Editor’s Note: This is part five of The Zen of Travel Content Marketing series on building an inspired (and inspirational) content strategy for your hospitality or tourism business. (Still not convinced you need content or a blog? You do.) As I publish each new installment, I’ll link it at the bottom of this post.
They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery. And while I wouldn’t recommend copying or duplicating your favorite travel content marketing, you can certainly take inspiration from others. After all, travelers like what they like: they click and share and follow for epic photos and awesome checklists and free content so good, they probably would have paid for it. (Stuck for inspiration? Here are 26 travel content ideas to get your creative juices flowing.)
Because here’s the secret: content marketing isn’t magic. It isn’t as hard to understand as SEO. And it certainly isn’t new: companies have been using content to market themselves for more than a century. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel; you just have to decorate the wheel with your own brand of creativity.
One of the best parts of my job is digging up sparkling gems of content marketing from around the globe. In Part 3 we discussed travel content channels, so I thought I’d showcase some of my personal favorites in travel blogging, free guides, and downloadable ebooks. These companies are kicking butt and taking names. Call them my content marketing crushes.
And did I mention I saved the best part part for last: scale. The following aren’t examples of pricey, over-complicated campaigns that require a team of marketers, writers, designers and publishers. No; this is simple, effective travel content marketing that you can replicate – in your own way, of course – for under $1,000 a month. So get started on getting inspired – and please share your favorites in the comments!
Oyster Hotels [disclosure: a client of mine] publishes one of the most enjoyable travel blogs out there. Equal doses inspiration and fantasy – think Caribbean locales without Caribbean crowds and cozy mountain lodges for your last winter hurrah – infuse fun into reading about beautiful places and incredible things. And if you’ve always wondered how to weave your product into your blog without being too self-serving, have a look: Oyster always manages to link at least one of their hotel or destination offerings. But it’s helpful, not pushy – just as it should be.
The Standard, a group of boutique hotels, has really taken content marketing to the next level: community. Their Standard Culture blog is a place for Standard guests and area locals – there are hotels in New York, L.A. and Miami – to voice their love of the city, celebrate modern tastes, and buzz about culture. The blog features vibrant photography, traveler contributions, and original features, plus hotel-centered content like upcoming events and a look behind the Standard curtain.
Guomon Hotels Blog
Maybe it’s because I love London – fine, I’m obsessed – but the Guoman Hotels blog really draws me in. Their posts are a lovely blend of London-themed posts, like Secrets From London’s Foodies, and English culture (how cute is their post on Dickens at Christmas: A Walking Map of London?). What I particularly love is that the blog is completely approachable – you can do this, no joke. Just post, one week at a time.
Free Travel Guides
I simply cannot get enough of Tennessee Vacation, the state’s official trip-planning website. If you’ve never visited, prepare yourself: the site features beautiful design, interactive features, and a boatload of content. And by boatload, I mean an entire pirate ship full of treasure. Go ahead and mouse over their Things to Do tab and choose your favorite; it’s like disappearing down a rabbit hole of content so good, you can’t help but explore, plan and daydream until you drop.
Costa Rican Vacations
Costa Rican Vacations [disclosure: a client of mine] is one of my absolute favorite examples of content marketing done right. Though small (less than 50 employees), CRV sees the value in content and dedicates time and resources to creating truly awesome and fact-filled info for Costa Rican vacationers. Take their newly refreshed Costa Rica travel guide, which covers topics from destinations to packing tips, written by people who know and love Costa Rica.
Airbnb’s Neighborhood guides are a pretty spectacular blend of local knowledge, sparkling photography, and real-life quotes from past visitors – not to mention, helpful links to rooms and homes for rent in each neighborhood. Oh yeah, and a call-to-action encouraging neighborhood gurus to contribute their own knowledge to the guide. It’s an informative, interactive and well-integrated approach to free travel guides.
Hong Kong Tourism Board
Tourism Boards are really good at free eBooks, and Hong Kong does a great job of it. They offer all their downloads in easy pdf format, and the guides cover a wide range of topics, like the Best of Culinary Rewards and a Guide to Family Fun. They also have more general guides to Hong Kong, but those targeted niche guides are where the money’s at.
Say what? Visit Florida has it going on – big time! I absolutely love their free Florida travel guides that cover a range of traveler interests – think hiking, biking and LGBT travel – all in downloadable eBook format. And while yes, they’re a big state tourism board, no, this is not something that you can’t do, too. All it takes is some creativity, writing chops, and maybe a few hours of quality design (or familiarity with your favorite publishing software). My suggestion: offer your eBooks in exchange for an email address.
Did you know that brochures, done right, can be repackaged as downloadable guides/eBooks? Take Visit Iceland’s beautiful brochure, which has an eye-catching mix of spectacular photography and introductory information – real, helpful and non-promotional content – to Iceland. I love the Top 5’s peppered throughout, and I’ll bet Iceland tourists do, too. (Bonus points to Visit Iceland for providing downloads for different dialects, like British vs. U.S. English!)
So there are a few of my favorites. What are the best examples of travel content marketing you’ve ever come across?
Other installments in The Zen of Travel Content Marketing series: