Creating A Well-Defined Travel Content Marketing Strategy

Are you cre­at­ing inspi­ra­tional con­tent that entices peo­ple to trav­el?

Jose Truchado By Jose Truchado from Expedia. Join the discussion » 0 comments

As online mar­ket­ing evolves, mar­ket­ing cam­paigns tend to focus more on what Google wants rather than on what peo­ple need. For trav­el brands to con­tin­ue being rel­e­vant, they need to lis­ten to con­sumers more and use that infor­ma­tion to present rel­e­vant con­tent and prod­ucts – espe­cial­ly to con­sumers who are in the ear­li­er stages of the buy­ing cycle.

I’ve been work­ing in the trav­el indus­try for longer than I have been work­ing in online mar­ket­ing, in fact my par­ents met while both were work­ing for an air­line, so you can say that I was born with­in the trav­el indus­try.

I remem­ber when I was a lit­tle kid and I used to look at the trav­el agency brochures, dream­ing of going to the won­der­ful des­ti­na­tions they adver­tised. Trav­el Agen­cies then used all avail­able media to inspire their con­sumers, but it doesn’t work like that any­more.

What Is Quality Content In The Travel Industry?

Ever since Bill Gates accrued the phrase “con­tent is king” we have pledged alle­giance to that rule and we’ll say it out loud to whomev­er asks.

But what is con­tent? How do we describe what qual­i­ty con­tent is?

Here’s one pret­ty good answer: Qual­i­ty con­tent is con­tent that serves the user; it answers users’ ques­tions or needs as quick­ly as pos­si­ble.

Real­ly, though, most of the con­tent pro­duced in the trav­el sec­tor is designed to rank well in Google and oth­er search engines. The trav­el indus­try is so clut­tered with mediocre con­tent that it’s real­ly hard to find a site that pro­duces good, con­sum­able con­tent.

Big brands have been spoiled for years by Google, because Google isn’t always able to dis­cern what qual­i­ty con­tent is. As an exam­ple, if I search for “trips to Lon­don”, the first organ­ic result I get is for “Lon­don The­atre Breaks” – not com­plete­ly unre­lat­ed, but too niche for my gener­ic search.

It’s no won­der why new gen­er­a­tions turn to mul­ti­ple media and sources for inspi­ra­tion when search­ing for trav­el.

Are Travel Brands Inspiring People With Content?

Who can say that any of the biggest brands pages are inspi­ra­tional? Let’s look at Oxford Dictionary’s def­i­n­i­tion of Inspi­ra­tion

Ide­al­ly, inspi­ra­tional con­tent should entice you to trav­el, as opposed to con­tent that pure­ly serves you only once the user has already decid­ed where and when they want to trav­el.

Let’s look at some of the biggest trav­el brands home­pages.

What do all these pages have in com­mon? They effi­cient­ly sur­face their unique sell­ing points, which is their inven­to­ry of deals, but fail to pro­vide tru­ly inspi­ra­tional con­tent. They fail to serve peo­ple who haven’t made their mind yet, the ones who in the past would go to a trav­el agency seek­ing advice from the trav­el agent to decide upon their next hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion.

With the excep­tion of a few iso­lat­ed projects, none of these big brand sites repli­cate the mag­ic that the old brochures used to cap­ture their clients’ imag­i­na­tion. Suc­cess and effi­cien­cy in cap­tur­ing search engine traf­fic has turned these pages into pure­ly trans­ac­tion­al sites leav­ing the inspi­ra­tion part to blog­gers and trav­el mag­a­zine-like web­sites.

But does this reflect their user’s behav­ior? Is the user no longer look­ing to be inspired? Accord­ing to Google’s 2013 research, it’s quite the oppo­site: 61 per­cent of users plan­ning a hol­i­day turn to the Inter­net for inspi­ra­tion, and this num­ber increas­es to 80 per­cent when it comes to plan­ning their hol­i­days.

This means trav­el brands are only touch­ing the user in the lat­est parts of the buy­ing cycle, when users have already made up their minds about where they want to go, in which case, what­ev­er con­tent they present is irrel­e­vant unless it’s a good deal for them to book.

With more than 30 per­cent of trav­el­ers watch­ing trav­el videos as a source of inspi­ra­tion, and even more turn­ing into social media to help them decide, brands now have even more tools to inspire the users and touch them in the ear­li­est phas­es of the buy­ing cycle.

Travel Content = Written + Mobile + Social + Video

In order to dis­cern what good inspi­ra­tional con­tent is, we first need to under­stand our tar­get con­sumers, their habits, and the kind of infor­ma­tion they are search­ing for online. Under­stand­ing our con­sumers’ behav­ior and their research habits is a piv­otal phase of a well-defined con­tent mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy.

As a start­ing point, Google talks about Gen C peo­ple in Meet Gen C: The YouTube Gen­er­a­tion:

Reach­ing con­sumers used to be a pret­ty sim­ple job, but tech­nol­o­gy has changed all that. Media con­sump­tion has frag­ment­ed; mobile devices have brought con­tent into every moment of our lives; and social media has shat­tered the old dis­tinc­tion between audi­ence and cre­ator.

A con­tent strat­e­gy that relies pure­ly on con­tent that “ranks well” is out­dat­ed and no longer suf­fi­cient.

Users don’t read any­more, nor do they stick to a sin­gle device when it comes to research. They scan through text, look at pic­tures and watch videos (if they are inter­est­ing enough). The days of 1,000 word arti­cles are long gone. We’ve known this for a while, yet we are still pro­duc­ing these arti­cles because they rank well in search.

Trav­el plan­ning nowa­days goes beyond a sin­gle screen. Users move across devices to plan their trips, search­ing across dif­fer­ent plat­forms (Google, YouTube, Twit­ter, Insta­gram, etc.) for the infor­ma­tion they need.

Gen C users are watch­ing more videos online to help them decide, not only to check a des­ti­na­tion but also to find out where to go, activ­i­ties, or even how to choose the best trip avail­able.

This also means that hav­ing a mobile-ready site is para­mount to being able to serve the new gen­er­a­tion of trav­ellers.

The Power of Envy

One of the most pow­er­ful tools we have as mar­ke­teers is envy. Put in the prop­er con­text, envy can and will move mass­es.

Show some­one hav­ing fun enjoy­ing a trip and peo­ple will be inspired to do the same. If that per­son has a large social media fol­low­ing, expect the results to mul­ti­ply ten­fold.

One of the best exam­ples we have in mar­ket­ing is the iPhone, arguably not the best smart­phone in the mar­ket, yet still a mar­ket leader. Apple has always been very wise in cre­at­ing a prod­uct that not only ful­fills the user needs but also gives the user a cer­tain sta­tus, and the long lines out­side every Apple store the days before each iPhone launch are proof of it.

So why aren’t trav­el brands using envy in trav­el more? As I men­tioned before, Google is spoil­ing them and they are con­stant­ly focus­ing on cre­at­ing con­tent that ranks well.


  • Break those silos and embrace a con­tent mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy that involves all mar­ket­ing chan­nels work­ing togeth­er.
  • Go beyond key­word research. Lis­ten to what your tar­get audi­ence needs.
  • Use videos, not only as a tool for inspi­ra­tion but as a way of reach­ing out to your users. Let them know you’re lis­ten­ing to their needs.
  • If you don’t already have a mobile-ready site, remem­ber that about 58 per­cent of trav­el­ers start their research with a search on Google or oth­er search engines. Invest in a prop­er mobile site before con­sid­er­ing a mobile app.

How would you define a qual­i­ty con­tent mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy? Tell us in the com­ments.

Jose Truchado

Written by Jose Truchado

Director, SEO & Global Operations, Expedia

Jose Truchado has spent over 17 years leading, training and mentoring teams in a variety of business sectors, including his own European technology company in the travel sector which he lead for more than 10 years. He combines his experience in Online Marketing and leadership with his passion for team dynamics and performance to help professionals maximise their working relationships. After working for several years advising multiple companies on their online marketing strategy, Jose joined Expedia, where he managed its European SEO team for 4 years. He regularly speaks at international conferences on Online Marketing and the importance of relationships in business development and marketing. Aside from his expertise in Online Marketing Jose is an accredited Executive Coach and Myers Briggs practitioner.

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