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Content Marketing Started On The Road And Has Reached The Information Superhighway
If you want to find an example of consistency in branding, you’ll need to consult a Michelin Guide. The booklets were first published in 1900, a time when France had fewer than 3,000 cars. Optimistically, the Michelin brothers gave away 35,000 copies as a way of boosting car sales, and of course, tire sales. In 1931, the guide underwent a major change: the cover was changed from blue to red. It has remained red ever since, an unchanging veteran of content marketing in travel.
Other parts of the travel industry have shown more dynamism. Airlines, for example, have long provided customers not just with in-flight entertainment, but with their own in-flight entertainment in the form of travel magazines. The aim has been to win the attention of a captive audience and earn gratitude by providing information about locations… as well as earning advertising revenue and duty-free sales.
But in an era when so much content is consumed digitally, and passengers have so many other forms of content competing for their attention, that travel content has had to up its game. KLM is one company that has shown how travel firms in general and airlines in particular are responding.
The company’s iFly Magazine isn’t only available in seat pockets to paying passengers. It also aims to reach customers before they fly and when they’re deciding which airlines to book. According to Contently, the magazine is mainly distributed by email to people who have opted in to receive it. The content itself is far more sophisticated than the simple travel stories usually found—and ignored—in airplane seats.
Each issue, which takes three months to produce, contains around a dozen multimedia stories presented on a single-page digital spread. It’s filled with visual images and videos for easy consumption, and is published eight times a year in three different languages.
The effectiveness of the content is measured by purchases but also by engagement. Unlike traditional print magazines, KLM can track shares and, most importantly, use that information to update its customer profiles, sharpen its content and improve the offers it makes in its email marketing.
Other travel companies are following a similar strategy. Marriott, a travel company that’s also nearly a century old, now has its own in-house content studio that works with social media influencers to spread content on platforms including Instagram and Snapchat. Its Two Bellmen movie, released last year, is less an advert than an 18-minute short film that combines storytelling, action, comedy and choreographed parkour. Shot at the Marriott in LA, the film has been watched more than five million times on YouTube.
It’s a new kind of content marketing and a long way from changing the color of the cover of a food and travel guide. But it’s the kind of complex content marketing the travel industry needs in a competitive, digital environment.