With podcasts becoming increasingly popular with consumers, Charlotte Cullinan looks at the agents and travel companies tapping into the trend
While podcast charts are normally topped by comedy, sport and true crime, it may not be long before we start to see travel firms climb up the rankings, with a growing number of agencies and travel companies creating their own.
Research undertaken this spring by UK radio and audio measurement company RAJAR found 14% of adults listen to a podcast at least once a week, up from 2% in 2014, with listeners across all age groups.
Among those making a foray into podcasts is business travel agency Clarity. Its fortnightly Absolute Clarity podcast is the brainchild of product marketing manager Kyle Daniels, who has hosted, produced and edited each episode since it launched in January 2018. Alexandra Kington, head of marketing and communications, explains: “Themes have included wellbeing, artificial intelligence and big brands.
“The reason it works so well is largely down to Kyle’s skill as a host and producer,” she continues. “He has a sixth sense for what will make an interesting conversation and isn’t afraid of asking difficult questions or taking the mick out of our guests. That makes the listener feel like they’re overhearing a group of friends chatting, rather than a corporate pitch.”
Averaging 9,000 listeners per show, Kington is confident the podcast has raised the travel management company’s profile and helped generate new business. “We have built relationships with people who wouldn’t previously have known Clarity, as well as strengthened existing relationships.”
While podcasts are undoubtedly a handy marketing tool, David Forder, head of marketing at The Advantage Travel Partnership, recommends that agents only consider starting one once they’ve mastered their social and email marketing strategies.
“These platforms and communities will provide a ready-made audience to tap into for your podcast strategy,” he explains.
In terms of promoting the podcast, he has the following advice for agents: “Using your existing channels will likely be your first port of call but you may wish to extend your reach further by reaching out to websites and blogs that deal with a similar topic to your podcast to see if they would be interested in promoting your content.
“Furthermore, asking interview guests to promote the podcast through their own marketing channels is another great way to increase your reach.
Agents seeking more tips and inspiration can listen to the growing range of podcasts produced by suppliers. In April, operator Contiki launched Out of Office, which has covered everything from Japanese food to the lives of indigenous communities in Australia.
Lottie Norman, head of content at Contiki Marketing Lab, says: “We’re constantly pushing ourselves to develop new, relevant content to engage our audiences, and to support and build on our amazing travel experiences. Podcasts are a great new channel to continue to expand the type of content we can share, and to showcase the expertise and insight that social travel can bring.”
Lasting about 20-35 minutes, each episode includes an expert, influencer or content creator, some of whom have travelled with Contiki, and specialists such as an LGBT+ activist.
Norman explains the brand wanted to showcase a range of voices. “We wanted to provide a platform for storytelling and the sharing of experiences, as opposed to everything being told by Contiki.”
The podcast is promoted through paid media, with social posts and media adverts, and is included on influencers’ channels, as well as Contiki’s website, social channels and email. The first series attracted listeners from 42 counties, and has more than 2,000 subscribers.
For advice on using a podcast to pitch your business as a destination expert, look to the Marrakech Riad portfolio of hotels. The group introduced a podcast in May, and owner Mike Wood explains: “We have lots of tips and resources on our website but, as podcast fans ourselves, wanted to launch our own to help address guests’ FAQs. This way travellers can be researching and absorbing all the information they need prior to their holiday, whether that’s on their daily commute or on the go.”
The first two episodes are full of practical advice focusing on what clients can expect from their first 24 hours in Marrakech, and what to pack.
For agents interested in following a similar format, Wood advises: “Think of the podcast as a tool to communicate your local knowledge and your ability to match guests to the right holiday in the right accommodation.”
If the thought of creating additional content is overwhelming, take inspiration from Camino Ways. The Camino de Santiago specialist launched a podcast five years ago and the majority of the 486 episodes are audio versions of the company’s informative blog posts, each about three minutes long.
Marketing manager Maria Golpe explains: “We’re creating fresh content at least twice a week for our website, so this is a way of distributing it in a different format and making it more accessible.”
She stresses that technology and costs needn’t be barriers to producing a podcast – the team records their audio in a meeting room using a handheld recorder and computer. It’s edited on free software Audacity and uploaded to podcast host Blubrry, where it is distributed to podcast directories for listeners to access.
Golpe adds: “Once you’ve got a system set up it’s easy, and podcasting programmes are very user- friendly and often free or cost-effective.”
Listen to TTG’s Trips of the Trade podcast at ttgmedia.com or on Soundcloud for inspirational stories from some of travel’s biggest names.
Podcasting tips from Sian Webster, marketing manager at The Global Travel Group:
Know your audience: Think about who your customers are and what they would find useful, and dream up some fun and engaging ideas. Use past experiences for inspiration and, most importantly, always ensure it adds value to your potential customer’s travel plans. If you specialise in a particular area, stick with that, show off your knowledge and be confident.
Be organised: Whether it’s weekly or monthly, planning in a regular podcast is the first port of call, so listeners know it’s coming and you can build an audience. Remember to mention your agency and how you can be contacted at the end of each show. Create a unique hashtag to further grow your potential reach.
Have tenacity: Be persistent and don’t get disheartened if you get poor listening figures at first – these things take time to build.