Travel companies need better content

These holiday makers in Calvi (Corsica) have mostly googled before booking, because travel company websites don't offer them the right content.

These holiday makers in Calvi (Corsica) have mostly googled before booking, because travel company websites don’t offer them the right content.

Online users don’t trust travel companies to provide them with reliable information when it comes to researching their next holiday. This damning verdict was announced by UK’s travel industry body ABTA as part of its annual Consumer Survey. So why do UK consumers trust Google and Facebook more than their holiday provider? Because they don’t give their customers the content they want. It simply is a content marketing failure.

According to the survey only 15% of consumers look at travel companies websites for information or inspiration when researching for a holiday. At the top of the list is”general internet search”, ie. Google, with destination brochures and personal recommendation following closely. Interesting is also the discrepancy between age groups. Quite predictably, social media scores much higher with 16-24 year olds. Only travel company websites seem to be immune to the change in preferences by age. They are consistently avoided by the vast majority of consumers.


When it comes to looking online for information or inspiration travel websites feature at the bottom.

When it comes to looking online for information or inspiration travel company websites feature at the bottom. Most people trust Google and Facebook more.

The frightening bit is that travel companies can’t connect with their customers at the most critical point of the buying process: making a decision. Deciding where to go can be the most agonising experience when individuals, couples or families have to commit to what is probably their biggest expense of the year. “Content must fill the knowledge gap for families”, explains Joel Brandon-Bravo, MD of Travelzoo*. They seek reassurance that they are making the right decision.

Many travel companies fail to provide the answers their customers are so craving for. Travellers want to know exactly what the resorts looks like, whether the restaurants are family friendly or how hip the local bars really are. Because many don’t find the answers on travel company websites, they look elsewhere and this doesn’t go unnoticed: “We are very good at dragging people into their hundreds and thousands into our collective websites and then not converting them into sales”, admits John Straw from Thomas Cook Group*.

Looking around it seems like good content marketing practices are largely employed by providers of luxury travel. Some good examples are Mr and Mrs Smith, Abercrombie & Kent and hotel chains like Renaissance Hotels. All these sites are full of inspiring and useful content that helps in the decision-making process. Unfortunately, there are few good examples outside the luxury category.

So how can this be fixed? Here are our top 5 recommendations for planning a successful content strategy:

1. Be useful and impartial
Yes, customers would like information about the hotel, but they also want up-to-date information about the surroundings. This doesn’t always have to be a blog or article. Photos and videos are a great way of showing not only what the places look like, but also reveal the atmosphere. Always show the pros and cons. No place is perfect for everybody and your content is there to help the customers making the right decision.

1. Be human
Facts are good, but also think about the emotional appeal. Understand what mothers, fathers, couples are looking forward to in a holiday and appeal to those hopes and expectations.

2. Be up-to-date
Nothing is more disappointing than finding that content is out of date. Make sure your content campaign is sustainable and updated at least once a year. Bars close, new playgrounds open – and your customers need to know about it.

3. Be smart
It’s not only about the right content mix, but also using your resources efficiently. Travel companies have a lot of people on the ground that can help gather content. However, when it comes to implementation you should always use professionals. Smart doesn’t mean half-baked.

4. Be inspirational
A lot of people don’t exactly know what they want. They want to be inspired. There are great examples out there of websites that hit the nail. Travel companies could do worse than taking a few lessons from these people: Sidetour, Vayable, Peek, Tripbod.

5. Give them what they want
Above all travel companies have to start giving customers the content they love. This will build trust and loyalty – two ingredients that are badly needed in a market where customers tend to just hunt for the best deal. “Brand loyalty is at an all-time low”, says Joel Brandon-Bravo. The right content can help you fix it.

*Quotes are courtesy of Axonn Research

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