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What Makes Content Marketing In The Travel Industry Different?
In 2009, Ben Southall beat 35,000 applicants to win what the press had called the “world’s best job.” For the next six months, he would be paid A$150,000 (about $114,000) to take care of an Australian tropical island in the Great Barrier Reef. During a grueling interview, he had had to show his ability to snorkel, dive and swim.
But splashing about in the water wouldn’t be all Southall would be doing. When he wasn’t exploring the World Heritage Site, relaxing in the island’s three-bedroom luxury villa with his girlfriend or exploring the golden sands in a beach buggy, Southall would also be writing blog posts, uploading videos to YouTube and telling the world about the destination. The “job” was part of A$1.7 million campaign by Queensland Tourism and had already generated around A$100 million in free publicity. For the next half-year, it would generate even more as Southall produced and published content about the island.
Many industries struggle to turn content that people should consume into content that people want to consume. They have to find ways to make information about pensions and insurance policies interesting and engaging. They need to present health advice without sounding patronizing, punishing or hectoring.
For marketers in the travel industry, life is at least a little easier. They’re fortunate to have a topic that is naturally attractive, interesting and aspirational. They get to show pictures of tropical islands and lively cities. They can offer escapist content to people keen to escape, if only for a few moments. Their challenge isn’t to pull people in but to stand out, be memorable and make their destination or service the one a potential customer chooses first.
But that is a real challenge. The travel industry is highly competitive. Customers can buy their tickets from any number of sources and book an entire world of destinations. For travel brands a content marketing strategy isn’t a choice; it’s an essential aspect of their marketing that has to be relevant if it’s to successfully build relationships.
That combination of raw material and tight competition has given businesses in the travel industry the need and the freedom to experiment with form and engagement, creating imaginative content that is inspiring content marketers in every industry.
In this series of blog posts we’re going to explore how the travel industry is making the most of its advantages. We’ll show that content marketing for travel firms is almost as old as advertising and has retained many of the formats that have worked for decades: delivering smart, usable content as a way to win the trust and gratitude of customers.
We’ll look at how the travel industry has applied a creative solution to one of its biggest challenges by personalizing inanimate places. Giving destinations local voices, complete with local quirks and mannerisms, has made engagement easier and closer while also providing distinctiveness and originality. It’s a strategy that can be adapted by other industries.
And we’ll also look at the other imaginative ways in which the travel industry has produced content in a range of different forms, telling stories, creating desire and leading audiences to their locations.
Ben Southall might have landed the best job in the world, but for content marketers the travel industry may well be the best industry in the world to promote. In the next three blog posts, we’ll look at what the industry is doing and what it means for other industries.
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