What type of traveller are you? When you’re planning a trip do you know exactly where you want to go, how you’re going to travel, where you want to stay and what you want to do when you get there?

Or are you more free spirited or impulsive and seek inspiration? If you are then you definitely won’t be flying solo. Around three-quarters of undecided UK travellers are open to help and inspiration according to Expedia.

When you’re doing a day job as a content marketer you’ll know that customers will be online to research, compare, plan or book a trip. They’ll be seeking information and ideas. They’ll want to know about the best deals and offers, unmissable destinations and experiences, undiscovered corners of the world, accommodation, local restaurants, slow travel and sustainability. And much, much more.

To be successful online in 2020 travel companies need to ensure that their travel content marketing and the technological solutions that they implement are working together seamlessly to reach customers and increase share of the digital travel wallet. You’ll need to understand how tech-driven trends are influencing the way marketers create content.

What are the big travel trends impacting content marketing strategies this year?

Growth in online sales continues to head skywards.

By 2023, Phocuswright reports that 75% of UK travel purchases will be made on the web, and three quarters of the purchases are expected to flow through supplier-direct websites and apps.

All travel businesses need to think about how their web content meets the information needs of their customers and visitor base, especially on mobiles. Marketing brands like TwoSix Digital report that they see at least 50% of traffic to tourism websites coming from smartphones. This accounts for around 60-70% of traffic. This will grow year-on-year too.

And the customer journey won’t be linear. Think With Google research found that one traveller engaged in over 500 touchpoints during their research for an upcoming trip. People turn to their devices to get instant answers and at every touchpoint they express an intent that your content can answer.

In this article we look in-depth at the 7 trends shaping the future of travel content marketing. Read on to find out how hyper-personalisation, immersive experiences, mobile and voice search, micro-moments, video and eco-travel are all impacting the types of content you need to create to keep your online sales in the air and your competitors on the ground.

  1. Personalisation

Taking a trip is a personal thing – and so is travel content.

Hyper-personalisation is definitely one to watch. And it's a top priority for 51% travel marketers this year according to Travel Technology Europe. Every holiday – and every holidaymaker – is different. Customers are looking for more than generic content and they want brands to put more effort into personalisation. In fact, 87% of respondents in the TTE survey say that’s what customers are asking for more of.

From a travel content marketing perspective, the ability to personalise for specific types of users can be an incredibly effective way to engage. For some travel brands personalisation often begins and ends with ‘Dear [name]’ in an email. And then every email is an incentive to book again. But the web and data analytics makes it possible to personalise for your customers like never before.

When you’re doing a day job as a content marketer you’ll know that customers will be online to research, compare, plan or book a trip. They’ll be seeking information and ideas. They’ll want to know about the best deals and offers, unmissable destinations and experiences, undiscovered corners of the world, accommodation, local restaurants, slow travel and sustainability. And much, much more.

How to personalise your content

1.Use predictive recommendations

AI-powered recommendations were also highlighted as a key trend in the TTE survey at 47%. Recommendations are not new. Brands like Amazon have been doing this for years. They don’t offer everyone the same experience. Instead, they make predictions about the kinds of things that people will like, based on their past behaviour. In the consumer’s eyes the travel experience is no different.

By utilising the same techniques via a login and data capture system on your travel booking site, you can increase the level of engagement customers have with your brand with a more tailored travel content marketing strategy.
If for example, a customer has previously booked an active holiday including scuba diving, you might deliver to them content which looks at things like ‘watersports you need to try’ or ‘best places to scuba dive’.

If, on the other hand, in their last couple of visits to your site the customer has been looking at beach holidays, you could then (through personalisation algorithms) direct them towards content about the best, most exotic, or quirkiest, beaches and resorts in the world.

If a customer has booked a city break, you could share a suggested itinerary for the holiday.

2. Be social

The Association of British Travel Agents reports that 54% of social browsers now use social media to research products.

Use thoughtful travel content marketing to capitalise on this trend:

  • PPC advertising - advertising via social networks will allow you to target specific demographics, and to offer them the holiday products you think will most interest them. Make sure that your ad copy and the landing pages that they lead to are well-written and compelling.
  • Write niche social posts. There’s plenty of bland, generic holiday travel copywriting out there. Make sure that your social output is interesting and original by focusing on some particular aspects and activities, such as ‘Five scuba diving hotspots you’ve never heard of’, or ‘Great hikes in the Fjords’. Check how many impressions and engagements you get to gauge the success of your social posts.
  • Page quality - have attractive ‘pages’ on Facebook and other social networks. In addition to providing you with an additional online presence, when your satisfied customers ‘like’ your page, this will show up on their friends news feeds, bringing you additional brand exposure.
  1. Immersive experiences

The average tourist no longer wants to feel like a tourist. As we move deeper into the 21st century, virtually everybody has already seen every picture of every famous landmark everywhere. People are no longer wowed by the big, grand attractions that characterised 20th-century travel. They’re looking for more authentic, immersive experiences. Experiences that are off the beaten track, way-off track for some thrill seekers, memorable and instantly shareable with folks back home.

By catering for this aspect of consumer behaviour from the very beginning, you should be able to improve your conversions and brand engagement significantly. Create travel copywriting and visual content that immerses them in the local culture, and provides useful, valuable information that will help them to under the skin of their destination.

While some travel brands may well send their reps to visit destinations and report back from the ground, this can be highly costly. On the other hand, by commissioning a travel copywriting agency, for example, with writing local and authentic travel guides you can get in-depth, well-researched insight into many different destinations. And because of the wealth of information available online, this can be just as authentic at a fraction of the price.

  1. Travel is mobile

One of the biggest ongoing shifts in the online travel industry relates to the type of device that people are using to both research their travel plans and book their tickets and accommodation. According to TrekkSoft, 48% of US travellers are happy to research, plan and book an entire trip to a new destination on their mobile.

What this means is that if you’re not specifically catering for people booking travel via smartphones and tablets, you’re risking losing bookings from half your target demographic. The risk will only increase if you don’t deal with it now. So what can you do to capitalise on the mobile travel booking trend?

Have a mobile-friendly web design

Your website needs to look and feel as good on mobile as on desktop. With mobile booking set to surpass desktop even further in the coming years, it makes sense to design for mobile first.
Responsive web design is a favoured choice by many travel firms. Here, the layout automatically adjusts to the device and screen size. The other option is to build a site specifically optimised for mobile. Whichever route you choose, your travel content marketing needs to keep pace with the technology by being mobile friendly. i.e., it should be:

  • Relatively short with short paragraphs
  • Well-organised and broken up with sub-headers
  • Made easy for scan-reading through use of bulleted lists and relevant hyperlinks

Simplify bookings

If you haven’t already, you should extensively test your check-out page on a variety of mobile devices. Once again the content that accompanies your mobile booking form should be short and to the point.

You should also consider implementing a ‘one touch payment solution’ to make booking fast and easy.

  1. Voice search

Voice search is one of the biggest travel technology trends and its opening up the bookings market to businesses that provide conversational content and instant answers for travellers on the go, 24/7.

Millions of people already use digital assistants in the home. And as more web searches move from the desktop to mobile, Alexa, Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant are becoming their virtual travel reps. Customers can ask exactly what they want, rather than typing, filtering, switching between sites etc.

There is a big opportunity here for travel brands that optimise content to answer the search intent for travellers who know what they are looking for and inspire those that don’t.

How many people are using voice search?

Voice search is growing. And it’s growing fast.

  • 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020 (Comscore)
  • One-third of UK travellers already use voice search tools for trip inspiration (Travelport)

How to optimise your travel content for voice search

There are steps you can take to optimise your content to help you reach your target customers.

Answer the search intent – people using a voice assistant tend to ask one long question that requires a straightforward answer. Think about your FAQs and how these can be answered in a natural way. Use a social media monitoring tool to track conversations on forums etc. Ask your customer care team. This is all good practice for FAQ pages too (if you haven’t got one already this is something you’ll need to add).

Use a conversational tone – web page content and blog posts that sound more like a conversation between two people than a textbook will be appreciated by Google and its voice searchers.

Make it scannable - use clear and simple language and keep your sentences and paragraphs short

Long-tail keywords and phrases – people using voice search will be asking a specific question and because the search is intentional then long-tail keywords, which are usually three words or more, will better match specific phrases.

Map the customer journey – think about how to make your content relevant and useful for all stages of the customer journey - literally. Travellers use voice search to plan a trip and obviously they’ll use voice search assistants when they arrive to find nearby restaurants and things to do etc.

  1. Moment marketing

Be there with valuable content in the moments that matter. Travellers with smartphones in their back pockets will be looking for immediate answers to a question that’s loaded with intent.

Think With Google categorises these moments into four groups:

  • ‘I want to get away moments’ – people are dreaming of escape
  • ‘Time to make a plan moments’ – planning moments when the destination is chosen and it’s time to get everything organised for the trip
  • ‘Let’s book it moments’ – people are ready to book tickets and rooms
  • ‘Can’t wait to explore moments’ – people are ready to live the trip they dreamt about

Google’s research on this found that 73% of travellers are brand agnostic when it comes to finding the relevant information they need. The need is more important than brand loyalty.

  1. Video marketing

As part of your online travel marketing strategy, you should also strongly consider investing in visual influencers such as video. According to MDG Advertising, trip planners engage across all formats: 24% watch videos, 30% look at social media and 49% say they look at travel content sites. This suggests that brands may wish to create short, compelling and relevant videos for their websites or social media.

Before people view your videos, they want to know what they are about specifically. Be sure to include accurate textual descriptions which will draw them in to click the play button.

  1. Eco-travel

Let’s get back to the Travel Technology Europe survey on this. Eco-travel also came out as a top priority for content marketers this year. Travellers are increasingly taking personal responsibility to reduce the environmental and social impact of their adventures.

Forbes reports two trends to watch year: an increased interest in under-sold cities and destinations to combat the negative impact of over tourism and more eco-friendly ways to travel. If you’re lost for inspiration on what you can write, use a free tool like BuzzSumo for topic ideas.

To recap

To get the best results you need to be able to adapt your content marketing strategy to meet the latest trends. These trends like hyper-personalisation, immersive experiences, mobile migration and voice search are here for the long-haul. So strap yourself in.

Create inspirational, tailored that answers specific search intent. Be there in the moment.

Find topics that make you stand out from the crowd. You can do this in a number of ways. For example:

Set up Google Alerts – By telling Google to keep you informed about content on the web related to your travel offerings, you can stay up to date with what’s current.

BuzzSumo will enable you to see what type of travel-related content is currently performing well online, via the number of shares and backlinks it’s getting.

Use a brand monitoring tool – listen to what your customers are saying and crowdsource content ideas

Once you’ve identified what’s trending, you can then create travel content which responds to this. This brings traffic and builds an image of your travel brand as being at the forefront of the sector.

Success in travel content marketing = Monitor. Understand. Create

Here we’ve given you plenty of food for thought regarding the latest trends in digital marketing for the travel sector.

It’s important though to see these trends not as individual factors, but as small parts of an overall picture. If you can focus on creating content which is mobile, personal, social, authentic and timely, you stand to reap the benefits.

What next?

How are these trends impacting your content strategy? What steps are you taking to keep ahead of the curve? Let us know in the Comments section below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2016 but has since been completely updated so it stays relevant, accurate and valuable to our readers.

Want to talk about making content marketing work for your travel brand? Give us a call on 01803 865025 or drop us a line.


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