Editor’s Note: This is part one 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.
Did you know that, according to IBM research, 80 percent of corporate blogs have fewer than five blog posts?
Take a moment to digest that number. It’s pretty sobering, don’t you think? And sad, since a travel blog is the perfect way to spark conversation with your guests, provide dynamite information, and really showcase your company’s personality. Not to mention, build industry authority, snag great links, boost your search engine position, and… well, you get the drift.
And that’s why the only thing worse than not blogging is abandoning your blog. It screams of defunct business – or neglect. Can you imagine letting your hotel lobby fall into disrepair? Or failing to send in housekeeping before new guests arrived? Or not familiarizing yourself with tours and hotels, before recommending them to travel agency clients? No, I didn’t think so.
So we’ll start at the very beginning. If you don’t yet have a blog – or if you’re reviving a lifeless one – the keys of successful travel business blogging are simple: commitment and consistency. Now let’s talk details:
In Part 1 of The Zen of Travel Content Marketing, we’re focusing on the behind-the-scenes but ultra-important details of launching your business’s travel content marketing and strategy. These steps may not seem as glitzy as glamourous blog design or snazzy writing, but they’re essential to building a blog that you enjoy writing (that’s commitment) and can nourish for years to come (that’s consistency) – and that your clients want to read and share.
Define Your Audience
Before you type one word on your newsletter, website or blog – before you install WordPress, even – you must ask yourself, “Who will read my content?” This isn’t a creative writing prompt, my friends: it’s critical thinking. Create real, live personas (the marketing version of imaginary friends) that describe your core demographic(s). Define a few distinct personas, but try to keep your total under 10.
For example, if you run a travel agency in the family travel niche, two possible client personas would be:
- Jacob Frazzled: Jacob is in his mid-30s and works in the financial industry in NYC. He has a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old. Between work and family, he’s always tired. He and his wife are planning a getaway with the kids. Their focus is on kid-friendly hotels and activities, but they also want some alone time.
- Susie Empty-Nester: Susie is a middle-aged career woman whose adult children now have their own families. Once a year, they plan a multi-generational vacation, with Susie and her husband, their children, and their grandchildren.
Flesh Out Pain Points
Pain points are your customers’ real or perceived problems and concerns. Travelers have many, many pain points – everything from travel logistics (what’s the cheapest/shortest/easiest flight?) to packing the right activity-relaxation balance into their vacation itinerary. Chances are, you’re already intimately familiar with your clients’ pain points – the questions they ask, over and over, in phone calls, emails and other communications.
Travel pain points are the foundation of your blog. This is what you’re going to write about, every week, because solutions to common concerns will keep your customers coming back for more. So let’s pop back up to your personas: What are the pain points for each?
- Jacob Frazzled: Jacob is in his mid-30s, so he’s in the early stages of his finance career. He receives little paid vacation time. He makes good money, but he lives in New York where cost of living is high. He has limited disposable income. He has two young children, who demand as much of his time and energy as he can give. He is frazzled. He is tired. Jacob is in desperate need of a vacation escape for rejuvenation and stress-relief. He enjoys family vacations with the kids, but he also values alone time with his wife.
- Susie Empty-Nester: Susie’s children are adults with families of their own. She wishes she could see more of her children and grandchildren, so she cherishes every moment of their multi-generational vacations. She has an established career and plenty of disposable income, so her vacation experience is more important than cost. (Although value is still important.) When they travel together, they prefer activities that involve all three generations.
Develop Your Solution
Your opportunity lies between your personas’ pain points and your solutions. Solutions create value for your clients – they’re the reason they read your blog, subscribe to your list, and ask you to stay in touch. As you develop your personas and explore their pain points, you’ll find plenty of areas of opportunity. These are your blog posts.
Remember, blogging is all about sharing. Free and open sharing. Don’t hold back or provide half-solutions or keep secrets; that’s a sure way to alienate everyone. Providing solutions builds trust and goodwill, and gives potential customers a reason to keep coming back – and to think of you first when they start planning their next vacation.
- Jacob Frazzled: Jacob would love to read posts about the best values in travel, hotels that offer low-cost babysitting, kid-friendly cruises, romantic daytrips, and relaxing weekend getaways (for those rare, three-day weekends).
- Susie Empty-Nester: Susie, on the other hand, would love to hear more about the top destinations for multigenerational travel, the world’s most memorable vacation experiences, and unforgettable activities for both the young and young-at-heart.
It’s probably been a long time since you had homework, but I promise this assignment’s worth it. Carve out some time to get to know your audience (personas), explore their pain points, and develop solutions. You don’t need to flesh out your solutions, just jot down a few post titles like the above.
And if you’re game, please post in the comments what you come up with! (Or just post your questions; I’m happy to help.)
Other installments in The Zen of Travel Content Marketing series: