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Clinch sales with reassuring content

December 20, 2013

(Published in TTG – 11.12.13)


There is still confusion among travel companies as to what content to provide on their websites, and how they should promote it, a new report by Axonn Research claims.

Many online travel agents are focusing too heavily on inspiration, and providing content written by bloggers that fails to match the needs of the visitor website, with just 3% of website visitors being converted into transactions.

“Initially, people want inspiration when considering destinations and not just a search box. But once they’ve formulated an idea of what they want, advice and reassurance are equally important,” says Joel Brandon-Bravo, UK managing director at Travelzoo.

As a result, travel companies must know exactly whom their content is produced for, and what those visitors expect to take away from it.

According to a survey by Tips for Travellers, in association with Travel Bloggers Unite, half of travellers spend less than two weeks abroad each year, and the majority wish to be “reassured” about their travel decisions as much as “inspired” to make new ones, the report states.

“But the latter serves as the be-all and end-all among content creators, who can too easily fall into the trap of writing for those as well versed in travelling as they are,” it adds.

The report’s survey of 474 professionals, including small hotel operators, airlines and destination marketing organisations, also found that just under two thirds (66%) aimed to target families – a market often seen as highly profitable as there are more passengers and families are generally restricted to travelling at dearer peak times.

The report urges companies to focus more on reassuring this sector – for example, showcasing content that promotes hotels with adjoining rooms, and activity programmes for children, or identifying day trips that appeal to old and young tourists alike.

It’s a tactic that Brandon-Bravo agrees with: “Content must fulfil the knowledge gap for families. They require reassurance that their needs can be met before embarking on what might be the largest outlay of the year for them.”

The survey also reveals OTAs are twice as likely to host content that targets the luxury traveller over budget travellers – recognising how the former sector promises the best returns on investment in content.

Media matters

The industry has, however, fully embraced the notion that content is key to boost traffic: 60% of companies published news or blogs on their website, with 84% actively representing themselves on social media websites.

Travel guides and information are deemed the best way to entice their audience, with 58% stating this is most likely to engage audiences. Blogs come in at 29%, with video 26%.

When it comes sharing content, Facebook reigns over other social networking sites, with more than a third (40%) of respondents using the platform to spread their message.

Blogs (28%) and emails (26%) follow Facebook, while flavours of the year Twitter and Pinterest lag behind, at 6% and 1% respectively.

Looking at the results, it appears that there is room for growth. Many firms seem cautious over the use of video – with over half (53%) who see value in using video not actually leveraging it. The same applies to blogs – 30% of those who see value in blogging do not produce, or commission, this type of content.

John Straw, chairman of the digital advisory board at Thomas Cook Group, adds. “We are very good at dragging people in their hundreds and thousands into our collective websites and then not converting them into sales.”

When planning your next marketing campaign, investing time in thinking about your message, and its format, could help you capture some of the 97% of visitors who aren’t choosing to book.

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