Members of the Pace strategy and creative content teams presented the Travel Lab at Content Marketing World. The six-hour intensive session covered how to make an enduring emotional connection between your brand and your target audience, practical examples of tailoring and repurposing content for different audiences, and a collection of channels and tactics that can be used to engage consumers along the travel customer journey.
The seasoned travel marketing team included Juliette Reynolds, Darren Frei and Katie Riddle, representing digital strategy, content direction and content strategy, respectively.
Lab participants were from all sectors of travel, including destination-marketing organizations, cruise lines, hospitality groups and agencies, and software companies serving the industry. The audience’s level of expertise ranged from coordinator to VP, with representation from creative content production to social media to digital marketing.
Conversation was lively, with questions around content scale, volume, costs and makeup, and ranged from the philosophical to the practical. The group seemed to enjoy the camaraderie of a shared mission (helping people go on vacation—how awesome is that?) and challenges (increased competition and commoditization) and helped each other through some of the attendees’ most pressing challenges.
Individual modules were presented to allow attendees to build a campaign or program using the following presentations:
Accelerating the Emotional Connection
In any relationship, building an emotional connection is key. Brands are no different. In this presentation, we discuss why emotion is so important, who’s cultivating those connections in interesting ways and finally, how to take your brand from “meh” to true love with your consumers. This presentation focuses on the travel/hospitality/tourism sector but is applicable across industries.
- Use authentic, storytelling content to form and maintain relationships
- Turn problems into wins
- Find moments to surprise and delight
- Focus on your area of expertise
- Leverage your audience to strengthen your story
Developing Customer-Centric Strategies
Maintaining an emotional connection with your audience requires a sustainable, smart and flexible content program. In this presentation, we discuss how to put the customer at the center of your content marketing strategy. How do you get close to your audience when you lack a perfect system? We explore a case study about a multichannel content program created for AAA, revealing a few creative and efficient ways to develop and distribute high-quality content.
- Think of your content as an extended conversation
- Deliver content to a limited set of audience segments to start; learn and expand
- Develop a mix of created, edited and curated materials
- Create once, publish everywhere
- Consider internal company channels to amplify reach (i.e. content created to help AAA travel agents keep the conversation going)
Engaging, Entertaining and Retaining Your Travel Audience
Content marketers have roughly the same goals when it comes to creating and distributing content along the travel customer journey: Make consumers aware of their offerings, move them from consideration to booking, serve them well en route and in the destination, and continue the conversation after travelers return home to encourage a second visit, stay or journey.
This session focused on engaging an audience with different types of content suited to varying stages of the travel customer journey. We brought to life some of the current best-in-class content marketing and distribution examples from across the travel spectrum, including destination-marketing organizations, airlines, hospitality companies and new, disruptive entrants into the marketplace.
- Discover your audience and build a customer journey
- Focus on content that provides inspiration or information according to journey stages
- Find contributors everywhere—partnerships, community, professionals, staff
- Use channels independently and together to get your content out there
- Start small, measure success, and test and learn
Keeping Disruptions & Challenges from Rocking Your World
The Travel/Hospitality/Tourism industry has experienced massive changes over the last couple of decades due to the advent of modern technology, the commoditization of travel and the impact of the sharing economy.
Session four brought forward disruptors and innovators in the industry, fostering discussion around techniques that destinations, hoteliers and cruise lines can use to shore up their positions with storytelling practices and distribution strategies to fend off newcomers from the sharing economy; they include home-away-from-home service AirBnB and local tour guide service Headout.
This session also featured examples of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”—ideas for integrating first-mover technology into existing online platforms and programs, like Wayblazer, as a way to sort out the myriad ideas about things to do in a destination using natural language search.
- Disruption is the new normal in travel
- Opportunities lie in relevance and personalization
- Change will be lead by consumer behavior and preferences
- Turn challenges into opportunities to stand out from the crowd
- Be awesomely omnichannel (okay, if not that, then at least be awesome on mobile)
- Find your niche and merchandize it!
Don’t see your challenges represented here? What specific questions do you have around your own travel content marketing challenges? Let us know in the comments below!
By Juliette Reynolds