People travel mainly for one of two reasons; business or pleasure. I think we can all agree that the best trips require a bit, or a lot, of pre-planning. Increasingly, with the advent of the Internet, potential tourists are becoming their own travel agent. This means if your website is in the travel and tourism niche, you have a prime opportunity to use the power of content marketing to help people find your business. But first you must ask yourself, does your website provide plenty of information to help travelers make this pre-planning process quick and easy? Does your site provide answers to all the questions that travelers will potentially be searching for when making decisions on where to stay and what to do? Or will your site send them on their way to do more Google searches, or to Amazon to buy a travel guide from Frommer’s or Fodor’s? Basically, do you provide content that will make visitors feel comfortable enough to call your reservation desk to book a room or fill out the online form to schedule a tour?
Sure, there are people out there that are very spontaneous (whatever) and don’t worry about planning ahead. But the vast majority, especially those with children, need to know that all their basic needs can be taken care of while they are away from home so that they can concentrate on reducing stress and having fun. The business traveler will want to concentrate on presenting well at their meeting, not about where they can print out the agenda with those last minute changes that their boss sent over.
Assuming you have the necessities on your site such as: Hours of operation, directions to your facility from major airports or freeways, pricing, contact info (but don’t assume everyone will call you when the information is missing, it needs to be provided on your site), terms of service, etc.; here are some content development ideas for the different types of travelers that may be using your facilities or services:
Parking: Where is it? Is it free? Is a map needed? If it’s far how will luggage be handled and is there a shuttle? Is it safe and well lit? Okay to leave things in the car?
Eating and Drinking: Are there restaurants on site? Are they kid friendly? If so what is on the menu and what are the hours? Pricing? Where are the closest restaurants? Is a map needed? Is coffee provided? If not where is the closest place to get a cup? Where is the closest place to get bottled water? Are box lunches provided or available? Have you provided information for those on a special diet? Where is the closest ice cream shop (so good when the kids are hot and tired)? What about other special places to eat or drink that you would like to mention?
Supplies: Is there a sundries shop onsite for spur of the moment necessities (ugh, forgot to pack extra diapers and the sunscreen)? If not where is the closest shop (map? you get it)? If the weather turns cold, or your four year old threw their shoes out the window, where is the closest place to buy sweatshirts and some sneakers?
Activities: Let’s face it; kids get bored quickly. What is there to do near the hotel? What is there to do in winter, summer, spring and fall? What is there to do in June or July? Any free activities? Parks or playgrounds nearby? What about amusement or water parks?
Connectivity and Productivity: Is WiFi available in room and elsewhere? Is it free? Instructions for getting hooked up? Is there a Business Center to print documents, etc.? Are there on-the-fly meeting facilities available?
Eating and Drinking: Is there a nice restaurant nearby to treat clients? Where is the nearest bar?
Traveling with a Pet
Pet Friendly Rooms: Does the hotel allow pets? How much extra will it cost? Where do they take their walkies? Is it far and is the area well lit? Are bags provided?
Restaurants: Are there places to eat nearby that allow pets inside or on the patio? What about if they are in a stroller (oh yeah…)?
Special Needs: Where is the closest dog park? What are the hours? Is there a shop in the vicinity to purchase dog food or shampoo (how does he always find the mud)? Are there cool hikes or trails nearby that allow dogs?
Crowd Sourcing Ideas
In addition to the ideas above, you can poll various groups at your facility, or places close by, to see what questions visitors are asking. This is an excellent way to discover those bits of information that your site is missing, or that other sites are missing. It very well could be that if visitors are asking these questions onsite, they might have searched for them online before they left and didn’t find answers.
Encourage your staff to keep track of the inquiries they receive from visitors. Here are some prime people to poll:
- Front desk personnel
- Bell desk personnel
- Wait staff
- Concierge desk (obviously)
- Rental car desk, onsite or close by
- Local tour companies
Be sure to study your online reviews for ideas as well. These could prove to be a treasure trove of questions that are in need of answers.
Kinds of Content
In addition to all the questions to answer, do some online searches to see what opportunities are available. For instance, if your area is famous for strawberry production, instead of searching for restaurants near your facility, search for something like “best strawberry pie in Carlsbad, CA.” If there aren’t very many posts ranking for this search, then a prime content opportunity is knocking that will may naturally rank well since the competition is low and the demand is high. Get creative with these searches to see what SERP real estate is available. Be sure to do these searches when you aren’t logged in to avoid seeing only local data.
So, you have all these questions to answer, how do you go about doing that? You will want visitors to your site to find the answers quickly and easily. But, search engines love content too. They eat the stuff up!
First and foremost, your site should have an active blog. This is a tried and true way to push your content out in a timely manner. One to two posts a week is a good goal. Dedicate a post for each topic or question. This should keep you going for quite a while.
Take-away content from your site; what can be better? These guides should have your branding and contact information. That way, wherever the guide is being used, you are seen. You can capture names and email addresses easily with these guides. Or you can provide them without any requirements as well. Again, get creative with what you provide. If your area is famous for an activity, provide a guide for it. Take a look at North Carolina’s stunning state website, and their free interactive “travel guide” that walks you through different destinations. Here are some more free guide ideas:
- Packing List for the Perfect Trip to the Everglades
- Bird Watching 101 in the Klamath Basin
- Tips for Safe Hiking in the Badlands
- Mt. Rushmore Photography Tips
- How to Build a Sand Castle on Virginia Beach
- Teaching Children How to Freshwater Fish
- Renting a Boat and Navigating in Puget Sound
- Recipes for Dreamy Carlsbad Strawberry Desserts
- Tips and Tricks for Awesome iPhone Vacation Photos
- Coastal Golfing: Tips for Pebble Beach
Encourage user-generated content by providing a spot on your site, or through social media channels, for visitors to post photos of their visit. People love to share photos, and future visitors want to see examples of where they are going. It’s a beautiful thing!
Traveling should be fun and relaxing. The more information visitors have in order to plan for a good time, the better. Also, if they had a good time, they may return.
What content ideas do you have for this industry? Please share them.