Content marketing has established itself as an important tool in the travel industry.
From huge hotel chains, to boutique B&Bs, to airline operators, everyone wants to make their mark online. But with so much competition, it can be hard for brands to stand out from the crowd.
Luckily, in an industry as diverse as travel, there are many natural opportunities to tell interesting stories to inspire audiences. Here, we take a look at how some of the top travel companies have been going the extra mile with their content marketing.
Since investing in their own content studio in 2014, Marriott have taken content marketing to the next level.
From their innovative work with the futuristic Oculus Rift, to letting content creators take over Marriott’s Snapchat account to document their holidays – Marriott have set the benchmark for creative content marketing in the travel industry.
Last year, Marriott also released a short-film- Two Bellmen which currently has 9 million views on YouTube. The 19-minute comedy built its viewership over months as consumers shared the content via social media. As customers increasingly shift their viewing habits to mobile devices and laptops, savvy brands like Marriott are creating content that appeals to consumers on an emotional level. As a result, they get their brand in front of an impressive number of potential new customers – in many cases more than a traditional TV advert ever could!
What Marriott have taught us is that to effectively engage viewers online, brands need content that is not just an advert but has a strong narrative that truly manifests the company mission.
Oyster have taken a different direction with their content marketing by appealing to consumer’s frustration with bad holiday experiences. They’ve highlighted a niche in the travel industry for content that “outs” deceptive hotel photos – allowing customers to get a true idea of what the hotel is like before buying.
Oyster’s Fakeout campaign sends a professional photographer to various hotels to reveal hidden angles of photographs, often involving undersized swimming pools or overcrowded beaches.
What sets Oyster apart from their competitors is that they’ve created a solution to a common problem- how can customers be sure that reviews are authentic? By creating a hub of “insider” photographs, Oyster is able to affirm its authority and reliability.
In an effort to compete the huge hotel chains and all inclusive holidays, Airbnb set up “Pineapple” – A print magazine aiming to show the personal side of communities surrounding Airbnb hosts. This included anecdotal stories of the local area and advice for people visiting.
Highlighting the community aspect of the brand shows consumers the unique appeal of staying in a bed and breakfast and printing a magazine for Airbnb hosts to have on their coffee table was an inventive use of print media. Airbnb have now partnered up with the publishing company Hearst to produce a new version of the magazine called Airbnbmag.
Since 2016 Airbnb have been saying they want to redefine experiential marketing, and with 2017 have started to push for their brand to be more of an experience rather than just somewhere to stay. This brand is becoming one of the big innovators in the industry, so it will be interesting to see where they’re taking Airbnb next.
Australian airline Qantas aimed to let consumers experience the incredible sights and locations of the country in a new and innovative way. A 360-degree virtual reality tour of sacred sites such as Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (which is prohibited to the public) showed what it would be like to fly over such a rare and unique place.
It’s not just the use of new technology that makes this content innovative, Qantas host it for free on their site to inspire customers to book holidays to these beautiful locations – they have even partnered with Samsung to bring virtual reality to their cabins and lounges!
As we enter a new era of content, consumers seek more and more experience. Virtual reality allows travel marketers to set the bar for incredible visual content and offer their customers a truly unique offering.
Last on the list, STA are a travel brand who are all about helping students to travel, often on a smaller than usual budget. What makes their content so brilliant is how clearly they understand their audience.
Take this piece about planning a gap year – the language is very casual, it gives genuinely useful advice and doesn’t hard sell tours or specific holidays. This level of informal advice is carefully crafted to appeal to students, and STA’s disciplined approach in their choice of language is impressive.
What’s unique about STA’s offering is they understand the process of their target market. Take a look at their budgeting tip article as an example:
STA have effectively positioned themselves as a knowledge resource for their audience by creating pre-trip guides for their target customers. If you have the ability to solve problems and educate your market on highly relevant issues-particularly in the early stages of the purchase journey- the more likely they will be to use your services when they are ready to book.
Travel brands can be content experts too: From entire content studios to creative uses of technology, it’s clear that travel brands aren’t struggling to keep up with rapid innovations in content, and some might even be leading the way.
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