For travel companies, writing a blog can be a powerful way of generating additional interest, driving web traffic and expressing your brand voice.
But according to Travel Age West “few [travel firms] are spending much time making regular updates to their website, and fewer still are doing any form of blogging.”
But travel agents and others, “need to reconsider adding blogging to their social media mix, as the numbers demonstrating impact are compelling,” the post goes on to say. “According to HubSpot, companies that blog get 55% more website visitors… more importantly, 57% of all business have acquired a new customer through their company blog.”
These figures demonstrate the impact that good travel copywriting can have, but how does one go about creating an effective blog that will provide the maximum return on investment?
A blog is not a single entity, but a collection of blog posts, so the answer lies in consistently creating and publishing perfect travel blog posts.
How do you do that? Read on…
What is a perfect travel blog post?
Before we look at what ingredients constitute a perfect blog post, we should identify what exactly we mean by one, more specifically, the effects that it will have. For a company operating in the travel sector, a perfect blog post should:
- Bring extra traffic to the website
- Capture interest and promote brand exposure through social media
- Strengthen brand loyalty
- Drive additional bookings
- Reflect positively on your travel brand and boost your credibility
So, how do you go about creating this perfect beast?
Step one: Pick an interesting/useful/inspiring topic
In order to create a travel blog post which stands out above the rest as exceptional, you must first choose a topic which is genuinely interesting. You can get everything else right, but if the topic of your blog is about something dull and tedious, or is blatantly self-serving, it will be doomed to obscurity. It’s fine to have the occasional post about your latest offer or other service, but the majority of your posts should either excite readers or provide them with valuable advice. To give you a few examples of interesting and useful topics, let’s take a look at some of Thompson’s recent blog topics:
- ‘Wine-tasting in Santorini’
- ‘DJ Maya Jama Talks Style and Shopping in Thailand’
- ‘Top Food Festivals from around the world’
- ‘5 Ways to Budget on Holiday’
Each of these topics connects with people and their holiday dreams, either by giving them inspiration and ideas for the kind of things that they might do while on holiday, or by giving them advice on how to get the most out of their holiday.
To create a blog post that will really resonate with your prospective customers, step inside their shoes for a moment and ask yourself what they’d really like to know, or what might tantalise their wanderlust.
Step two: Get specific
Once you’ve picked a killer topic, you then need to ensure that you include plenty of detailed information in your post that deals with that topic. It’s no good drawing readers in with a hot subject if you then take a wishy-washy approach to it that never really gets to the nub of the matter. People want information they can use, and useful information deals with specifics.
Over on the Thomas Cook blog, many of their posts deal with specific elements of a destination. For example, the post ‘Top 7 Free Things to Do in Gran Canaria’ highlights seven very specific things – ideas that readers can latch onto – such as walking the Masapalomas dunes, climbing up to Roque Nublo, or walking through the Jardin Canario botanical gardens.
By being specific about what visitors can do, rather than being vague and talking about ‘walking on the beach’ or ‘enjoying a drink at the bar’, the travel company makes the ideas more engaging. Why? Because people can better envisage doing these things.
Step three: Structure eloquently
When people read your blog they’re looking to be entertained, but they’re also often seeking information. For instance, if your blog is about Rome, there may be one specific aspect of the city that they’re keen to discover more about. If they can find that information easily then they’re more likely to continue to read the rest of the post, and you can help them do so by structuring your post clearly and logically.
In ‘A Lady in London’s’ ‘Guide to Summer in San Francisco, she adopts a conversational style, but at the same time she uses helpful sub-headers to sign-post the piece for reading ease. These include:
- ‘Summer Weather in San Francisco’
- ‘Summer Festivals in San Francisco’
- ‘Day Trips from San Francisco’
- ‘Farmer’s Markets in San Francisco’
It’s worth noting that using keyphrases such as these as sub-headers will also help Google and other search engines to determine the relevance of the post to users’ queries, and this in turn may boost inbound traffic numbers.
Use plenty of sub-headers and bullet points as appropriate in your post, to break it up and make it easier to scan. It’s also a good idea to include pictures which can further illustrate your piece and draw attention to specific areas.
Step four: Provide value
The more useful information you can provide, the more effective your blog will be in converting visitors into customers and in garnering social shares. So what kind of information do people mostly seek?
- Information about the culture of a destination
- Practical information about getting about, money etc
- Details of specific landmarks, attractions and activities in a destination/ region
- Speculative information about types of trips. ie. ‘the world’s top ten dive spots’ or ‘Seven natural wonders to visit before you die’
In boutique hotel experts’ Mr and Mrs Smith’s blog post, ‘Five reasons to visit Malta in summer’, they very methodically provide a great deal of information that readers can actually use to decide upon and plan their trip. The post focuses on five events taking place and provides specific information on each. For example, the entry for the Delicata Wine Festival reads:
“When: 6-9 August
Where: Upper Barrakka Gardens in Valetta
What: You didn’t know they made wine in Malta?… All the more reason to seize the chance for a sampling at this three-night winery-hosted event, enhanced by live music, fine food and a tipsily sophisticated party atmosphere…”
The emphasis here is on useful information which people can use to determine whether A) Malta is a destination for them, and B) what time of year is best to visit.
Provide value to your readers, and you may find that repay you with their custom.
Aim for continuous perfection
After a little experimenting with these guidelines, you should have nailed the art of the travel blog down to a precise formula that can be replicated on a weekly basis. It’s then just a matter of being consistent and keeping fresh ideas flowing. If you begin running short of material, you can always ask your blog readers if there are any specific travel topics or issues that they’d like to know more about.