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."
Rob Burley’s Travel Marketing Made Simple podcast offers agents digital marketing advice, from how to create inspiring video content to advice on understanding clients’ intent.
Burley explains: “When I first started my own travel business specialising in Formula One Grand Prix trips, I built up business by taking online courses on marketing and using Google AdWords, and I realised agents needed help working out online marketing too.”
When Covid hit, Burley set up a new venture, Travel Expert Accelerator, offering training for agents, and created a podcast to complement it.
“I want to help agents identify niche travel product, build up their web pages and find success by using paid advertising,” he explains.
Burley’s podcasts include guest speakers such as Carol Savage, creator of Not In The Guidebooks, and Travelguru.tv’s Cathy Bartop.
The podcasts are hosted on Burley’s website (nichetravelbrands.com) for agents to access for free, and since his podcasts are also filmed, he plans to post the videos on YouTube for extra exposure.
The podcast has helped Burley build trust among his listeners. “It’s raised my profile and built trust and authority, as well as helping agents by offering free advice,” he says.
Brave, Bold, Brilliant is the brainchild of entrepreneur and former Saga chief executive Jeannette Linfoot. The be-weekly podcast picks the brains of “people at the top of their game” from all walks of life, with travel industry guests including Miles Morgan of Miles Morgan Travel and TTG Media’s CEO Daniel Pearce.
“I believe everyone has greatness within them and I’m fascinated by how some people can unlock that and be successful,” explains Linfoot of her podcast concept, which is aimed at “business people who want to fulfil their potential”.
Her advice to agents who want to create their own podcast is to make use of their network to find guests and promote the podcast. “Tell everyone what you’re doing and get the word out on social media,” she says.
When it comes to having a theme, she recommends “being broad enough to have a wide appeal, but still having a niche”.
Linfoot adds that consistency is vital to building up a loyal audience. “Always publish your podcast on the same day and time each week or month,” she advises.
“If you have a clear proposition, interesting guests and are consistent, you can gain traction quite quickly.”
Mental health and wellbeing is the focus for Travel Counsellor Lizzie Adamson-Brown’s Mind. Body. Travel podcast, which she presents with her husband Colin. “I’ve always been passionate about mental health and thought travel can help lift our spirits,” she explains.
Her guests have included DMCs who talk about a health and wellbeing options in a destination, while a recently recorded session features Michael Finnigan, a psychologist who talks about the science behind why travel is good for wellbeing and mental health.
The podcasts have already helped Adamson-Brown secure new clients, with a plan to sell and escort yoga and wellness groups alongside some of her Travel Counsellor colleagues later this year. “I’ve had a good January and some of that is thanks to new business from the podcast. It’s reaching a massive new audience,” she says.
Her tips for others are to pick a subject you are passionate about. “That passion will shine through and can’t be faked,” she says.
Choosing enthusiastic guests who are experts in their field is also vital.
And her final tip? “Have a giggle and enjoy it,” she says. “We have a lot of banter on our podcast. It’s good fun, I’m meeting new people and it’s keeping travel top of mind for listeners.”
To record a podcast, you’ll need the following:
A good mic with a filter. Marie Rowe uses a Neewer NW-7000, which is available on Amazon and comes with a USB cable, suspension scissor arm, shock mount and pop filter for about £40.
Recording software. Using Zoom to record the podcast allows you to create a video and a separate sound file.
Editing software. Free options include iMovie or Audacity.
Fiverr is a handy resource for finding freelance sound producers, with prices starting from £5.
A podcast hosting platform. Podbean and Buzzsprout are both options, costing between £9 and £16 a month.