How a simple and cheap content project helped a family-owned lodge grow their direct bookings.
Deep in the Peruvian Amazon, about as deep as it’s possible for tourists to go, is a family-owned lodge called TAMBO BLANQUILLO. Over the last 30 years, owner Luis Felipe Raffo has built a business delivering unique experiences in one of the world’s most thrilling travel destinations.
The dedication by Luis, his family and his small staff had earned Tambo Blanquillo the loyalty of their referring travel agents and the appreciation of countless satisfied guests. But as with many small travel firms, they didn’t have enough time to keep up to date with digital marketing, grow their web presence, or generate much direct business.
Luis was keen to boost his direct bookings,
so he turned to I&I for help.
- Tight budgets made it hard to commission much new content from external writers, but we quickly realised that wouldn’t be necessary. No-one knows more about the local area and its wildlife than Tambo’s owners and guides. Rather than create new content, the challenge was to extract the wealth of knowledge locked up inside the business.
- Tambo’s core audience are keen birdwatchers, photographers and nature enthusiasts who are mid-to-high income with an interest in adventure travel. We needed to connect with this narrow audience to ensure high conversion and booking rates.
- The project needed to deliver bookings at comparable or lower cost than Tambo’s trade referrals, and generate positive ROI as quickly as possible.
Reaching and inspiring the right audience
We couldn’t afford to spend time or money reaching people who weren’t likely to book with Tambo Blanquillo. We built a clear picture of our ideal audience persona, understanding their demographics, interests and needs as they plan their vacations.
Based on this we developed a content plan that would resonate and inspire our target audience.
We decided to create a field guide to bird watching in the Peruvian Amazon, using the unique knowledge and expertise of Tambo’s staff and guides.
The guide contained everything a prospective traveller would need to know about planning a bird watching trip to the Amazon, including field notes on spotting and identifying different species.
It could be downloaded for free and saved to the traveller’s mobile device for use during their trip.
The end result was an unparalleled, definitive content asset:
Turning audiences into prospects
We used various tools to bring the target audience to our new content.
Facebook ads allowed us to promote the guide to very narrow audience groups:
When people clicked on our ads and downloaded the travel guide they defined themselves as qualified prospects – they had shown their interest and we knew they were potential bookings.
Converting prospects into leads and bookings
We used remarketing ads to re-capture our prospects when they were ready to book a trip. Google search and display PPC ads are the ideal tools for this job:
Using these tools we were able to target our Google ads to people who’d already downloaded the guide, vastly increasing our conversion and booking rates.
The project was an enormous success:
- Increased unique visitors by 160%.
- Earned new links & referrals from top authority sites.
- Decreased bounce rates by 55%.
- Increased email subscriptions by 661%.
- Increased leads by 290%.
- Return on Investment (ROI) of 425%
With projects like this the content itself doesn’t drive the bookings. It is used as a magnet to build audiences, impress potential customers and capture their email addresses.
Then we use other channels to re-capture them when they’re ready to book a trip, bringing them back to the site and securing the booking.
The ROI achieved is testimony to the power of content marketing when done right.
Now, months after publication, the content and supporting channels continue to deliver qualified traffic, leads and direct bookings at a volume unprecedented in the company’s history.
No one said content marketing is easy. But here is evidence, once and for all, that it can be done for travel companies of almost any size.
Now have a think about your own brand. What stories could we tell together?