After a two-year-long rollercoaster ride of closures, setbacks and travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the tourism industry is coming back to life at long last. But just when hoteliers began to open their doors and regular flights resumed, the world was hit again by a new stream of crises. The war in Ukraine, astronomical fuel prices and the rising cost of living present novel challenges, but travel writing still remains an excellent tool for navigating these uncertain times.
Despite these external challenges, the desire to travel is still there. Recent statistics from IATA (International Air Travel Association) show that global flight traffic now stands at 74.6 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. In fact, in a world shaken by internal and international crises, new travel trends are emerging. Whether it’s wellness retreats, off-grid discovery, virtual travel events, or the unprecedented rise in digital nomadism, the whole world is desperate to follow the call of adventure.
With your target audience itching to travel but facing increasing costs and a decreased budget, you might be tempted to compete with low prices. However, having a bumper season to compensate for lost time isn’t a sustainable way forward. Instead, you want to ensure your business can offer excellent service for years to come, which is why investing in travel marketing can help you stand out in a sea of special offers, extra-low discounts and flashy added benefits.
So it’s time to go back to the drawing board and map your mission. This will lay the foundations for sharing your core message with your audience. With a strong travel marketing strategy based on quality content, you have the chance to cut through the endless noise and offers and, instead, create an emotional connection with your audience – offering them a sustainable reason to travel with you.
A challenging environment
Out of all sectors, tourism took the biggest hit during the pandemic. An estimated $847-$1,175 billion was lost, placing companies in immense financial distress. In 2021, despite a large part of the world being open after vaccine roll-out schemes and intermittent lockdowns, international travel was still a staggering 72 per cent below 2019 pre-pandemic levels, with many travel experts not expecting it to recover fully until 2024.
The continued COVID-19 restrictions in some countries and the slow opening up of others, including Bhutan and Hong Kong, have made for slow improvement. Add to this the drastically increased fuel costs, the closed airspace leading to fewer flight routes, and spiralling inflation, and the reasons behind the delay become clear.
But what does this mean for businesses in the travel sector? Well, it’s important to remember that it’s not only hotels and airlines that have suffered. In many countries, the travel industry plays a vital role in the GDP, such as Thailand, where six per cent of the GDP comes from tourism. As this industry loses out, so does everyone else.
With a slight touch of fear still in the air and a long road to full recovery ahead, whether you’re a destination management company, a tourist board, an airline, or a travel company, you need to provide a compelling reason for travellers to choose you.
The good news
The Covid pandemic prompted some positive changes in the industry. Smart players realised early in the pandemic that travellers were in dire need of information. How can they make decisions without seeing the big picture? From the early days of cancellations to the many red and amber lists, the best-performing travel companies kept clients updated with well-staffed call centres, proactive information and marketing campaigns that showed they understood travellers’ concerns.
The other positive development is that those months of lonely contemplation at home left people with a burning desire to experience more, see more and do more. People have dreamt of their ideal exotic holiday and are itching to make it a reality. They want to reconnect with the world, explore new cultures and immerse themselves in nature after a year of living in the confines of their homes.
According to the Economist Intelligence, this is evidenced by the growth of global tourism, which is expected to rise by 30 per cent in 2023. Take Saudi Arabia as an example: in the first six months of 2022, international arrivals increased by 287 per cent, putting them within easy reach of 2019 levels.
Against this nuanced backdrop, great writing works wonders in making destinations stand out, and publishing a persuasive marketing campaign with strong travel content is not as hard as it sounds. In fact, you probably have all the information and ideas you need at your fingertips. You just have to communicate effectively.
The value of content marketing
Content marketing has a high return on investment for businesses in any sector, not just travel. The difference with travel is that these internal and external crises have left the industry more competitive than ever. Now, it’s crucial to invest in a good travel marketing strategy to help you attract attention and tempt people to spend their hard-earned cash with you.
Begin with updated web content, search engine-optimised blog posts, and some engaging social media campaigns. Add some targeted email marketing to the mix, and, voilà, you have a whole ecosystem of information that brings your clients directly to you.
In 2017, 74 per cent of companies found that their content marketing led to more, better-quality leads, whilst 62 per cent of marketers claims to produce at least one piece of content a day. Despite these statistics, according to keyword research platform SEMrush, only 57 per cent of companies has a content marketing strategy in place in 2022.
If you don’t have a defined content marketing strategy, you’ll fall behind your competitors. Content is king, particularly in the travel industry. Here’s why.
1. Travel writing gets people thinking about travel before deciding to buy
When you release content that provides relevant information on the travel industry, people who may not have been initially thinking about a holiday may suddenly feel the urge to book a trip. This leads them to look into your content and possibly even purchase your product or service.
2. Relevant content keeps your brand at the forefront of their minds
If a potential customer is searching for information on the best areas to visit post-pandemic, and they come across a blog you’ve posted that tells them just that, they have been exposed to your brand. By giving your audience the facts they’ve been searching for and something your competitors aren’t, you’re giving yourself an advantage. Your brand will stick in readers’ minds as a helpful resource, and they will be more likely to return to make a purchase.
3. Written content can showcase credibility and authority
Quality written content is a highly effective way to show potential customers what they will get once they’ve purchased your product or service. Case studies and testimonials show them what they could experience with your company and present you as trustworthy; a critical quality in the post-pandemic world.
Written content brings many benefits to your business and customers. It takes time to build up traffic to your website, so getting started promptly is important.
How to kickstart your travel marketing
To get ahead of the game and start building your marketing strategy as soon as possible, here are the best ways you can enhance your content:
Reach your audience
There is no point in creating content your audience doesn’t want to read. Provide valuable content they can relate to and determine your target customer, the topics of interest, and the best social media platforms to use. For example, younger people are more likely to be on Instagram than on Facebook, whereas business professionals can be found on platforms such as LinkedIn.
You probably already have a good idea of your audience, but it can be challenging to know what else they’re interested in reading about. Tools like Google Trends can help you analyse that. Other sources worth considering are the travel sections in newspapers and magazines, online forums and your own sales team. They’ll know the questions customers normally ask and their common pain points.
Choose the right keywords
Long-tail keywords are your golden ticket to getting noticed online. These are the longer search terms people use online, which result in less competition and a greater chance of potential guests finding your page. This means that when investing in SEO, you want to avoid using common and oversaturated words like ‘resort’ because the competition to rank is too high. Instead, ensure you use phrases of three to five words, like ‘family resort near Malaga Spain’.
While long-tail keywords might encourage fewer visits, those who do land on your site will be closer to the point of purchase than other searchers who are solely looking for holiday inspiration. This is because your choice of unique keywords brings targeted visitors to your site who are more likely to have searched specifically for you. You can find long-tail keywords using online tools, such as Semrush, Google Trends, Wordtracker, SECockpit and Keywords Everywhere.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes
Although it can be tempting to focus on business-focused content, in reality, you need to channel a more customer-centric mindset. Will they want to read a blog post boasting about what makes your brand great? Most likely, no. Instead, you want to present useful information that offers a solution to their problem. You want to answer their questions before your competitors and direct them straight to you.
Then, when you’ve got their attention, ensure your content focuses on benefits rather than features. Paint a picture of the perfect holiday and then invite them into the experience. This means, rather than listing the features, describing how they’ll make visitors feel.
Create quality content
Good content is common, so you should make sure yours is a cut above the rest. You can do this by ensuring everything you publish is accurate, relevant, in-depth and helpful. Take the time to carefully edit and check for any errors. This is critical if you want your audience to trust you.
If reading your content makes them want to pull out a red pen, they are unlikely to have faith in any other claims you make. This might seem dramatic, but a 2013 survey showed that 59 per cent of Brits wouldn’t buy from a company that had visible errors in their web copy or marketing materials. We associate spelling mistakes and bad grammar with scams and phishing emails, so it’s best to triple-check.
The time to act is now
Although the market is far from being back to normal, and the cost of living crisis is causing undeniable strain, people are travelling the world again and feeling more adventurous than ever before. With the worst of the pandemic fading into the distance, the time is ripe for developing a content strategy that will help you go from empty resorts to being in their thoughts.
If you want to stay competitive and generate more leads with an effective travel marketing strategy, Contese travel content creators can help. We are travel writing experts with experience creating and executing powerful travel content marketing strategies. To get ahead, get in touch.