Brands that blog well:

Virtually every travel brand on the web has a blog tucked away somewhere on their site, yet given how ubiquitous they’ve become it’s surprising how few live up to their full potential.

For digital brands that have little or no direct contact with their customers, a good blog offers an important opportunity to show some personality, demonstrate credibility and expertise, and provide content that is effective at capturing new audiences, generating revenue and creating ongoing relationships.  Although this is a cornerstone to successful content marketing, many travel brands still have big problems getting it right.

But is a great example of a travel brand that blogs well. The site publishes content from a stable of respected journalists including David WhitelyNikki BayleyAndy Jarosz, among others, writing destination content that is interesting, entertaining and often brilliant.  Contributors cover a variety of cultural and special-interest stories on destinations worldwide, from the favelas of Rio to wombat sanctuaries in Australia, all of which is highly targeted to the intended audience of round the world travellers.

This content tends to perform well on social media, thanks both to its notable quality and the cachet of its authors, acting as a significant driver for new visits to the site. A longer-term benefit of is a gradual growth in long-tail search queries from a constant accumulation of rich content.

And according to owner, Stuart Lodge, there are numerous other payoffs: “It increases our time on site and it reduces our bounce rate massively, both of which aid our SEO efforts. But more than that, it gives us authority: people like it. All those factors drive bookings which is the only ROI that matters.

“I’ve seen a lot of competitors, including some of the major players, that fill their sites with weak content. If I was a customer that would put me off. We know people are smarter than that. They want to read real travel content, not SEO farmed rubbish.”

It’s this reader-first attitude that invariably defines a good brand travel blog and unlocks much greater benefits (including from search) than content that is primarily written for SEO purposes.

Commissioning from professionals is the obvious first step to creating a reader-first blog, but so is trusting them to do their job. Although the temptation may be to work to pre-agreed titles or within a heavily structured editorial calendar, this may not always be for the best. Chances are that as a professional journalist they’re a better judge of editorial standards than you are. A more flexible approach is to simply agree on the destination(s) and then trust the author to file stories that work for the intended audience.

This allows them to produce stories while on press trips or assignments for other publications, resulting in fresh, detailed and lively stories.  It also allows them to write on subjects they’re interested and passionate about, again all contributing to the quality of the finished product.  Or, as contributor David Whitely explains:

“It’s about professional pride and wanting to keep the gig. From my perspective, it’s an admirably brave approach. But there’s a logic to it. I’m a better judge of what’s a good story than he is; I’m also there while he’s sat in an office. It also allows for the content to be genuinely distinctive rather than doing the usual prescriptive top tens and accounts of seeing the main sights.”

As demonstrates, the rewards for getting this right are too big to ignore. Make the step from generic to extraordinary now.

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