Written By: Cris De Souza, Vice President, Sales & Marketing – Nexion Travel Group
Launching a successful marketing campaign is the goal of any independent travel professional who wants to grow the business and build a solid customer base. Without effective marketing, there are zero chances of acquiring the right customers and creating long-term, sustainable success for your travel business. Because most independent travel agencies don’t enjoy the luxuries and marketing budgets of big, more established online travel agencies (OTAs), you may find it more difficult to make your marketing campaigns pay off. It’s also possible that you don’t have the needed experience and knowledge to strategize and execute your marketing efforts.
The good thing is, the challenges independent travel agencies may face can be overcome with a bit of planning and strategizing in the right direction. While there are many marketing methods your travel agency can experiment with, content marketing for independent agencies is one method that is cost-effective AND highly results-oriented. With this proven method, you can launch a content marketing campaign and expect growth with a minimal investment.
As a travel agency owner, content marketing can help you:
- Establish and maintain a successful brand identity that your current customers and target audience connects with
- Gain competitive advantage over other travel agencies in your travel specialty not using content marketing
- Create a long-term, trustworthy relationship with customers and prospects
- Position yourself as a travel specialty/destination expert or thought leader in the minds of customers and prospects
- Consistently generate more website traffic and better exposure to your travel agency and unique value proposition without a huge investment
- Convert more website visitors into leads and sales
- Achieve higher public relations/online media visibility and a better return on financial and time investment
What is a Content Marketing Strategy and Why You Should Have One as an Independent Travel Agency Owner?
Content marketing, as defined by the Content Marketing Institute, “is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
Content marketing for independent travel agencies gets less tricky when you have a strategy that embodies your overall vision and gives you the needed clarity on how to execute your campaign — right from how you will go about creating content to publishing it to promoting it.
When it comes to content marketing for independent travel companies, the benefits of having a strong strategy are many. Let’s look into a few of them:
Your content marketing efforts will give better results if you know what types of content to create and ensure it matches with the expectations of your target audience. Having a firm content strategy helps you do just that.
Because content marketing requires an investment of your time and/or money, you must ensure you’re doing it right. Your content strategy lets you plan your content and make it stand out from competitive travel agencies in your travel niche or specialty.
A solid content marketing strategy gives you a bird’s view of your business goals and a better understanding of what your audience wants. This way you won’t be aiming in the dark with any of your marketing efforts.
According to Hubspot, only 37 percent of small businesses claim to have a content marketing strategy in place. This means by creating and executing a content marketing strategy, you can potentially gain a competitive edge over other agencies in your travel specialty or niche.
Building strong relationships is the goal of any travel business that wants to flourish, and starting great relationships begins with being helpful to your target audience. By creating content that your community can connect with, your brand becomes more relatable.
For example, if you’re a travel agency that specializes in the solo-parent travel market, a solid content strategy that can help this target audience or community travel with more “grace and ease” would be an essential building block. A component of that strategy could be publishing “time-tested, single-parent travel tips” or “how to avoid the biggest mistakes for your children as a solo-parent traveler.” These are two examples of relevant content that are helpful to this target audience/community.
The level of relationship that you share with your audience depends on how consistently you are able to provide useful content to them. Being there for your community when they need you and answering their questions on a consistent basis helps your brand create a halo of trust that your followers can rely on. This in turn benefits your business, because your target audience begins to trust your brand.
Being an independent agency owner, you probably know that people are comfortable booking their vacation from people they trust. Your content becomes a bridge between your brand, your business and your audience; in the process your sales numbers improve!
How Content Marketing Works for You as an Independent Travel Agency Owner:
So when you are creating content, you should create it because it is necessary for solving a problem. It has to be needed by your target audience and actually be helpful.
One of the ways to make content marketing easier is to align yourself with a travel consortia (travel marketing company) and/or a host travel agency (booking agency, back-office solution provider, marketing & demand generation provider). Partnering with a consortia and/or host travel agency can help supercharge your content marketing strategy in many ways, as they do quite a bit of the heavy lifting for you.
Nexion® Travel Group’s quarterly consumer Escape travel theme campaigns are great examples of relevant and meaningful omni-channel turn-key content marketing. The recent Luxury Travel edition of the Escape content marketing campaign includes:
- Personalized (for client and agency) printed Escape consumer magazine targeted at the Luxury Travel target audience (hand-picked Cohortz audience clusters) including curated articles designed to inspire and help luxury travelers plan their next vacation experience (also provided in a digital version)
- Personalized (for client and agency) consumer emails with links to blogs and relevant travel offers related to helping the target audience’s vacation planning needs
- Curated social media posts pushed out to agent’s Facebook business pages and twitter accounts with links to relevant content tied to the campaign and the needs of the target audience
- Web Banners and blogs automatically published to the agent’s consumer facing website designed to inspire and help the target audience plan their next vacation experience
In summary, a well-defined content marketing strategy provides your travel agency with numerous benefits, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to dip your toes in the content marketing waters for the first time! To be successful, you need to define and understand your target audience or community, what their pain points are/what are their needs and position yourself as someone who consistently helps them solve their problem(s).
Part Two of Content is King will dive deeper into the buyer’s journey, the path to purchase (also known as the conversion funnel) and help you understand what content works best at each stage of the journey. We’ll also share the five essential steps that you need to follow to create an independent travel agency content marketing strategy that’s guaranteed to work every time; stay tuned!