When creating online travel content, it is tempting to come up with brand new ideas as you go along. After all, travel is all about spontaneity; it’s the off-the-cuff experiences that often make the greatest impressions. However, as anybody who has found themselves in Alaska armed with nothing but tiny Speedos and factor 50 sunscreen will attest, a little forward planning can go a very long way.
Having a good content marketing strategy for your hotel will often mean juggling dozens of different tasks. Your social media statuses need to be updated, online chats and conversations need to be monitored, blog posts need to be written, edited and scheduled, images need to be sourced and uploaded, websites need to be updated, videos need to be produced… and so on. With so much different content to produce, it’s very easy to let something slip your memory, yet there’s little more detrimental to a hotel’s brand image than stagnant blogs and sluggish social feeds.
So what’s the solution for combating future content drought? It’s simple: make an editorial calendar.
What is an editorial calendar?
An editorial calendar, or content calendar, is a shareable resource that allows you and your team to plan and keep track of your content marketing, ensuring your hotel has a steady flow of content.
The more visual your calendar is, the better. A mere glance should reveal what you have planned for the week. You should be able to glean what content is being created and by whom, what stage the content is at, where it will be published or promoted and who the target audience is. Colour coding is key.
Do I really need one?
The answer is almost always yes. A content calendar helps you to think strategically and to plan your content beyond just today and tomorrow. An effective calendar can keep your content on track, helping you avoid stalled goals, missed deadlines and sleepy social feeds.
What’s more, an editorial calendar also helps maximise the impact of your content too. For instance, a well-kept calendar is a great way to ensure a blog post is not left to wither and waste on your hotel website, but is promoted and championed across online channels.
How do I create one?
Creating a content calendar from scratch can be daunting at the outset, but there is no need to re-invent the wheel – this is the time to borrow from others. There are lots of pre-made Excel templates to choose from online or you can use Google Calendar and Google Tasks. Other editorial calendar plug-ins, like CoSchedule, have a small monthly fee, but can aid with more complex content plans.
Our Top 5 Tips
1. Keep things as simple as possible
Whatever platform you choose, remember that this is a tool to help you, not confuse you, so only include what is necessary and expand and adjust as needed. If all you have right now is a monthly blog update, a simple document may do. If you have several blogs, multiple social streams, podcasts, YouTube channels and more, you might need something more comprehensive.
2. Identify your audience and content goals
If you haven’t already decided who you are trying to appeal to, now is the time. Remember, you don’t have to restrict yourself to one demographic. For instance, you might consider holidaying families to be your primary target, with business travellers as a secondary and honeymooners as a tertiary target group. Once you’ve identified the various audience types, decide how much of your content to devote to each. You may give over 60 percent of the total content to your key target audience, with smaller proportions directed at the other groups.
3. Highlight important calendar dates
Mark out busy dates and events for your hotel, such as school breaks, Christmas, Halloween and other major holidays, as well as important company events that you might want to publish content around, such as a new restaurant opening, a special event happening in the hotel or a one-off deal.
4. Check out local tourist board events calendars
See what’s happening near your hotel and note all events that may be relevant to your target audience in your editorial calendar. Every hotel should have expert knowledge of its region, and sharing useful information about local events will help beef up your authority. Add in recurring deadlines for regular content, such as bi-monthly podcasts, weekly blog posts or email newsletters too.
5. Consider it a work in progress
An editorial calendar should evolve and adapt to your needs. Don’t forget to allocate time on the calendar for brainstorming ideas and pitching so you can continue updating it. Once you get used to using one, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without it.