Clients will no doubt be dreaming of when they can travel once again. Debbie Ward expains what sort of content to create for your agency website now to inspire them to travel once the coronavirus pandemic is over
As the period of frantic rebooking makes way for downtime, agents can focus some of their energy into building great website content to engage with and inspire their customers
Creating rich, inspirational website content, which can also be shared in marketing e-shots and on social media when the time is right, will get you ready for making sales when the market picks up once again. Some of that content can even be shared with clients now.
“The type of content that will see most brands through is evergreen, [meaning] content that doesn’t date. It’s not sales-focused and instead reflects your passion and expertise. Now is the perfect opportunity to spend time updating and refining this,” advises Ali McLean, founder and managing director of tour operator The Aurora Zone.
Tucan Travel is following a similar tack. Marketing executive Emma Nelson says: “We are ensuring we have the right inspirational content ready for when the time is right. We have recently been working on our city guides for destinations around the world, which we will start to push out as inspiration once travelling is back on the horizon.”
The team at The Experience Travel Group is also refreshing its evergreen content: “We’re tidying up what we call our ‘virtual shop window’ while we’ve got the chance,” explains managing director Sam Clark.
You needn’t necessarily see the content as purely a project for future use. While sales messages could currently be considered in poor taste and get lost among the constant news coverage, some operators believe as the weeks go by, wider travel content could be used to inspire and entertain clients and keep you front of mind for when bookings resume.
McLean says: “As time passes, people will certainly be thinking about seizing opportunities and making the most of the world, so anything that’s inspirational and gets your customers excited about what they can do once things improve will also be ideal to keep your audience engaged – think destination guides and travel editorials.
“Nostalgia pieces and content that’s focused on the future will be pivotal in getting brands and customers through the tough period.”
Experience Travel Group is currently taking a two-pronged approach, with half the team handling rebookings and the other half working on “business as usual” strategies.
Clark says: “It’s not about pushing people to think about booking right now, that’s silly and maybe counterproductive. We’re thinking start a conversation with your clients and give them a resource to engage them when they’re stuck at home.”
The company is making some of these resources available to travel agents on request, including its travel booklet – a browsing brochure without prices that includes stories on a range of destinations and is available in PDF format.
It is also encouraging agents to request its fun Travel Toppers card game (loosely based on Top Trumps) that gives scores to destinations for wildlife, culture, best beaches and more. Agents can send a PDF to clients to print out and cut out into cards, for use if they’re entertaining children.
Tucan Travel’s Nelson says the operator’s content, which includes city guides, is currently largely inspirational: “Our city guides contain information on the best places to see, food to try [and] areas to explore. We have found this kind of content goes down well with customers as they can get an idea of which destination they are drawn to based on activities, food, etc.”
She adds: “We are also working on updating destination pages to highlight ‘top places to see’ in each country. Again, working on purely inspirational content that will hopefully get people excited to travel again!”
Experience Travel Group’s evergreen content includes stories from customers from their past trips. As a bonus, sourcing such content is another reason for agents to contact clients and engage with them during the slump.
Rather than just asking clients for comments or reviews of their hotel or guide, Clark suggests posing the question: “Can you remember one moment that really stood out?”
“They end up sending a story and that’s more powerful – plus it’s a brilliant way to currently reach out to previous clients and touch base,” he says.
Agents can write their own trip reports for their agency website based on educationals and holidays. For those who aren’t confident writers, these needn’t be finely crafted articles, but can run in a Q&A format or as lists of tips and highlights.
“If it’s personal, people will engage with it much more and if they engage with it, it also works much better for [an agency’s SEO],” adds Clark.
While fly-and-floppers may favour deals, clients interested in touring and tailor-made travel will respond best to richer content.
Experience Travel Group’s content includes videos taken by its own consultants and Clark advises agents to utilise any fam footage they have. “That’s content that really works on social,” he adds.
He also suggests sharing fun and interesting travel content you find on social media, like the story of the elephant that got into a Sri Lanka hotel reception – these are the sort of stories that provide some light relief for clients in these troubled times.
Customer reviews and feedback
Ask clients to submit feedback from a trip answering the question “what was the most memorable experience?”
Write from your own experience from fams and holidays. You might want to bullet point this as tips, or put it in a Q&A format (get colleagues who haven’t visited to ask you what they’d want to know).
Use product from suppliers you work with to make inspiring lists of five or 10 things you can book under certain themes, for example “best wildlife experiences” or “hotels with a view”. These can be updated with a call to action and sent out to clients in e-shots later in the year.
Help engage first-time cruisers, skiers and the like with helpful answers to Frequently Asked Questions on your agency site.