Want inspiration for starting a podcast in a pandemic? Abra Dunsby speaks to the travel professionals who made it happen, highlighting their hints and tips
When travel ground to a halt last year, Travel Counsellor Marie Rowe decided to use the downtime as an opportunity to try her hand at creating a podcast, something she’d always wanted to do but hadn’t the time for previously.
Her podcast series, Real Adventures, which focuses on beyond-the-beach adventure destinations with insights from guest speakers, was listed as one of the top adventure podcasts to listen to last year and was also nominated for the People’s Choice Podcast Awards.
Rowe explains her motivations for creating the series. “When it all kicked off and travel evaporated I wanted to keep visible and have content to inspire people for future travel and help keep their spirits up.”
She started the first 10-part series last May, and due to its success – each episode attracted around 1,000 targeted listeners – is currently planning a second.
The beyond-the-beach subject matter is suited to her client base, who love to book five-star adventure holidays.
Rowe has been strategic in her destination choices, highlighting countries she’d like to sell more of. Each episode also includes five hotel recommendations and a call to action to download a destination guide, which helps her capture the data of her listeners.
While the podcast series has been labour intensive (Rowe says: “It takes around 10 hours per episode, from conceptualising it to publishing it and marketing it,”) she expects a significant return on investment as her reward.
“It’s good for leads – I’ve got great relationships with people who I know will book eventually. If I get one enquiry for the series, it would easily cover the costs of making it.”
Rowe also plans to use the podcasts as resources for existing clients who are interested in a destination and want to know more about it. “When I’m busy, I can point people to the podcasts and let them discover how much there is to do in that destination for adventurers.”
For other agents considering creating a podcast, Rowe advises: “Have a niche. Then spend time thinking; what is the point of my podcast? Who is it for and what do I want it to achieve?”
Rowe did plenty of research into podcasts and also enlisted the help of “podcast guru” Neal Veglio of Podknows Productions, who helps with sound production, marketing the podcast and gives her advice on content and interview techniques.
She also recommends having a content plan for each podcast and briefing the guest speaker, but not scripting the entire episode.
“Have a few standard questions you ask guests but don’t send them a whole list of questions as you don’t want scripted answers. It’s best for it to be natural, even if that compromises on the quality slightly.”
She also recommends a podcast length of 15 to 30 minutes, adding that you’ll need to speak to your guest for around double the podcast length to ensure you have enough quality content to edit.
Rowe’s guests have included other travel agents, former clients, as well as influencer and blogger contacts.
“They’re all people I know, so it’s been easy to get them to take part,” she says.
Rowe has loved learning from guests and acquiring a new skill during what would have otherwise been a tough time.
“Travel is my passion, not just my job, so I lost my hobbies and interests too [when the pandemic began]. This has filled my time, I’ve learnt something new and been able to provide inspiration for my contacts, clients and colleagues."