While the reasons people travel haven’t changed much from year to year, the paths people embark on before they travel are constantly evolving.
Research suggests that the average consumer will visit 38 websites before committing to a purchase. A similar study found that than on average holiday-goers will conduct research across 8 different channels; including press articles, third-party review sites and social media recommendations. This has made it increasingly tricky for travel brands to stand out against their competitors and reach new digitally-savvy audiences.
That’s where content hubs come into play. A content hub is essentially a section of pages hosted on your website that provides your target audience with user-friendly, in-depth information in one handy, easy-to-read place. Think of it as a one-stop shop for answers, where users can find all of the interesting information they seek without leaving your site.
A good content hub can quickly become your consumer’s trusted resource, where they can find useful answers in a variety of content formats – copy, imagery, video and interactive, all in one place.
The benefits of a content hub for travel brands are that it serves the informational needs of people who spend a great deal of time researching their holidays. Therefore by aggregating and categorising the wealth of content your users are searching for into one place, you are able to keep them on your site for longer and convert them into valuable leads and sales.
However, we know that in the saturated travel market diversifying content is never easy, which is why we’ve compiled a list of what you need to consider for an effective content hub based on some of the top performing travel brands.
Virgin Atlantic uses their blog to chat about life on the ground in their key destinations and life in the air – covering onboard entertainment, wifi, and interesting passengers in its brand-focused posts. These types of well-written, captivating articles related to your brand rest at the heart of any great content hub. Good copywriting can establish the identity of a brand and reinforce what they stand for. Virgin Atlantic’s copywriting style is friendly and at times tongue-in-cheek. For example: Tired by a long flight? “Pretend you’re already there,” says Virgin Atlantic. Bored by safety announcements? Watch a cartoon instead.
As a travel company, it is important to remember that your audience is looking to spend a substantial figure in return for your services, therefore high quality, honest copywriting should always be at the forefront of your content marketing strategy. Once you’ve secured some excellent copywriters, you can start building a repertoire of articles on topics related to your brand.
Key takeaway: Good copywriting should communicate your brand persona in a style that connects with your target audience. Your content strategy and style guide lay the foundations of how well you do this, so it’s important you plan effectively, in advance of production. Your team of copywriters must be fully briefed and trained while adhering to the relevant guidelines and governance.
When Airbnb began planning their new local experience pages, user-intent was at the forefront of design. They found the keywords that best served their customer intent (i.e what is driving them to perform a search) by discovering which longtail keywords drove traffic to their site. They started with their most popular destinations and spanned out from there.
Say for instance one of your top ranking search terms is ‘What is there to do in New York?’, you could assume that this user is very close to the point of purchase as they have already identified their destination. Therefore creating informative and interesting content relating to this search term should be your next move. This could be an article on ‘Top spots to sip a Manhattan in Manhattan’, or ‘Riding the subway in New York: A survival guide.’
Key takeaway: Understanding the intent behind what people are searching for allows you to create content that will meet users’ informational needs. In turn, this will support how well you will rank for specific search phrases with major search engines such as Google. Establish who you are writing for and what purpose your copy serves. For more information on user intent click here.
Companies like Marriott have standard, branded digital magazines, but are also using focused, separate microsites such as their ‘Meetings Imagined’ space to cover content in a specific and high volume area – in this case, meeting planning. By segmenting their audience, they are able to create highly targeted and valuable articles that get in front of the right people.
The microsite’s concept is based on the result of research showing that there is a ‘next generation’ of planners and participants that use technology as their tool for accomplishing event-related tasks. The content is broken down into sections allowing planners to organise all elements of their event from icebreakers to decor, food and music options.
Key takeaway: Segmenting your audience will help you develop personas, in turn, this should enable you to deliver more targeted content that shepherds your customer base through the purchase journey. More advanced methodologies include the iterative approach to personas, which are specifically created to change over time, rather than one that’s designed to stay the same. It’s created with open-ended questions rather than definitive answers.
Act like a publisher
WestJet Magazine is a great example of a successful travel content hub that keeps its articles from sounding like sales pitches. Each post reads like a copy of Conde Naste or National Geographic, with the hub covering a wide range of non-travel specific topics such as food & drink and sports & leisure. West Jet have understood that as well as booking holidays, users will also be searching for things to do, and places to eat which are factors that people take into consideration before committing to a purchase.
Consumers want to be able to make their own informed decisions rather than being sold to. And with more research being conducted on mobile devices, it’s more crucial than ever for travel brands to optimise their content accordingly. WestJet have done this perfectly by creating highly visual content with graphic image tiles and snappy headings.
A well-designed content hub should be visually appealing and bring your brand to life in an authentic and engaging way. Attractive visual content is also more likely to get shared on social media which means that investing in design is crucial if you’re looking to amplify your content. Each article on WestJet’s hub features a social sharing button to give visitors the ability to share content and customise messages with one click.
Key takeaway: By creating more of a publisher first approach to your content strategy – i.e by posting evergreen and news type content – you will better serve users across the sales journey. Creating useful and shareable content, beyond a standard blog will go along way to increasing your search traffic as well as improving your customer loyalty. The AIDA model is worth understanding and considering for your business.
Implementing a content hub into your online marketing strategy can be more cost-effective than you think, however it’s essential you plan your investment in advance. There are tried and tested approaches to planning content ROI and it’s vital you consider what you are trying to achieve before embarking on any project. There are many examples of brands publishing content for the sake of it, so don’t fall into that trap. If you aren’t planning content hubs into your online marketing mix you can be sure your competition will be, so it’s also worth looking at your market as a first step.
Great content should be:
• Driven by commercial goals and user needs
• Truly unique if you want to differentiate your brand
• Emotive; to stimulate response and action
• Written for people, search and design (UX)
• An investment, not a cost
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