As a storyteller, this is my idea of a fun day at work.. telling travel stories, custom designed for specific audiences. We’ve learnt that travellers now want unforgettable, life-changing travel experiences. Content strategy is the bait that hooks them, the crumb trail that leads them to explore your offerings further, the sensual cherry on the cake that converts lead to sale. Let’s investigate the persuasive power of content marketing to get you telling your stories better, more vividly and more effectively.
Travel research is a pain in the gut caused by Cognitive Dissonance, a familiar horrifying psychological condition visited upon anyone wanting to buy something they know probably costs more than they should spend. Travellers looking for holidays feel a certain amount of stress when inundated with masses of travel content – how to pick the right one and justify spending all that hard-earned cash on it?
Alleviate their pain by offering useful content that adds value to the products you’re marketing.
It could be helpful travel tips, advice on local customs and taboos, seasonal temperatures, prices of local products, local attractions, tourist sites, events, recommendations by locals, the sort of content that lives outside of your actual product/service; could be reviews from other travellers that support the value you claim to offer; could be evidence of your own experience of your products (walk the talk, so to speak); and it should definitely include videos and 360° images/tours that capture the imagination like no paper brochure could hope to achieve.
Enable interaction with your content and you invite engagement with your brand, product and services. Consider where and how consumers access your content, especially when they’re ready to make a decision based on the content presented to them; then you’ll understand the value of integrating your content in its different forms into broader marketing plans. Efficient distribution can put your content into the sales of trade partners with widgets, apps and shareable links. Showcase your content in interactive format with clickable maps, choices to access activity info, in-destination value adds and general destination information. Then pick your content apart into focused bite sizes to be repurposed (amid some marketing fanfare) in different channels, depending on what you’d like to feature. Piggyback on the good reputation of trade partners who endorse your product either by co-branding your content or collaborating on custom products.
The extra stuff is no longer extra, it’s expected. If it’s part of experiencing a destination, then it’s essential. Your product doesn’t exist in isolation; it’s the portal to a destination and your storytelling should reflect that.
Being strategic entails offering opportunities to engage (at length) with your content – clicking on links, pictures, graphics, videos etc. Giving consumers guided options to interact with whatever content most closely matches their interests, offers a personalised purchasing experience and eliminates time wasting. They can easily access only what they want and skip what doesn’t interest them.
Offer something insightful, something beneficial and give it to them gratis. They’ll reward you with longer and repeated visits to your site, which is exactly the strategy you want. Because you see, the Internet is saturated with generic travel waffle revolving around products rather than traveller needs.
Travel research is also a pain in the derrière. How would you feel if all the content you needed to choose your next holiday was only available in English, lingua franca of the world? You know a bit, you’re used to stretching your brain to comprehend but you’re growing weary.. So you hunt for content in your own language or close to it (dialect might be too challenging still), and that’s what you’ll book, if it’s the accommodation/activity/day tour you want.. But it’s unnecessary to take those chances. Suppliers who don’t have the resources to do it themselves, can invest in translation services. Address traveller pain points! Pain number 3 –
Gone! You had 8 seconds to grab the consumer’s attention with something inspiring, memorable and succinct, but instead you wrote an essay about the statues in your garden, your range of TV channels, the jazz music you play in your lounge, your Egyptian sheets, and the modern furnishings of your bar area..
Shorter than a goldfish, that’s the average length of the human attention span. Is the language you use simple enough to understand? Studies on the subject place average English reading skills at Grade 7 level; so if you don’t want to go over the heads of many in your audience, keep it sweet, short, simple, and make it count. Incidentally, have you had your text proofread lately?
It’s all about creating & publishing content that adds value…Make it personal…Doing this has been known to make content more memorable to readers.
Spare a thought for your consumer whose time is desperately limited. The frustration travellers feel during research and planning stages is directly proportional to the length and extent of irrelevant detail in the text they encounter. They want summarised, snackable content with options to delve deeper and choose what content to explore.
The amount of time spent perusing your content and the level of engagement are key, to capitalise on the volumes of visitors you’ve herded to your sites. Effective content strategy grows your audience and builds engagement, earns loyalty towards your brand, and ultimately increases your lead conversions to sales.
For hotels that want to receive a lot of bookings directly from guests…it is critical to have a website that receives plenty of traffic & additionally impresses guests enough that they trust your website & book their stay on it.
Understand the pains and work on the gains. Now it’s all about the power of storytelling visuals, moving imagery, and interactive content. Some destinations are better known than others, allowing you to play with whatever existing ideas are generally associated with them.
In psychological terms you’d be capitalising on a condition called Confirmation Bias, which draws primary attention to imagery that supports preconceptions. Like the iconic lively beachfront promenades of Ipanema or Copacabana if Rio de Janeiro is your destination, or the peaceful swathes of rice paddy fields in Vietnam, for instance. Using clear references establishes your trustworthiness, then you mix in your customised content for that personal touch.
Some pics just work better than others. Studies on the psychology of content recommend either the unimpeded view of a sweeping, dramatic landscape or the human face/body subliminally directing viewer attention to something noteworthy in the picture. Cinemagraphs like this steamy sample, provide rich texture to still pictures that tricks the eye.
It depends on your target markets and thorough testing to understand what reaches those travellers best, emotionally.
Studies into the psychology of colour in marketing can reinforce themes: yellow for fun, energetic activities; purple for opulence and luxury, etc. Call to Action buttons in red will attract more impulse clicks while blue earns its share of clicks for being dependable and safe. Colours also play persuasive games with good photography to create atmospheric portraits like the featured banner image of Casa Pueblo, Uruguay – it exudes an exotic allure that makes me want to slip into that cool water and soak in the sultry sunset glow.
We’re a visually stimulated species, wired to believe what we see and hear. When I read about Crystal Cruises launching underwater excursions in a submersible vessel, I thought it was too fantastical to be true. Imagine a virtual tour or 360° image taken from inside a glass capsule surrounded by tropical marine life. Imagine a video taken from inside and outside the capsule. Both media can offer a first person experience or an objective one depending on camera positioning, depending on the story you wish to tell about the accommodation, activity or destination you’re marketing. Both media encourage your audience to immerse themselves in the experience and you can get them even more involved by inviting your satisfied clients to share their own footage on your various platforms or website.. if your strategy makes allowances for this kind of content, that is.
UGC contests get you the best independent content for your travel products, doubling as positive reviews, to promote authenticity among fellow travellers. So ensure you provide a space for sharing and build a community to share with. And remember the power of humour! Inject a bit of entertainment value into your content. Be memorable.
Social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook are equipped for social sharing of 360° images/VR tours and videos. Part of strategising with good content is also to make your content accessible in digital format for 24/7 convenience, and increase opportunities to connect with your brand and products. Have it on your website, on your social media platforms, your blog, in addition to your usual sales/marketing collateral, and ensure consistency across all channels.
A study found that video on a website landing page increases conversions by 86%
Traditional video tells a story but first person accounts go further. It entails having the camera attached to the videographer going through an experience or destination, that puts the viewer in the story, in the picture. Short Snapchat styled videos work well among millennials – the less polish, the more real it seems. This improvisational style of video includes real people as opposed to actors/models, with minimal scripting. It’s attractive because it’s informal, usually lighthearted and authentic.
Video is quickly becoming the dominant content type for digital marketers & its penetration is most apparent in mobile devices, especially among young demographic groups.
Your content can be so vivid that viewers feel transported along and into the experience you offer. All it needs is a smartphone to achieve the benefits of virtual reality. It’s less expensive than you think.
Thomas Cook saw VR-promoted New York travel revenue increase by 190% [in 2015]
What’s unique and iconic about your offering? Got giraffe interacting with guests at breakfast? Don’t put all your eggs in a basket of typical images.. Instead, ask yourself what images would be common to locals and unique to foreigners? That’s what piques traveller curiosity.
Work your strategy through pictures, videos and virtual tours. Tell your travel story with movement and visually rich imagery. Bring that desirable, targeted and focused content to the consumer’s attention instead of leaving it to them to find; and make it super accessible. It’s time for a little seduction and the traveller is ready to be wooed.