So much has changed in the way content is consumed and the way it sells travel. Some changes are tiny but significantly impact how travellers purchase travel; other changes have been disrupted by technology, causing a revolution in the way travel professionals work.
Where travel met content
Content and tourism are a marriage made in heaven. Technology has played a game-changing role in making that marriage work for travellers and travel professionals. Remember..?
Dialling up to the Internet with its outer space ring tone.. Clattering around Lotus WordPro or MSDos on a desktop computer.. Cluttering desks and shelves with folders and notebooks full of destination and supplier info, rates, contracts, client info, reminders scribbled on desk calendars.. Faxing, printing brochures, a lifetime of repetitive manual tasks, data on disks.. Life before Google.
Travel content survived those dark ages, but if we knew then what we know now, we would’ve pulled our hair out in frustration. Why? Because of time and effort – so much of it spent on tasks that tech can help us do in a flash! I’ve walked that beat, a million details stored in my head, trying to keep track of what’s new, willing the universe to offer up the content I needed to win some potential business.
Resources were scant: you were at the mercy of whatever the Internet and your suppliers provided. Meetings and site inspections were vital opportunities to exchange content in the form of storage devices, printed brochures (if you travelled or saw supplier reps regularly). Guide books and trade manuals were your destination bibles. Old-school content didn’t always fully represent what’s on offer. The contents of those disks, flash drives, emailed attachments and online sources started ageing as soon as you got them. Depending on their condition, format and size, you couldn’t do more than copy, snip to edit, then paste onto an itinerary template.
To effectively tempt travellers to visit destinations or participate in activities, the dream stage demands a virtual experience through videos, virtual tours and storytelling photography. Vivid colours in high resolution catch the eye; people in pictures resonate better with travellers; moving images move modern audiences. As appetites changed and the competition got tougher, what travellers want now is curated, comprehensive, updated info.
Making content your own
There’s nothing new about personalisation nor brand differentiation. In the past, brands competed on price and reputation, often excluding smaller brands. Standing out from the rest, looking different, portraying a unique brand identity was difficult when every other travel company got the same content from product suppliers. Content lacked the flexibility travel professionals needed to get creative.
Digital content can be manipulated to align with the interests and needs of a niche or target market. Customised content can help travel brands set themselves apart from others selling similar experiences or destinations. Generic isn’t necessarily bad quality, but to be competitive, you want content that attracts audiences looking for something special or better suited to them.
Content draws the audience it was designed for.
Imagine creating an adventure itinerary with the right destinations and activities but the only outdoor pics your preferred suppliers provided were of the gardens and swimming pools.. In the past, you’d rely on words to complete the proposal. Unfortunately, people dislike reading – pictures sell travel better. To package experiences by theme – from niche itineraries for food or animal lovers, from groups to solo travellers – the content must fit.
El mismo contenido para todos?
¡No! There was a time when consumers battled language barriers to understand itineraries presented to them.. For a while it was accepted that English content was enough. No mas. Global travel has left lingua franca behind in response to the preference for personalised content.
Remember when you only marketed to travellers in whose languages you could communicate? Without the linguistic resources available within or to your company, entire language groups remained out of reach – travellers wouldn’t feel confident buying a tour in a language they didn’t fully understand. Whether outsourced or done in-house, old-school content cost time and money with each translation. Digital content doesn’t discriminate! It works with machine translations to cost-effectively reproduce itineraries in different languages.
Remember how you stored content from different places in different formats? Papers in folders, files shared to desktop, brochures stacked on shelves, floppies and flash drives piled in a drawer, collecting dust.. And when you needed alternatives to your first choice accommodation but couldn’t think of any? You wasted so much time digging around a colleague’s notes or picking their brain, searching for more info and pics. Or that supplier special you once used in an itinerary only to discover it had expired.. Also, whenever a preferred supplier was used in a new itinerary, its description had to be re-typed. Copy, paste, email, or write it down somewhere. Not very efficient.
Everything needed to do the job in 1 place makes a world of difference to your team’s productivity.
The days of patchwork file storage cannot compete with cloud-based data storage: it’s a central access point from which to generate different outputs, consistent with your brand. In the cloud, inventory is easy to tag and label for company-wide access. A supplier adds new maps, docs or Ts & Cs to their product content – update done! You design a new routing for self-drive itineraries that you want to share with colleagues – done! Need to train new staff on your preferred products – done! Your content is easy to search, filter and pop into presentations.
Sourcing content for website and marketing collateral involved a lot of time, double effort and expense to ensure your content reflected your brand. Repurposing your expert knowledge is first prize – branded; embedded onto websites; inserted into catalogues; displayed on social media. Hard to do with old-school content, limited as it was to re-writing docs for email marketing and to paper-based brochures, whose short shelf life made them costly to update and translate for other markets.
Digital content represents your brand where and how you want it, with minimal effort, time and cost.
A Facebook presence used to be something nice-to-have; now it’s an important business tool and source of travel inspiration. Social media trends have moved past occasional posts for ‘likes’ to strategic audience-targeting by geography, language and niche with clear CTAs. Like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter also love sharing digital content, something old-school never learnt to do.
In the race to remain relevant, thrive rather than survive in the tourism industry, the choices are clear: tried-and-tested old-school methods or investment in digital content.. The future of travel content is versatile, media-rich, customised, translated and centralised. Old school? Not so cool.