Travel is moving online. One would have to be completely oblivious to miss this. In 2015, 39% of travel bookings made from the United States were done online. Online travel sales made up for more than $533 billion.
Marketing, and especially content marketing, has an important role in this story. So, tour operators, read on.
Their projections have this number rise by about $50 billion each year in the next few years. As for even further down the road, it is too soon to tell, but it is very obvious that more and more people are going online for their travel needs.
For this very apparent and very simple reason, people who are trying to make a living in the travel industry cannot afford to lose online customers. This, of course, includes tour operators too. And simply being online has stopped being enough a long time ago. A tour operator needs to be visible.
Which brings us to the star of today's article – content marketing.
Content Marketing 101
Content marketing entails creating relevant and valuable content which will be used to promote a brand. While some people think that it is a modern invention, it is actually not.
For instance, a famous manufacturer of farming equipment, John Deere, did content marketing in the 19th century, publishing their own magazine called The Furrow where they provided farmers with useful and informative content. Of course, the ultimate goal was to promote the John Deere brand, but also to give their readers and potential customers new insights.
This is where content marketing becomes different from printed ads, TV and radio commercials and other types of advertising – giving the potential customers more than just an invitation to try out a brand.
Of course, with the advent of the internet, with its increased speed, options, and capabilities, content marketing started developing rapidly. Research from Kapost showed that two-thirds of B2B companies (which are traditionally more fact-driven in their marketing) consider content marketing one of their highest priorities.
The ultimate goal of content marketing is to bring in more customers. In the world of online marketing, this is all about becoming more visible and more popular online which can be done very naturally and effectively through producing fantastic content.
To be even more technical and crude, it is all about bringing as many people as possible to the web page where they can book a tour.
Content - What Should Tour Operators Write About?
More likely than not, the question that most tour operators will ask at this moment is what kind of content can and should they produce. The good news is that they are not in the slightest limited by certain industry idiosyncrasies that make some other business owners' content marketing efforts quite difficult.
Moreover, tour operators have a much wider array of content to choose from. These case studies from Online Marketing Gurus should get your hopes up. If they have managed to do great content marketing for plumbers, imagine what can be done in the travel industry.
1. Website + Blog
- Tour Business Owners Should Have a Website
The first step in spreading that tour operator content is to have a website developed where people will be able to book a tour online. Depending on the tour operator's budget, the website will be more or less elaborate, but these days, even those with limited means can get a pretty decent website.
- Tour Operators, Create Some Interesting Content
It is then time to fill it with content. The good thing about tour operators is that their content tends to be extremely appealing visually. All they have to do is take photos and videos during their tours and post them on the website. It might be a good idea to offer a professional (or at least semi-professional) photographer a free tour in exchange for their photo coverage of your most attractive tour. With the availability of HD cameras, making videos has never been easier – videos that will seem as if they were made by professionals.
- Write a Blog about Tours and Activities You Provide
Of course, it will also benefit a tour operator website to start a blog with regular articles. These articles can range from guides to areas covered by the operator, to fun reports from recent tours. If you have particularly satisfied customers, you can ask them to contribute to the blog with their own stories and photos.
As long as the content is unique, it has its place on your website.
2. Going Outside
- Creating Awareness about your Tours and Activities
Expecting that someone will come to your website solely because you have produced great content is blind optimism. You need to make people aware that you have great content and that they should check it out.
- Taking it to Social Media
The easiest way to do this is to take it to social media. Different social networks have different rules and you will need to be smart about what you are doing where. Also, if you think that you are doing particularly well on one of the social networks, there is no need to do them all. You can read more about this topic in this fantastic article. Of course, getting a bit of help from solutions like Orioly is always a good idea.
- Making People Read your Posts / Driving People to your Website
Another thing that you will want to do is have your content featured on other people's websites. This will not only expose your content to more people but also bring traffic to your website, as well as help its search engine position. This is done by including links to your website in the content you share on other people's websites. More precisely this is called link building and you can find a lot about the right way to do it in this article.
3. Going Advanced
Once you have mastered your basic content creating and sharing, it may be time to take things to another level with some advanced content marketing. And once again tour operators have plenty to choose from.
- Use Statistics and Facts
For instance, you might want to do serious research into the tour operator industry in your country or area, with plenty of statistics that people will use in future articles. You can also write something more comprehensive about the area that your tours cover, maybe the history of the area, something about the geography. It is up to you. This may take a while, but the potential benefits are more than worth it.
- Comment on Other Tour and Travel Content
You can also try and become an expert in your field, or at least someone people reach out to for comments. If you have ties to your local tourist community or local media, you can approach them about current topics and offer your expert commentary. Once again, this is a time-consuming technique, but it can definitely work.
- Create an Infographic
If you have the know-how or can afford to hire someone with the right skills, you should also consider creating an infographic about your area or the most popular tourist attractions in your country. This guide from Creative Bloq is probably the most comprehensive one on creating infographics.
Content marketing and tour operators definitely mix. Thanks to the ever-increasing number of "web-based tourists" and the fact that the travel industry is so visually and emotionally attractive, content marketing should become a huge part of every tour operator's marketing efforts.
AUTHOR: James D. Burbank has spent more than 15 years in the world of brand promotion. If you have the time, you can check out his blog – BizzMarkBlog.