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How travel brands can use content to bounce back in 2022

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The impact of COVID-19 on the travel and leisure industries has been insurmountable for most, with plenty of false hope and stop-starts along the way. While some industries saw their income levels for May 2020 dip to just 73.6% of those recorded just months before in February 2020, turnover for travel and leisure business drastically fell to 26% of February’s figure. 

 

But, with travel restrictions easing (for now!), the world is moving more towards living alongside the virus for the long term. A surge in holiday bookings for 2022 indicates that this year the industry is going to see a genuine comeback, with plenty of opportunities for travel brands to reshape and grow their businesses. Setting the foundations for upcoming years is crucial too, with experts predicting that pre-pandemic levels of travel won’t be reached until at least 2023.

 

While travel and tourism brands may be reluctant to invest at previous levels, content marketing is a great place to start, and it can be used to underpin activity across organic and paid channels. 

 

Here are eight tips on content creation to help travel brands begin to attract and engage potential customers for 2022 and beyond.

  1. Create realistic goals

 

Start by creating goals for your content. While an article might not get 100,000 views overnight, use your pre-pandemic data to benchmark and create SMART goals. 

 

SMART is a mnemonic:

  • Specific
  • Measurement
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound.

 

So make sure that any goals you create meet all the criteria for SMART — this will help you to remain realistic.

 

You can also use Google Trends to identify some more recent market trends, then factor those into your planning. Other sources of information for content goals include analysing your previous content campaigns, what worked and what didn’t? Comparisons are always well received, as is inspirational content. Focus on gripping titles, engaging imagery or just simply answering common questions that budding tourists have? 

 

As well as reviewing your own past successes, take a look at the competition’s content…and results. If you think that your topics and keywords of choice have too much competition online, consider long-tail and niche keywords. Instead of “places to visit in Portugal”, try “Eight must-see hotspots in Portugal that you’ve (probably) never heard of”. Not only does the second article sound more exciting, but it’s also more likely to meet the needs of the modern traveller, and rank on a search engine.

  1. Focus production

Ultimately, you need to align content production with your budget and your commercial goals. If you’ve got a long and drawn-out list of potential titles, focus production on your priority pieces and don’t spread yourself too thin. Create keyword clusters or destination clusters to organise your activity and use a content calendar to keep all teams aligned on priorities. 

 

A good way to focus activity is to work in monthly sprint cycles. For example, if you focus on 12 destinations for the year, plan a range of content marketing activities to be completed in one month. You also need to consider the time it takes for content to rank and when the most popular booking periods are. Taking this approach also allows for optimal operational planning and management.

  1. Think like a challenger brand

Post-pandemic travel provides brands with an opportunity to reinvent themselves. Of course, playing to your strengths is important, but where you might once have published content that was quite formal in tone, consider what people are now more likely to share on social media. The competition to get in front of avid travellers and worldly explorers is going to hit an all-time high. It’s important to stand out among the crowd. Could you become the Paddy Power of travel?

 

Fun and inspiring content can also support your business if you break out into less ‘traditional’ digital marketing channels. One travel brand that’s done this extraordinarily well is Ryanair on TikTok. With 1.5 million followers and 42.4 million likes, Ryanair’s videos have (almost) nothing to do with their brand or core messaging (and are sometimes the antithesis of this!). But their ‘extremely online’ approach has made them a TikTok fan favourite brand, alongside language app Duolingo. Think and act like a challenger brand to separate yourself from the competition.

Ryanair Tiktok Account

  1. Personalise content experiences

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has also increased digital customer expectations significantly. Prospective and existing customers expect a much more personalised approach and are becoming more picky about who they engage with. 

 

Personalised {{firstname}} content isn’t enough to appease the modern buyer anymore. Instead, you can use email marketing to provide customers with very focused content about where to go and things to do based on their searches or booking history. Doing this also gives you the prime opportunity to upsell or cross-sell before their trip.

 

Use a variety of content types to do this — don’t stick to text-heavy emails. Use videos, customer vlogs, blogs and unique imagery to keep your customers engaged. ‘Tailormade’ holidays show customers you are focusing on their individual needs and that you understand what makes them happy. Here are some great examples of brands that have created personalised travel experiences.

  1. Inspire

To truly inspire your audience, you need to do far more than just encouraging visitors to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower. Today’s travellers are yearning for a much more unique and tailored tourist experience. 

 

Align your content strategy with destinations based on tourist attractions and hidden local knowledge. By all means, suggest a visit to the Louvre. But what about the backstreet boulangerie, the tiny cafe with the world’s best espresso, or the quirky restaurant that’s perfect for a quiet date night?

 

Culturally rich destinations offer a great opportunity to sell experiences that go beyond the normal beach, pool and hotel recommendations. And you could even partner with such places for additional revenue opportunities — particularly if they are new or up-and-coming.

 

Atlas Obscura, for example, take places like Italy (#1 on the culturally rich country list of 2021) and share ‘cool and unusual’ things to do in the area with a whopping 885 suggestions.

 

Using travel influencers or local experts to share their inside tips is a cost-effective way to make your content more trustworthy and authoritative.  

Atlas Obscura

  1. Get more visual

“A picture says 1,000 words” goes the old adage and it’s true! Content doesn’t have to mean just copy. Images, GIFs and videos can be easily made with tools such as Canva, and visual media has been proven time and time again to create more engagement than text only.

 

These days, the cost of visual content is a lot less than it once was. You can make it on-brand by creating your own unique style and using your colour palettes.

 

EasyJet’s approach to Instagram is a great example — where they repurpose blog content into short videos, GIFs and interesting travel facts. Similarly, seasonal tourism brands such as Ibiza Rocks manage to keep the audience engaged throughout the year despite their (relatively) short high season of May to October.

Easyjet Instagram Account

  1. Optimise for mobile

A mobile-first approach to content creation is absolutely critical. In years gone by it’s been optional, but not only does Google rank its Ads and SEO by mobile experience, but more users are also browsing travel websites on mobile than ever before.

 

Here are some key stats from Google:

  • 79% of mobile travellers completed a booking after doing research on their smartphone
  • 83% of mobile business travellers have booked travel after doing research on their smartphone

 

And, a bonus statistic from Stratos says that:

  • 82% of travel bookings around the world took place without human interaction in 2018

 

So a focus on a mobile-friendly approach and optimisation is critical in 2022 and beyond. Don’t forget that people are still researching and looking for answers while on their holiday, so make sure you are providing content across the customer journey. You are much more likely to get repeat sales if you connect with your customers beyond the booking stage.  

  1. Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose

Finally, make the most of your content by repurposing it as much as possible. Not only does this give you huge ROI benefits on each piece of content, but it elongates its lifespan. By making content central to your marketing activity, you’re creating multiple pieces that can be used on an ongoing basis.

 

One 750-1,000 word article or blog post could also be turned into:

  • Multiple 10–15 second videos
  • Various extracts and quotes for social media content
  • Several shorter blog pieces
  • A longer video piece
  • The foundation of a whitepaper or eBook
  • A PR comment
  • A new lease of life for older content pieces.

 

Similarly, a larger piece of content such as a whitepaper could be scaled down dramatically to provide plenty of social media content, extracts, quotes, PR opportunities and more.

Conclusion

It’s undeniable that travel brands are chomping at the bit to get back to pre-pandemic levels of revenue. While this may take some time, investing in your content strategy and delivery now will pay dividends in the months and, perhaps, years to come. Remember to prioritise your content creation, create visuals that inspire and engage, and optimise everything with a mobile-first attitude. 

 

If you are looking for great content marketing ideas or some fresh content for your website, get in touch with Woo for a free consultation. We have won awards for our work in travel, including for a campaign we ran for cruisedeals.co.uk which compared the cost of living in London to the cost of living on a cruise ship.

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