Travel is one of the world’s most competitive industries. As such, differentiating your brand from competitors is often challenging.
While emotive visual marketing sells destinations and experiences, travel brands are left asking how to build an engaging and cost-effective content calendar to drive conversions and get return on investment (ROI).
Watch our first Wetu marketing masterclass for 2022 about how visual marketing can drive conversion.
1. Did you know content (strategy) is still king?
A content strategy needs to start with the objectives and end goal in mind. It requires an understanding of how it positions your brand through visual marketing elements (regardless of their format).
The second consideration is how this brand narrative is amplified across owned social media channels and earned media platforms, so that it’s best suited to your target market.
A content strategy should encompass two fundamental journeys: the guest journey, and the story the brand and its people want to tell to differentiate it from competitors in similar categories.
Visual marketing must be intentional. It should pique audiences’ emotions, sustain their attention, create nostalgia, reawaken memories, and cultivate a longing to travel to and experience your brand offering.
2. Video or photo – what’s more powerful?
One is not better than the other, as photography and videography have different purposes.
Whether your brand focuses on photos, videos, or both, ensure that quality content is shared in the format best suited to the chosen platform. For example, TikTok and Instagram reels are best suited to vertical videos, while landscape photos and videos perform best on websites.
The content can also guide the format – slow motion videos show how a scene plays out, while photos may capture a moment in a more impactful manner than if it were recorded. The ecosystem needs to remain the priority; drone footage should be captured in an ethical manner that does not encroach on wildlife.
In recent years, vertical videos have experienced more engagement. They travel faster than images, allow audiences to consume more content in less time, and easily build emotional connections. Longer videos can be edited into bite-size snippets and re-shared across various platforms as stand-alone content.
Go to market with a small selection of marketing photos that best represent your brand. The repetition of a few iconic images across various channels will make your brand instantly recognisable with time.
3. Authenticity is your brand’s most important story
Overt marketing material with models posing as guests and a sole focus on the property’s offerings (rooms, restaurants, spas, etc.) often appears staged or looks like stock footage. Authentic content needs to be representative of your guests, in terms of demographics and diversity, particularly as traveller demographics and source markets have changed in the last two years.
Though Virtual Reality footage is an effective training tool for partners, stakeholders and at trade shows, brands must retain some mystery for their guests – don’t give too much away.
Rather, make your brand story the hero. Find your authentic brand narrative by focusing on your unique selling points and signature guest experiences, while capturing unscripted moments that resonate with your brand’s purpose.
Try a reportage approach by capturing guests’ or models’ organic experiences from a distance (with the relevant model release forms in place). Lifestyle photos like these are more relatable, create an emotional connection, and allow guests to visualise themselves at your destination or property, while inspiring them to act.
4. Make visual storytelling cost-effective
The pandemic has shown that guerrilla-style marketing techniques – using available technologies (like smartphones and gimbles) and free content creation tools, combined with strategic thinking – are affordable, even though it may be a trial-and-error exercise.
Travel brands have embraced alternative content creation avenues, such as virtual and live safaris, SoundCloud playlists, cooking classes with in-house chefs, educational and interactive webinars, and recorded yoga sessions.
Leveraging readily available technologies is an effective way to connect the world to your brand, particularly as global lockdowns have slashed budgets for in-house content creators, freelancers, media interactions or influencer trade exchanges.
5. Paid versus trade?
Do your homework when commissioning content creators – ensure their portfolio, style and equipment resonate with your brand and budget. Have a strategy – look at reference images, write clear briefs and detailed shooting lists of what needs to be captured, and create a mood board alongside them after a site recce.
If there’s no content creation budget, consider a mutually beneficial trade exchange with photographers, the media, content creators or influencers, who closely align with your philosophy – many travel businesses have this opportunity thanks to their offering.
6. Incentivise user-generated content
Guests organically experience your brand differently to your marketing team.
Your testimonial strategy should include authentic user-generated content with permission to re-share on your platforms. Consider incentivising the sharing and submission of user-generated content, alongside your brand’s relevant hashtags or pay-off line, through a competition, discounts on future stays, complimentary drinks, dinners, spa treatments, or gift shop mementos.
Set up a platform, like Google Drive, that doesn’t resize photos or reduces quality, where guests can upload the high-resolution photos you have selected.
7. Updating product profiles in Wetu – it’s quick and free
One of the easiest ways to enable and empower the trade as a travel supplier, is to manage an updated content library. This gives your trade partners quick access to inspirational content that supports the sale while creating an emotional connection with potential guests. If you’re a supplier, all you need to do is improve your content rating.
If you’re a DMC, Operator or Agent, nudge your favourite travel supplier to get Wetu fit and give you access to their great content online.
Watch our first marketing masterclass for 2022 about how visual marketing can drive conversions, here.