Bronwyn White, co-founder of MyTravelResearch.com, a tourism research and marketing consultancy, says tourism marketers should resolve to adopt five marketing practices if they want to achieve digital breakthrough in 2015.
Mobile digital technology and apps have led to a crowd-sourced democratisation of the web where ordinary people become tourism industry suppliers. We’ve seen this in sites such as AirBnB, BeMyGuest, Uber, EatWith, and Bookalocal.
In 2014 we saw a sharp rise of peer-to-peer dining and accommodation sites, also poshtels and smartwatches that act as boarding passes. Innovation, technology, social and mobile will continue to transform the travel industry in 2015.
With so many IT and social innovations, most travel industry suppliers lag behind Gen X and Y traveller demands and information expectations. It can be daunting. But small steps in the right direction bring big results.
So, to navigate your way through the fast evolving and turbulent world of tourism marketing, marketers should make the following five resolutions for 2015:
1. Live by the rule that content is king
We have been saying this for a while now. But it is more important than ever as search engines become more sophisticated. Their algorithms love content-rich sites and use them to match travellers to pages. The principles of semantic search mean that without content, it is unlikely your web pages will be found. You need to have a balanced combination of words, images and video to both capture your customer’s imagination and be found by modern search engine algorithms.
2. Fully embrace social media
The importance of social media has multiplied over the last few months. Search engines now use your social media activity to gauge the relevance and authority of your website. The more your content is engaged and interacted with, the more likely the search engines will take the cue that you have something that viewers want. Social signals alert search engines that you have a reliable reputation and have something interesting to share.
3. Dial down overt promotions
Facebook recently conducted a user survey that helped them redefine their promotional posts strategy. According to the survey, there are some consistent traits that make organic posts feel too promotional:
– Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
– Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
– Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads
Facebook has been raking in our money from such posts. But as it may be affecting its membership, Facebook now says it’s going try to keep things a little more social. You should too. Dial down overt promotions. Replace it with content that helps customers imagine themselves being there or using your service.
4. Use video
Travel content has recently taken off in Youtube. Viewership of hotels, resorts and accommodation videos on YouTube increased 232% from 2012 to 2013. And according to a recent study that Google conducted, two out of three U.S. consumers watch online travel videos when they’re thinking about taking a trip.
Video is a great way to help your potential customers and visitors visualise themselves at your destination or place of business.
Don’t think that video needs to have high production costs and values. Videos created on your smartphone or a customer’s phone have a certain authenticity. And smartphone video recorders are getting better all the time. Video production and online hosting can done on virtually no budget, as long as you access to a good smartphone and a computer.
5. Mobile optimise your website
As a travel researcher, I still see it every day: travel industry sites are not being mobile optimised. And it is not just small operators, but multi-national hotel chains and airlines. Switch this around in 2015. Commit to mobile. According to Expedia‘s mobile monitor, 94% of individuals worldwide bring at least one mobile device with them when they travel. If you are not mobile, your potential customer will go for a competitor who is.
So lets get smart in the new year. Create beautiful content. Engage with your customers. Be authentic. Enjoy the results of being a mean marketing machine in 2015.
Bronwyn White is co-founder of MyTravelResearch.com.