If you’ve spent any amount of time scrolling through Instagram and other social media platforms, you’ve probably noticed just how much content is available about active and luxury travel. There are over 280 million posts on Instagram alone using the hashtag #travel. This highlights the popularity of travel and the importance of developing an effective marketing strategy for luxury adventure travel companies and tour operators.
How do you break through the sheer quantity of travel-related content that is available online to engage your audience and gain new clients?
High-quality visual content and an excellent social media presence are essential to marketing in the active travel industry. Social media and online content can now influence traveller’s decisions about their next holidays as much as, or even more than, traditional advertising. That means tour operators and travel companies must offer an online experience with high-quality content, carefully composed images and thoughtful visual storytelling.
Websites Must Do More
More people than ever plan their entire holiday through online channels instead of exclusively using travel agents. Even if travellers eventually book parts of their trip through an agent, they can come to the conversation with a very detailed idea of what they’re looking for. Agents themselves will often spend time online to vet their potential suppliers to make sure they know as much as possible. As a consequence, travel companies cannot get away with budget websites that simply communicate basic information and/or that lack imagination. They must incorporate visual storytelling into their marketing and create high-quality web content that inspires and reassures travellers. Put simply, travellers need to easily be able to picture themselves on holiday, and in your hands.
In the digital era, luxury travel first begins online where websites inspire FOMO (fear of missing out). Travellers are looking for photos, videos, and stories that draw them in and cause them to dream about the Instagram posts they’ll create if they book their holiday with you.
More than ever before, the photos and videos on your website define your brand. You must know your target audience well enough to offer images that appeal to their desires. It might require some testing and market research, but this is a worthwhile investment for everyone in the travel industry. As a good rule of thumb choose images that highlight the place or the activity, rather than the actual people participating. As an example, one client came to us with lots of photos of happy guests, looking straight at the camera with wine glasses raised, etc. That’s great for social media, but it’s not ideal for a website. On the other hand, generic stock images of models pretending to enjoy an outdoor activity are equally useless if you intend to inspire. When in doubt, hire a photographer. It might be one of the best investments you can make.
Be Mobile Friendly
Smartphones are changing the travel industry. From the moment someone decides, “I want to get away,” they use their smartphones and other mobile devices to search for travel ideas and book their next holiday. Optimising your website and marketing content for mobile is essential.
Ninety-four percent of holiday travellers switch between their computer, phone, and other electronic devices as they plan their trip and they are increasingly booking tickets and making reservations on smartphones and tablets. Additionally, 85% of leisure travellers choose activities after they’ve arrived at their destination. Your website must be interactive and mobile-friendly. Your customers are likely to expect a seamless and easy booking experience across all their devices. right up to, and after, their departure for a holiday.
One Google study found that price, search functionality and ease of the booking process were critical factors in choosing an agent or operator. People simply expect mobile-friendly, single-screen booking experiences, and secure online payments. Instagram even introduced new “action buttons” on business profiles that allow people to “book,” “get tickets,” “reserve,” or “start order” within the Instagram app.
Offer Useful Content
A Nielsen research project found that travellers visited an average of 28 different websites to plan their holidays. Younger, affluent holiday-goers are looking for sites that serve as a trustworthy resource and guide throughout their holiday experience.
What kinds of content are travellers looking for? Blog posts about the weather patterns, packing tips for your location, tour write-ups, video blogs, social media posts, travel guides, infographics about the culture, Q&As, and other useful information.
Help get your clients excited about their upcoming holiday and answer their questions about the area in which you operate. Even if the content isn’t directly related to your product or service, useful information is vital to your online presence and marketing strategy.
Travellers report feeling more loyal toward travel companies that share information throughout their holiday that improves their experience. Providing valuable information also positions you as an expert on everything they might want to know about your area. For these reasons (and many more) travel companies must ensure their website is well optimised for mobile and offers helpful travel information instead of a list of the specific things you offer.
User-generated Content Is King
User-generated content (UGC) from your guests is an excellent source of organic and authentic web content. Potential customers don’t just trust your visual storytelling – they want to hear from satisfied customers about their holiday experiences.
UGC is becoming one of the most critical factors for people booking their next adventure. Studies show that 70% of people value recommendations from their peers over professionally created marketing campaigns. The actual experiences of other travellers who’ve loved their time with you are the most powerful, and efficient, drivers of new business.
Whether it’s a custom hashtag, a place for guests to share their Insta-worthy photos, guest reviews, or an online guestbook, active travel brands cannot ignore or overlook user-generated content in their online presence.
Value Over Discounts
Affluent travellers tend to value unique and authentic experiences and are willing to spend more than most customer segments. Millennials and Generation Z consumers also tend to value experiences over the perception of luxury. All of these groups are likely to view travel and adventure as an investment, rather than search for the lost cost provider. It’s essential that your marketing speak directly to their goals and expectations – at the expense of exclusively talking about yourself and your prices.
Today’s travel consumers value the overall experience, and often eschew both products that fail to inspire their imagination.
Instead of just promoting your unfilled capacity, or “brown bananas,” focus on content that communicates the overall value of the experience. Instead of advertising cheap rates or discounted packages, focus on why your services are an investment that will meet their desire for lifelong memories.
Conclusion: Quality Content Is Vital To Your Success
To thrive in the luxury and adventure tourism industry, you must rethink how you use content throughout your buyer’s journey. You aren’t just competing with other travel sites, you’re competing for attention in the social media realm where more than 2 billion photos are shared daily!
You simply cannot succeed in the travel industry without a great website and a constant supply of quality content that your clients need and want. This kind of content and online presence takes time and money.
There are no easy answers, quick fixes, or cheap shortcuts that actually work in the digital marketing world. That is why it’s important to develop an informed marketing strategy and stick to it, even when it gets challenging to wait for the results. Patience is a virtue, especially when waiting for your content strategy to begin turning a profit.
A well-conceived content strategy, delivered thoughtfully and consistently, is your sustainable path to growth.