Content Marketing Ideas For Independent Travel Agents
by Joshua Harrell, CMO Travel Quest Network/WorldVia Travel Group @joshuaharrell
Content Marketing Ideas For Independent Travel Agents
One of the best ways for independent travel agents to reach a wider audience and connect with existing customers is to have a well-planned content marketing strategy. Content is important for every industry, but it can be especially powerful for customers who love to travel. People want to learn as much as possible about destinations and attractions before making decisions. When you supply targeted content to these customers, you can turn yourself into a valuable source of information. Here are some practical and effective content marketing guidelines for independent travel agents.
Create Destination Guides
Destination guides that highlight the attractions of a city, country, or region can give your followers and customers wanderlust and may help them decide to book a trip. These guides can be in the form of reports or short e-books, depending on how detailed you want to get. For popular destinations, you may want to focus on a certain specialty to differentiate yourself from the competition. For example, there are thousands of guides to Paris but not as many highlighting bicycle, literary, or culinary tours.
Publish Articles in Print Publications
Your content marketing strategy needn't be confined to digital marketing. There are many opportunities to reach readers of print media, of which there are still many. This approach works well if you're promoting your own region and are familiar with local attractions, businesses, and events. You might, for example, write an article about an upcoming festival, local restaurants, or an interesting neighborhood. Consider submitting to local newspapers, free weekly magazines, as well as local and regional travel magazines. Of course, many print magazines also have digital versions so you can get the best of both worlds, getting published both online and in print.
Create a Travel Podcast
Podcasting is getting more popular all the time. With podcasts, you can reach listeners who tune in while commuting, exercising, or doing chores around the house. You can discuss destinations and activities and perhaps interview local experts. Starting a podcast today is easier than ever. In addition to presenting your own ideas and experience, you can interview locals in different parts of the world who can share their knowledge of local history, food, animals, outdoor activities, and other specialties. A podcast also gives you a channel from where you can send traffic to your website.
Post Facebook and Instagram Stories
Stories have really taken off on both Facebook and Instagram over the last few years. Stories let you create ephemeral content that's only visible for a day. Short-lived content has a certain urgency that makes it appealing. Stories also have more visibility than ordinary timeline posts, giving you a chance to engage with more followers. For travel content, be sure to emphasize memorable images. To get the most leverage out of your Stories, use them with business pages than personal pages. On Facebook, engaging Stories will help drive traffic to your business page.
Cover Timely News and Events
Whether you're creating blog posts, videos, podcasts, or social media content, it's good to offer a mixture of timely and evergreen material. With every destination, there are certain enduring attractions. However, by covering the latest news, trends, and concerns, you can provide a valuable service to travelers.
- Upcoming festivals and celebrations including holiday events, film and music festivals, carnivals, etc.
- Microtrends impacting a certain city or neighborhood such as a type of food, music scene, or shopping.
- Concerns about natural disasters, crime, or political instability in a region. While this may be considered "negative," people do pay attention to the news and want to make sure it's safe to visit a place before booking a trip. Very often, you can put potential travelers at ease by providing accurate information.
- The latest transportation deals. Airfares and other transportation fares are constantly fluctuating, and people always want to know where and how to find the best prices.
Partner With Influencers
Popular bloggers, vloggers, and social media influencers can help you get more attention to your travel-related content. If someone isn't a direct competitor, it's beneficial to connect and look for ways to partner. An influencer doesn't necessarily have to be someone in the travel industry. He or she can also be someone who's a local celebrity (e.g., actor, musician, chef, artist) in an area where you book trips or someone who's written a book about the area.
- Connect with travel bloggers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- Conduct interviews for your blog, video channel, or podcast.
- Arrange shoutouts. For example, have an influencer take over your Instagram or YouTube channel for a day. Just be sure to choose influencers who are a good match for your brand as they will be representing your business with everything they say.
Make the Most of Email Marketing
If you don't have an email list, you're overlooking one of the most effective ways to engage with your customers and potential customers. If you already have a list, you may want to take steps to make it larger and more responsive.
- Have an opt-in form on your website and Facebook page.
- Send out a newsletter on a regular schedule.
- Include links to your blog posts, videos, and other content in your emails.
- Offer special coupons and discounts to your subscribers.
Publish User-Generated Content
Getting your followers, subscribers, and customers to contribute content is a win-win for you and the public. People love to take photos and videos when they travel. Why not encourage them to post some of these on your pages? It's often more interesting to look at images taken by everyday travelers rather than the more familiar generic photos of familiar attractions. Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are all great for sharing user-generated content. You can also use it on your website. Holding contests for the best photographs or videos is always a way to motivate people to participate.
Aside from visual content, you can invite users to post their opinions and reviews of hotels, restaurants, and attractions. The only caveat to keep in mind with user-generated content is that you need to spend a little time moderating it. While most users will contribute great material, you don't want to unknowingly publish something offensive or slanderous.
The Right Content Helps You Connect With Your Audience
Your customers are hungry for the latest and most relevant news about the destinations that fascinate them. The more you can deliver targeted content to your audience, the more they'll look to you for guidance. As information is everywhere now, it's essential to focus on a niche and present a unique perspective. As an independent travel agent, you have the advantage of being able to customize and personalize content to your chosen audience.