Travel marketers are not just selling trips abroad – they’re selling dreams, adventure, and memories. But travel trends change rapidly, and this can prove tricky when it comes to marketing your professional travel or tour operation service. Managing content, handling inquiries, social media and customer relations will all begin to burn a hole in your pocket (and take up your time) if you aren’t ultimately getting the results you want. Marketing as a tour operator takes careful planning and requires a solid strategy to ensure high ROI, healthy conversion rates, and competitive search rankings. If you’re strapped for ideas or looking for inspiration for your content marketing strategy, here are five top ideas for producing killer content that people will love.
1. Target the right people: create content for your specific audience
Before you begin creating awesome content, you need to be clear about your target market. It’s easy to assume that everyone is your target market, but this generalization won’t yield great results for your tour operating company. Your target market will likely be separated into four main segments:
- Traditional travelers – those that are traveling for their holiday, usually as a group of friends or family members
- Generation X – millennials who are living the nomadic lifestyle or traveling for long periods of time
- Budget vs. affluent travelers – this will be based on the products and deals you offer. Are you geared towards shoestring budget travelers or those looking for luxury?
- Solo travelers — solo travelers are a very specific customer segment, needing extra support and activities during their travels
The secret to great content marketing is being able to curate content based on these three segments of your target market.
Tip: Smaller companies and startups are at an advantage because they will begin with a fresh mindset. They can adapt and change easily to focus on all three audiences at once. Larger tour operators run the risk of focusing only on traditional travelers, missing out on huge potential profit margins as a result.
2. Your secret weapon: tell stories with user generated content
All companies can produce content, but tour operators have the advantage of having incredible, real-life stories to share. This highly compelling, customer-focused content marketing strategy works wonders at selling the ‘dreams and memories’ that customers are searching for. And who is better placed to tell these magical stories than your customers?
User generated content is a powerful tool in any company’s marketing strategy, especially in the travel sector. Customers can capture incredible experiences through pictures, videos and written content that can be shared on your website or social media profiles.
- Start a blog to showcase customers’ experiences and give people an incentive to book through your company. Nothing makes people want to convert more than reading about the idyllic stories of previous customers who long to relive the experience once more
- We are visual creatures. The beauty of the travel industry means you will accumulate hundreds and thousands of incredible snaps from customers during their trip if you encourage people to share them. Display these on your website or create a hashtag on social media to collate beautiful, authentic customer photos
- Tour guides and employees can capture customer experience to use as content. STA travel creates countless videos made by staff while they experience their own tours. Their YouTube channel is full of inspiring and exciting content for their audience to watch
Tip: User generated content greatly improves trust, which is especially important for targeting generation X. They will read countless reviews and search the web to find as much information about your company as possible before they will take the plunge and book with you.
3. Visual content marketing strategy: website design
The mistake that many content marketers make is failing to factor in their website as part of their content strategy. But it is probably one of the most important aspects to boost ROI because this is most people’s first impression of your company. A poor website can reduce trust amongst your audience and sabotage conversions.
- Less is more when it comes to visual content. Keep your website clean with lots of white space. Minimal design and stunning imagery will speak for itself when customers browse tour destinations
- Build long-term customer relationships by creating strong visual branding your customers will recognize instantly
- Minimal web designs will still look incredible on mobile, which is how a huge portion of your audience will be visiting your site. Web sites can sometimes fall flat on mobile because their designs don’t work well on a small screen
Tip: Online stores need to integrate with necessary apps, work well on mobile, and be well optimized. Tour operator GoGo Hawaii created its beautiful website using a popular ecommerce website builder Shopify. Finding a website solution for tour operators can be tricky, since the type of products they sell (holiday tours) may not be supported by many of the leading website builders. Similar sites direct customers to fill out a contact form to arrange a booking, rather than being able to buy the holiday tour directly through the website. GoGo Hawaii has made things simple for its customers and integrated with BookThatApp to create a flawless booking experience that customers remember (for all the right reasons).
4. Embrace the future of content: virtual reality
Always keep up with technology and content trends to find ways of making your marketing strategy better. The rise of virtual content has encouraged lots savvy companies to begin developing great VR-ready content for their customers to enjoy. Develop VR-ready content for your customers that allows them to ‘try before they buy’.
Travel giant Virgin Atlantic created VR content that enabled its customers to see a 360-degree view of a resort in Mexico. They displayed these headsets in stores and watched as bookings for these holiday resorts grew substantially. After testing it with other resorts, Virgin realized that this immersive content had a dramatic effect on sales.
Take a look at the video here:
Great content marketing isn’t built in a day. Tour operators have a lot of exciting and engaging content opportunities at their fingertips, enabling them to sell the promise of dreams and memories to their customers. Always be data-driven with your content marketing strategy to ensure success – define your goals, run campaigns, and measure your progress to tweak your content marketing strategy until it is perfect.
About the Author
Patrick Foster, ecommerce writer & marketer
Patrick Foster is an ecommerce consultant and freelance writer for popular blog Ecommercetips.org. He loves to share his insights with other entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them grow.