To help you achieve this, the Key Content team have prepared an easy-to-follow guide to help you get the most from your online content marketing with specific focus on the travel, tourism and hospitality market.
Within our guide, you will find detailed information about:
- How to develop an effective a content strategy
- How to identify and appeal to your target audience
- How to make the most out of your image and video content
- How to develop a strong style guide
- How to research effective keywords
- How to establish a link building strategy
- How to effectively use metadata
- How to best translate your website
- How to get the most out of user generated content
- How to get the most out of social media
- How to monitor your progress
Each of these steps will help you develop and implement your own marketing strategy and are all specifically focused on the travel, tourism and hospitality market.
Why is Optimising your Online Marketing Strategy so Important?
Today, approximately 94% of consumers use the internet to research, plan and purchases products and services. In regards to the travel, tourism and hospitality market, these users depend on search engines to learn more about destinations, find the best deals on flights and accommodation, book tickets for regional events, and plan an itinerary for their trip. The websites that contain the most detailed information regarding all these areas are the ones that enjoy a higher ranking within search engines indexes. Therefore, it is vital that your website doesn’t just include information about your company’s offers and services, but also detailed destination guides, hotel descriptions and other related pieces of information that holiday makers might find useful.
How to Develop an Effect Content Strategy for the Web
An effective content strategy requires the regular creation, publication and promotion of unique content related to your company’s products and services. For travel and tourism marketing, this will include destination guides, accommodations guides and travelling tips tailored for holiday makers. If a visitor can find all the information they need about their holiday on your website, they are less likely to take their business elsewhere when it comes to booking. However, it is not just about creating relevant content; it is also about structuring it in a way that is easy to follow for users and search engines a-like. This involves including search engine optimisation elements such as keywords, detailed headings and sub-headings, meta tags and descriptions, image and/or video elements, and links to pages that provide visitors with further information related to their search.
How to Develop an Effective Content Marketing Strategy
Whether you are just starting out in the online world, or have been operating on the internet for a while: The successes of your online presence lives and dies according to the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy.
Developing such a plan requires so much more than simply listing your company’s products and services and hoping that your target audience will find the information for themselves: It requires the regular creation of content that is relevant to all areas of the travel, tourism and hospitality market and targeted specifically at a pre-determined target audience. Approximately 94% of your potential customers use the internet when planning events and booking their holidays, so putting an effective content marketing strategy in place gives you the best chance of ensuring they come to you ahead of your rivals. Here’s some questions you should ask yourself when developing your travel and tourism marketing strategy:
Who is Your Target Audience?
To develop a successful content marketing strategy, you need to clearly define your target audience. This is especially important new businesses looking to establish their presence within the market. Although generally your target audience will be men and women aged between 25 and 55 (ie. Holidaymakers with disposable income), you might offer more nuanced services that allows for more specific targeting (family holidays, holidays for pensioners, extreme sports holidays etc.).
By establishing your target audience, you can tailor more relevant and valuable content that they’ll want to read and convert on. However, even if you feel you are already established in the market, you may have introduced new offers that would appeal to customers outside your current targeted audience group. Do you want to target a new group of people or expand your current target market? Do you want to keep the same target audience? Revisiting your audience parameters each year is crucial when it comes to broadening your target market.
Equally as important is defining which language markets you want to target. This will determine whether or not you need to translate your online content.
What Information do You Want to Deliver?
Once you have defined your target audience, you can start generating ideas for what information you want your content to carry. If your business specialises in accommodation, for example, then the most important content should include detailed information about each accommodation on offer. This would include information about price, hotel room descriptions, room sizes, amenities, hotel’s history etc.
However, when booking a holiday, most users want to know about more than just where they will be sleeping during their trip; they want information about the best places to eat, where the liveliest clubs are, what child friendly activities are available in the local area etc. Therefore, in addition to your detailed guides regarding accommodation, you should include information about each accommodation’s surrounding neighbourhood, as well as the city/area at large. This will ensure that visitors are provided with all the information they could possibly need when booking their trip.
How do You Want to Deliver Your Information?
Knowing what information you want to display is only half the battle when it comes to content; the other half is knowing how to deliver it. Traditionally, information is presented in the form of text content as it is the easiest to generate and in many-ways, the most search engine friendly. However, the value of image and video content cannot be under estimated. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Adding graphic elements to your website not only gives the audience a glimpse at their accommodation or destination but also adds a look of professionalism and style to your page. As useful as text content is, many internet users will be put-off by a webpage that shows nothing more than a huge block of text. Instead, by structuring your text around videos and pictures, you can provide valuable information in the most aesthetically pleasing way possible.
This said, there is no reason why your text content can’t also be made to look appealing. By using sub-headings, bullet points, internal linking and quotes, you can significantly improve the chances of your information actually being read in full. After all, the longer a visitor stays on your page, the more likely they are to use your services.
How Will You Generate Your Content?
It is vital to establish an effective method to generate your content. There are a number of ways to do this including hiring an in-house team, outsourcing to reputable content specialists such as Key Content, or encouraging user-generated content by asking users to contribute information and personal input regarding destinations, accommodations and even your role in their holidays.
Remember: Your content should be regularly updated, so it isn’t enough to simply gather all your content, publish it and hope for the best. You need to ensure new content is being published on a regular basis, so however you decide to generate your content, make sure you develop an effective publishing schedule.
These are the most important considerations that need to be made when developing travel and tourism marketing plan, and throughout this guide there will be detailed information about how to approach each question and develop an effective content strategy for the web.
How to Identify and Appeal to Your Target Audience
In the travel, tourism and hospitality market it is vitally important that you understand the needs and wants of your potential client base if you want to maximise your sales opportunities. Who are you targeting? Why should they bring their business to you? What do you offer that your rivals do not? Knowing exactly who your clients are, what they want and how you can satisfy their demands can help you develop a content strategy for the web that will help generate your sales potential.
Consult your Business Plan
The first step towards defining your target audience is consulting your business plan and analysing the services you offer. Is your business primarily concerned with event planning? Accommodation? Package holidays? Whatever your primary services are, you have to consider how they satisfy the needs of your potential customers. Also, think about how you differ from your competitors. What is the overall benefit of your company when compared to other businesses in your industry? Figuring out your unique selling point (USP) is the first step towards identifying your ideal target audience.
Research your Market
When researching your market, start with secondary research. Look into existing sources concerning your industry, who your competition is targeting, and the broad potential customer base you have already identified in your business plan. This will give you a general idea as to your core demographic, however to get a more detailed breakdown you must also conduct your own primary research.
Primary research is important as it helps you identify your niche audience. For example, if you are business that specialises in luxury, 5-star holidays then your niche audience will be affluent holiday makers. Conversely, if you specialises in budget getaways, then you will need to know the demands of those looking for low-cost flights and accommodation.
Develop a Customer Profile
Customer profiles provide detailed descriptions of who your typical customer may be and includes useful demographic and psychographic information.
Demographic information: This should include age, gender, location, ethnic background, marital status, income, and more.
Psychographic information: This should go beyond the external information such as age and gender, and identify more about a customer’s psychology, interests, hobbies, values, attitudes, holiday preferences, spending patterns, lifestyle, and more.
Both areas of information are essential for developing a detailed customer profile and help you tailor your marketing plan to meet the demands and pique the interest of those you are targeting. Demographic information will help you identify the “who wants the service”, while psychographic information goes one step further and nails down the “why they want the service”.
Once a profile has been established, you will know exactly which areas of your services should be highlighted during your content marketing campaigns. Specialise in family holidays? Make sure you campaign targets parents and highlights how your service benefits adults and children alike. Excel in historical city tours? Ensure that your destination content provides intriguing details of all historical landmarks in the area. The more information you provide about your services and their benefits, the more likely it is that you will attract customers and turn page visits into bookings.
Find out your Audience’s Browsing Patterns
It’s not enough to just say who your target audience is; you also need to know what their online browsing patterns are. What websites and social media forums do they most frequently visit? Do they commonly check their email accounts? Do they use mobile phone apps? Knowing how your audience searches for information and spends their time on the internet will help you establish where to advertise your services. For example, if your business specialises in extreme sports holidays, you should target extreme sports forums and Facebook and Twitter groups that attract extreme sports enthusiasts.
Constantly Monitor Market Trends
Once you have identified your target audience, recognised their needs and wants, and established how they use the internet; you will be able to plan and execute an effective marketing plan. However, it is essential to continually conduct research into your market and their current trends so you can adapt your marketing campaign as and when it is necessary. Tracking the success of your campaigns is vital in regards to ensuring your money is being well spent and that you are fully up to date with the expectations of your audience. This is especially true of the travel and tourism market as new holiday trends, popular destinations and holiday-makers’ booking patterns change on a frequent basis.
How to Make the Most out of Your Image and Video Content
The importance of including graphical elements – image and video content – in your website’s design should not be underestimated. Such content plays an integral part in website design, not only in terms of providing visitors with an aesthetically pleasing webpage, but also in regards to search engine optimisation. In the travel and tourism market, image and video content could easily be the deciding factor of whether or not a customer books a room at your accommodation or a flight to your advertised destination. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words and being able to show off your elegantly designed hotel rooms, or the long stretches of golden sands your destination has to offer is the best way to pique your target audience’s interest.
The Importance of Image and Video Content
Image and video content significantly improves a website’s appearance by breaking up long sections of text and providing a visual anchor for the information provided. Research shows that websites with images and videos keep user attention for longer – and as longer visits increase the likelihood of conversion, it is little wonder why graphical features are seen as such an important element of search engine optimisation.
Graphical content is well suited for the travel and tourism market as there is no end of appropriate elements that can be used. For example, if your business specialises in hotels – then images of the rooms on offer is a great way to show potential customers the type of accommodation they can expect. Similarly, if you specialises in package holidays, pictures or even videos showing the surrounding area’s hotspots helps create a sense of place for visitors.
Presenting your Image and Video Content
Image and video content should be presented in a natural looking way that breaks up the text content of the webpage. Many website designs feature a relevant image at the top of each page and perhaps include a video or sideshow of images in the middle or at the end of the text. In the travel and tourism market, slideshows are especially commonplace as they convey a lot of information about an area without making visitors spend a lot of time reading.
However you decide to layout your page, care must be taken when selecting images and videos to display. Only use graphical elements that match the themes of the text, have been professionally produced and present an enticing look into the accommodations or destinations on offer. Additionally, knowing how to properly “tag” your graphical elements is important in order for search engines such as Google to recognize them. More information on how to tag your image and video content can be found here.
How to Develop a Strong Style Guide
Developing a strong style guide helps web designers create a cohesive user experience across websites featuring many pages. As most websites in the travel and tourism market feature hundreds, if not thousands of destination pages; having a detailed style guide is incredibly important. In addition to transferring your corporate brand’s identity to the web, a style guide ensures that future developers and designers also have a guide to work from when adding to your website. A professional style guide should include information about page layout, brand positioning, typography, colours, tone, and use of graphical elements.
Any business looking to sell their goods and services online should build their website with usability in mind. The easier your potential customers can navigate your offers and information, the higher the chances are of conversion. As such, each of your pages should feature a similar layout. For example, for businesses that specialise in renting accommodation, each of your accommodation pages should be laid out exactly the same. This helps visitors to easily compare offers.
Study the Brand
As many visitors will find your services via Google or other search engine searches, there is a likelihood that they will skip your homepage and land on a specific destination page. As such, ensuring that each of your pages displays important brand information is vital (for example, logos, taglines and other identifying iconography). Traditionally, the company logo should be positioned in one of the top corners of each of your pages, with taglines or company motos placed at the bottom of each page.
Typography is an essential communication tool when it comes to web design. Establishing a recognizable text style, weight and colour early in the design process is vital. You also have to consider use of your headline types (h1, h2, h3, h4, h5 and h6). Your h1 headline tag should only be used once at the very top of the page to introduce the destination, hotel and/or service being offered. For example “Hilton Hotel London”, or “Barcelona”. Also useful are h2 headline tags, which allow you to break up text by providing sub-headings to introduce new areas of information. For example “Local Attractions” or “Food & Drink in Paris”.
Many companies are immediately identifiable by their use of colours. For example, Coca-Cola use of red and white, and McDonald’s golden arches. Knowing what colour scheme you want dominating your website can help you establish a recognizable online presence. When doing this, think about your company’s logo and what colours compliment it. Also, think about what kind of services you are offering. Many travellers are looking for relaxation on their holidays, so a low contrast scheme using soft shades is well suited.
The tone of your website refers mainly to the text content that is present. This, like the colour scheme, needs to match your corporate identity and will largely be determined by your target audience. Is your target audience young and trendy? Are they parents with young children? Or are they elderly holidaymakers? Knowing exactly who your content is targeting will help you define the tone of your website.
Remember, however, that travelling is an experience that appeals to sense, so your content should be focused on that. Describe sights, sounds, atmospheres and sensations in a way that would best appeal to your target audience. Additionally, think about how to word the technical pages of your website. For example, your “404 error page not found” pages. Targeting a youthful audience? Perhaps think of a funny message to put here instead. This may seem like a small thing, but small details like this can help build a relationship between businesses and customers.
Each of your pages should make use of graphical elements. Not only do they break up text content, but also look appealing to visitors. For instance, a paragraph of text about a stretch of beach is never going to look as tempting as actually seeing a picture of the beach itself. Whether you specialise in event planning, accommodation or destinations; picture galleries or slideshows are always useful components of travel websites and should feature on each of your service pages. However, like the text content, the tone of each picture should appeal to your target audience. Businesses appealing to elderly travellers, for example, probably don’t need to show the children’s facilities at the hotel.
The main purpose of your website is to attract customers to book their holidays with your company. As such, making this process as simple as possible should be a major part of your website’s design. On each of your service pages, traditionally on a side panel, you should include “forms” in which customers can quickly and easily enter their information and book your services. On your non-service pages, such as your homepage, the first thing customers should be greeted with is a form in which they can enter their search information such as “destination”, “arrival and departing dates” and “budget”. Making your website easy to navigate will make all the difference when it comes to turning page visits to conversions.
How to Research Effective Keywords
Keyword research is one of the most important stages of any successful SEO campaign. Finding the keywords that best suit your products and services will significantly improve your company’s search engine visibility and increase your chances of attracting visitors to your website. However, it’s not always about getting visitors to your site; it’s about getting the right kind of visitors and in order to achieve this you have to have an understanding of the demands of the travel and tourism market.
The keywords visitors most commonly type into search engines can be established by using online SEO tools such as Sistrix and Searchmetrics. These tools detail how frequently certain keywords or keyword phrases are searched for, helping webmasters establish the most popular search terms that relate to their products and services. However, in order to fully understand the value of a keyword, a webmaster has to have a clear knowledge of their own website and the products and services offered within its pages.
When drawing up a list of keywords that you feel are appropriate for your website, you need to ask yourself a few questions such as: How relevant is the keyword to your website’s content? Will potential visitors find what they are looking for on your website when using these keywords? Will any traffic generated from these search words/phrases result in conversion? etc.
For example, if your business specialises in family holidays, then phrases such as “family holidays in Barcelona”, and “family holidays in Italy” would be useful keywords. However, it is also worth considering that these keywords are likely to highly competitive, so always try to establish as many natural sounding variations/synonyms as possible (Barcelona holidays for all the family).
One-word Search Terms and Longtail Keywords
One-word search terms such as “holiday” are often highly sought after by businesses as they have a high monthly search volume. However, such terms are also highly contested in marketing (SEM) as well as optimisation (SEO), meaning a high level of investment would be required to establish a high index ranking for these terms. Additionally, as “holiday” is a very vague and ambiguous term, these search phrases often have a low conversion rate. For example, your website might sell extreme sports holidays, whereas the user is looking for a budget city break.
An alternative to one-word search terms is longtail search terms, which provide millions of unique and specific search terms. These longtail search terms (for example: “Luxury European city cruises”) carry a much higher conversion rate and target users searching for a specific booking opportunity.
Once you have determined your keywords and keyword phrases, it is important to develop a semantic word cloud that relate to your services. Continuing with the “extreme sports holiday” as an example, your semantic word cloud could include words and phrases such as “sport holidays”, “skiing”, “wind surfing” etc. This will target specific members of your target group.
How to Best Translate your Website
The rise of the internet as a marketing tool has enabled companies of all sizes to appeal to international audiences. For many businesses, especially those that mainly operate online such as travel and tourism companies, this provides an opportunity to target potential customers from all over the world. In order to do this, your company must be able to provide content that is informative, attractive and understandable in a wide range of languages. However, this involves much more than simply translating your existing content directly, as local customs and SEO considerations have to be taken into account to ensure that your website is as appealing in French, German, Chinese and Italian as it is in English.
Choose Your Translator Wisely
When hiring an agency, freelancer or full-time member of staff to translate your website, it is prudent to ensure that they are familiar with SEO techniques. Keyword phrases that work in your company’s native language may not work so well when translated, so it is vital that your translator is able to create a translation that remains true to the original source but is also fully optimized and natural sounding to local markets. With this in mind, using native speakers is always an advantageous move as they will be familiar with local customs.
Many businesses in the travel and tourism market feature websites that contain many pages, meaning that there is often a lot of content to translate. Developing an efficient process for these translations can be both time-effective and cost-effective in the long run. For example, if you are using a number of different translators to translate your English content into French, ensure you develop a glossary to ensure consistency during the process. This will also be beneficial should you require content to be translated in the future and use the services of a different translator.
Conduct Market Research
Launching your website in a foreign market requires more than a simple translation of the content. Knowing each market’s browsing and buying habits is crucial when expanding your company. For example, if your company is based in Britain and specializes in budget holidays, it is fair to assume that holidays in central Europe or even within Britain itself could be booked relatively inexpensively. As such, destinations such as London, Paris, Rome and Berlin would the kind of destinations that would feature on your homepage. However, should your company expand into foreign markets, you will have to re-consider which destinations could be booked inexpensively by people living in Moscow, for example. Knowing popular destinations and travel preferences of each of your target markets is essential when it comes to translating and launching your travel and tourism website into international markets.
How to Get the Most out of User Generated Content
The travel and tourism market provides the ideal forums for companies to take advantage of user generated content. Providing a comments section or blog on your website is a great way to encourage users to share their experiences with one another, while also promoting your brand and effectively updating your website content on a regular basis free-of-charge. These forums and blogs are especially useful if linked to social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as travel forums read by members of your target audience. However, there are certain steps you first need to take to ensure you really get the most out of your user generated content.
On-Page User Generated Content
It is estimated that around 90% of online consumers trust peer recommendations. This in itself highlights the importance of featuring user generated content on your website. For the travel, tourism and hospitality markets, featuring user forums or “write a review” fields on your service pages is a great way to encourage previous customers to share their experiences of hotels, destinations or package holidays booked through your company with potential customers. Additionally, these forums and “write a review” fields provide excellent SEO opportunities as they are naturally written, regularly updated and often feature relevant keywords.
Off-Page User Generated Content
In addition to featuring opportunities for customers to write reviews on your website, it is also worth considering creating official social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, travel forums etc.) for previous customers to discuss the hotels, destinations or packages your company offers. These pages should include links to your website and most popular landing pages. Again, this is a great way to generate free, SEO friendly content that draws attention to your company.
Encourage Social Interaction
Although many online users are more than happy to share their opinions with the world without encouragement, it is also a good idea to offer small incentives to registered users. For by featuring well written reviews/articles on your home page or social media pages, by including a “was this review useful?” button, or creating polls and topics of conversation within your blogs (for example: What is your favourite destination for skiing?). By encouraging previous customers and potential customers to interact, discuss all matters related to travelling, and review your services you are generating invaluable content that improves your service’s visibility in regards to SEO and helps grab the attention of holiday makers.
How to Get the Most out of Social Media
Social Media has become one of the most effective forms of marketing in the online world. Providing businesses with the ability to interact directly with their target audience, generate attention to new deals, offers and services, and advertise their brand across the world, social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook should play an important role in any businesses online marketing strategy. However, simply setting up a Facebook page and Twitter account is not enough; you also have to conduct research into your target audience and establish the best way to use social media marketing to suit the needs of the travel and tourism market.
Target Audience Research
When setting up a social media campaign, it is important to discover which social media channels your target audience use and how they use them. In the travel and tourism market, many users enjoy sharing their holiday experiences on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, making these two channels especially useful. These two platforms also provide different ways in which you can interact with your audience and, ideally, get them to contribute to your page. For example, running a Facebook competition for the best holiday blog, or an Instagram competition for the best holiday photo is a great way to generate activity on your social media pages.
Once you have established on which channels your target audience are most active, you can also pay for advertising on these websites that directly target members of your target audience and appear on their profile pages. This helps generate brand awareness and ensures that your advertisements are being seen by the relevant people.
Regularly Updated Content
One of the many advantages social media platforms provide that corporate websites don’t is that you can use a more relaxed tone when addressing your potential customers. While your website will contain detailed information about holiday destinations, budget travel guides and luxury accommodations, your social media pages can show a more personal side to your company, with regularly updated blog posts, video content, photographs and interactive competitions. By regularly updating your social media content, you are more likely to attract regular page views. This is especially ideal if you frequently update your offers and want to advertise the fact without having to pay for new advertising campaigns. Additionally, engaging and interesting content is likely to encourage page visitors to share posts with their friends, generating more brand awareness and expanding your potential client base.
Ways to Measure your Marketing Performance
Even the most successful marketing campaigns can be improved upon, and this is especially true of those focused on the competitive travel and tourism market. As such, it is always important to monitor the successes and failures of your campaign beyond the statistics that show website traffic and sales. There are a number of ways to do this, each of which will help marketers monitor the progress of their campaigns and identify areas that could be improved upon
To get a real sense for how your website is performing, you need to analyse areas which best illustrate the successes and failures of your campaign. These areas should include conversion rates, backlinks, and how engaged your page visitors are.
If you’re investing time and money in building a website you need to ensure that the effort is worthwhile. In the travel and tourism market, the main aim is to attract your target audience to your services and encourage them to book their flights, accommodation or other facets of their holidays through your website. Therefore, it is important to establish not only how many people are visiting your website, but how many of these people are converting their visits into bookings. If you have a lot of people visiting but a relatively low conversion rate, you might need to re-consider how your website is structured and what content is featured. However, if the conversion ratio is high but the number of people visiting is low then you need to put more effort into attracting attention to your services.
Following Google’s algorithm updates, it’s clearer than ever that the quality of your backlink profile is more important than ever. If you don’t know what types of links are in your backlink profile, you risk being penalized by the search engines. Therefore, establishing where your backlinks are coming from is essential. Additionally, this will help you monitor which links are most effective in directing traffic to your website.
Visitor engagement refers to how much time visitors spend on your site and how much value they see in your content. This can be tracked in a number of ways, including:
- Average time spent on your website (the longer the better)
- Bounce rate, which measures the number of visitors who don’t navigate beyond the first page of your website that they land on (the lower the better)
- Average pages per visit (the higher the better)
- Number of social media shares (the higher the better)
Visitor engagement is important because of the potential business gains from providing customers with an engaging content, information and general user experience.