November 25, 2015
We’re all aware of the intricacies involved in bringing your booking conversion up a notch, and the huge amount of effort that goes into ensuring you have the best product, price, UX, technology and whatever competitor advantage you can lay hands on. Even a slight uplift can be hugely rewarding.
However, there is one charm offensive that’s currently being neglected in travel, that of curated location content. Evidence shows that web visitors spend hours researching local information and visit more than 20 different websites before booking a holiday, and that they seldom find what they are looking for on the site that takes their booking. It’s a customer pain point, and a business opportunity, begging to be solved.
This article looks at why local insight, especially combined with user generated content, is such a compelling source of competitive advantage and traveller delight.
In the travel industry, the battle for customers digital attention has never been so tough. It’s an offensive that takes place across search, social, content and marketing, and one that is routinely disrupted by the sheer volume of booking opportunities at users fingertips. Everyone seemingly has a travel offer nowadays.
Like any battle, travel providers from tour operators to hotels have to find innovative ways of gaining an edge. In a sector fraught with poor conversion and retention rates, this often risks becoming a charge to the finish on price.
There is another way
Consumer trends show us that it is high time we morphed the research-to-booking journey into one that trades on ‘value’ and ‘experience’ rather than price. With the right location content, it is possible to enhance the digital experience available to customers to the point that by evoking the real world experience at the destination, you remove any barriers to a decision and create a tangible and emotional desire to go.
Doing this at different points along your customer journey, and crucially when customers most need confidence in the location and what’s nearby, is a strategy set to win hearts as well as minds. Curated content on local attractions, events and leisure hotspots can be added to your website and marketing channels to promote the wealth of local experiences different customers can enjoy, and can be tailored to different parts of the journey thereafter. It has a versatile and repeatable shelf life.
Indeed, 73% of website visitors rely on user submitted images to make a decision and 77% of consumers find locally relevant reviews useful when making their booking. And as this infographic shows, it’s just this type of user generated content that people engage with most:
(infographic courtesy of Springmetrics – http://www.springmetrics.com/blog/)
The popularity of social media is nothing new. But what is new is the impact it’s having on the travel industry. It’s a trend (and an opportunity) most companies are only now beginning to grasp.
Here are five reasons why it’s vital to add localised user generated content to your marketing channels:
It’s not just reviews of your company people check before booking. Nearly three quarters will research the local attractions that surround you as well. After all, it’s the experience they’re really buying and looking forward to when going on holiday.
This is playing out in social media, with 42% of Facebook posts now travel-related and Instagram probably much more than that.
It’s clear that people have a massive interest in the experiences other travellers have had around your location. Making it vital to include local content as part of your offer.
Only a few travel companies have grasped the advantage that comes from curation, and fewer still when it comes to hyper-local content. Some may show a location map, but a pin on the spot does little to warm the cockles of a web visitor’s heart, or get the juices running for a dose of adventure or an escape into cultures unknown.
Curated location content works best when it combines your brand voice, complete with all the insights you can share, with the voice of the crowd. Add to this some real-time information on events, weather and opening times, and you create a sense not only of the possibilities but of the here and now.
And that’s something few other travel and hotel sites your customer has encountered will have done. Placing you top of mind, and best foot forwards when it comes to seo.
Today’s consumer is very savvy at getting the information they need without engaging with traditional marketing. In fact, nine out of ten people trust the opinions of friends and family above all forms of advertising.
It’s authenticity they crave. Manufactured content seems stale in comparison to the richness and vibrancy of shared experiences and truthful images.
Marketing departments have spent the last decade trying to infiltrate social media with ‘viral’ campaigns. Few have succeeded. In many cases, attempts to appear ‘authentic’ have been greeted with ridicule instead.
Thankfully, you don’t need to fake it to make it. People are actively creating content for you. All you need to do is collate, package and publish it.
In between games of Candy Crush Saga, up to 75% of millennials are uploading photos, posting status updates or sharing videos on social media every day while on holiday.
For this reason, your guests are already acting like your content creation machine. But taking advantage requires a change in mindset. You have to evolve from the idea that social media needs to be ‘monitored’, like a firefighting exercise, but instead engaged with and curated.
This doesn’t just mean responding to tweets and comments on your Facebook page. It means actively searching out localised user generated content, collecting the best examples and then sharing it through your marketing channels.
Thanks to the internet and sugar loaded diets, people have the attention spans of goldfish. They aren’t going to read the 50 page local guide you lovingly created for your website. They want to get instant answers. They already know what the main attractions are and they are tiredly familiar with cookie cutter descriptions.
One option is to wait patiently while they do all this research themselves, and hope they find their way back to your website when they’re ready.
Or you can provide this information on local attractions for them in easily digestible, memorable chunks. Consider how you can present it in a visually appealing and dynamic way that’s easy to navigate and makes their research journey a walk in the park, not a marathon.
Isn’t creating localised content creation expensive and slow?
The stats are clear, it’s localized, authentic content that people are actively looking for before booking their holidays. When you can provide it to them, you can naturally increase bookings as a result.
Thankfully, all the content you need is being created in vast quantities by visitors to your destinations, every single day. The challenge is knowing how to collate, package and publish it to your channels on an ongoing basis.
One option is to do this manually, either by hiring a new full time marketing assistant or outsourcing it to a content creation agency. Both options are indeed slow and expensive as curating high quality local content takes hours, if not days, to complete.
And remember that you’ll have to repeat the process on an ongoing basis.
Fiz Provides Local Content Curation on Autopilot
Fiz is a specialised local content curation service. With its proprietary algorithm, Fiz is able to identify relevant places at any location around the world and curate factual, specialist and crowd content from multiple pre-approved sources in minutes and then publish it onto your websites and apps via a code snippet or data feed. This includes reviews, photos, images, events, tips and other types of authentic content people are actively looking for on local attractions, points of interest and leisure hotspots.
The entire process can be handled on autopilot, saving you time and money, and responding to set of rules for what you want to publish. For the more hands on, the fiz platform allows access to all the content to add, edit or find and create more places.
Fiz free trial
For a limited time, Fiz is offering a free trial so you can see first hand the impact hyper-local content can have on engagement with your website and bookings. See here for more details: www.fiz.com/request-a-demo/