Long gone are the days of the 70s/80s/90s when you’d book a holiday after seeing a TV advert, reading a brochure and visiting the travel agent.
The development of the internet and online bookings changed everything and it continues to evolve at pace. Consumers now have a vast number of sources to scour over when researching travel. Not just a few glossy brochures, a study conducted by Expedia Media Solutions found that on average someone will visit 38 websites before booking.
Not only are these consumers checking prices, they’re researching, looking for as much authentic content as they can get their hands on. Consumers want to get a feel for the experience that they are purchasing and glossy press release images and stock photography no longer cut it. Consumers could be looking for reviews on Google, finding blog posts, checking TripAdvisor reviews, comparing prices, checking maps There’s a whole lot of online research going on before people book, gone are the days of reading a brochure or going off word of mouth.
According to a report by Stackla, 86% of consumers said authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support.
So what are you to do to ensure you’re influencing today’s path to purchase if you’re a tour company, hotel or travel brand in today’s online space? The answer is to create authentic content, but who’s best placed to produce it?
Create it yourself
No one is better placed than yourself to tell your own brands story. Get behind the scenes of your business, highlight those features that set your brand apart from the competition. Maybe you’ve got some unusual accommodation, a super special meal or even a tour guide with a personality that shines through. They are all features worth highlighting (via social media or blog content) so that consumers who are researching their next travel purchase have the opportunity to see what your brand has to offer.
Stackla’s Consumer Content Report also points out that 85% of people share their positive travel experiences on social media. That represents a big opportunity for brands to encourage their happy customers to post content to social media that can be highlighted by the brand on their own social media accounts. Re-sharing and highlighting the best images your customers have posted to Instagram or on your brands own hashtag is a tactic used by many established brands. Take a look at GoPro for example, they use a mixture of content from customers (user generated content) who post to the #gopro hashtag as well as influencers and pro-athletes that they work with. The interesting thing about GoPro along with other hugely successful brands like Red Bull is that they sell the experience rather than product. Take a look at GoPro Instagram accounts and notice how the majority of the content is showing the experiences and adventure that customers and advocates are having with a GoPro without actually featuring the product in the shot.
Work with influencers
The downside of user generated content is you can’t really control the quality of the content and the format. If you’re looking for high quality content with engagement and reach then your best option would be to work with digital content creators who have established audiences. There are many highly professional and skilled content creators out there that have influence, but finding the right ones that fit with your brand can be a challenge. It takes time to research those people who are creating content in your niche as well identifying those who have the same values and style as your brand.
You’ll benefit from the authentic content created by influencers, their reach and engagement across their social channels… providing you identify those that are a good fit for your brand. Brands should also ensure that influencers fit into your overall marketing plan, objectives or the campaign that they are running. Too many brands expect that simply by working with influencers to create content it will produce results, without realising that they need to be part of a wider strategy.
Pick a platform
If you’re starting out with limited resources for your social media content then it’s wise to concentrate on making a success of one particular channel before signing up for them all. Instagram is a decent choice right now because of the ease of posting content, the audience it reaches and the ability to post authentic content via Instagram Stories. With tools such as Instagram Stories giving users the ability to create stories with the use of videos and images created on a mobile phone there really isn’t any excuse why a brand can’t be producing authentic content around their brand.
The landscape for booking travel has drastically changed since the offline days, consumers are researching and looking to see authentic content relating to a purchase before they commit. Brands increasingly need to curate their own authentic content online in order to demonstrate what’s so unique about their offering, why they are different to the competition, and to ensure consumers have enough information before they make the decision to purchase.