These days the vacation decision-making process begins with a search query. A study by Google and Ipsos MediaCT showed that 65% of leisure travelers start their vacation search online with no idea of their next destination. So is the travel marketing industry really taking advantage of this? According to many experts in the field, they are not.
Retail has the Travel Industry Beat
Nigel Huddleston, industry head of travel for Google UK, states in regard to online destination marketing worldwide, “We lost our leadership a few years ago… to the retail sector.” He goes on to explain that the reason the travel industry has lost its momentum is that, “we are forever trying to push the consumer to the booking point.” In the beginning, the consumer is far from ready to commit to booking and spends hours researching destinations and hotels online before finally making a decision. This research is done via desktop, mobile, and tablet. Most companies in the travel industry are not taking full advantage of the crucial initial research stage when consumers are using multiple devices trying to figure out where to go next.
How Can the Travel Industry Get More Web Traffic?
How can those faced with the challenge of online destination marketing and hospitality marketing sway web traffic in their direction? In a word: content, high-quality content that is optimized for mobile devices. Imagine a bored consumer waiting in line at the bank or commuting across the city. He wants to temporarily escape his boredom and the reality of a situation in which he is forced to waste precious time in a busy world. What can he do to pass the time without feeling like he’s wasting it? He pulls out his smart phone, of course, and begins a search for his next vacation destination. Photos of stunning beaches and articles describing divine escapes soon transport him elsewhere.
Developing Content from the Consumer’s Perspective
What makes you want to visit a place? Maybe someone mentions it in passing, or maybe you suddenly hear a lot about a particular place on the news. Aside from outside influences, what else starts you on a path to find a travel destination? Most people will want to research the things they enjoy before choosing a particular place.
Imagine your potential clients have decided to spend time at the beach or in the mountains. That’s simple enough. What’s next? If your potential clients are foodies, they are going to be looking for the types of cuisine and the best restaurants your destination has to offer. Maybe they’re wine connoisseurs, and a nearby vineyard will influence their decision. Perhaps they’re animal lovers and want to visit a place with a nature reserve. They could be avid golfers, history buffs, or sports lovers.
You get the point. By writing content and providing photos or videos that address these interests, you’re going to create something that resonates with the consumer and provokes the imagination to focus on your destination as the perfect ambience for their next memorable vacation.
Form a Travel Marketing Content Plan
To get started, make a list of places or items that stand out at your destination. Then make a list of the types of consumers that your destination attracts: Senior citizens, spring breakers, foodies, athletes, etc. Then start developing a content plan with your team that covers these attractions and targets your different types of clientele. It may be time-consuming, but the influx of web traffic will be well worth it.
By developing useful content for these audiences and helping them find what they’re looking for, you’ve helped them through the first part of the decision-making process. You’ve also most likely gotten them to share your content through e-mail or social media. According to Google’s five stages of travel, the consumer is sharing throughout the process, not just during the actual vacation experience. According to Nigel Huddleston, search volume for vacation planning is highest in February. Time to get busy!