Curating for travel consumers: the hows and the whys

The good folks at Buffer have published a practical nuts & bolts guide to content curation for busy people. Rather than reinvent the wheel I suggest you head over there and check it out, but first maybe it’d be useful to take a quick detour into why curation can be such a powerful element of your digital strategy.

We know that the web has long beencontent deluge wave
deluged by a flood of “content” that grows at an exponential rate, making it ever harder for people to access the information they want, and at the right time.  Various solutions exist but they’re all inadequate: search engines only help you find the content you’re already looking for, they don’t aid discovery. Social tends to prioritise fluff and popularity at the expense of credibility and niche publishers.

Enter the curators. A curator is someone who applies a filter to the deluge, proactively sifting out the content of interest from the endless stream of garbage. The most effective curators are people who know their audiences so well they can create a filter that is hyper-targeted for their exact needs.

This has valuable applications in the B2B world (ahem) but is also enormously important for consumer-facing travel brands. The Buffer article offers some useful pointers on becoming an effective curator, here are a few travel-specific reasons for doing so:

From creator to curator

High value content is the lubricant that moves prospects through your marketing funnel, encouraging and reassuring them along the customer journey until the final point of conversion.  But high value content is expensive and needs to be created and deployed strategically with a constant eye on outcomes and ROI.

Instead of filling the gap with lower value content and contributing to the deluge, content curation can pick up the slack. There’s absolutely no need to churn out new content just for the sake of it when something already exists elsewhere on the web.

Rather than writing yet another “recommended restaurants in…” space filler blog article, why not curate some of the best existing recommendations from elsewhere?

When you can create new value, create new content. Otherwise, curate it from elsewhere.

Promotion by association

But this isn’t just about time & cost saving. Travel consumers draw heavily on independent sources of information and reassurance before booking: travel guides, publications, blogs, review sites, and so on.

Curating relevant content from authoritative sources at the right moment can contribute significantly more to your customer journey than content you’ve created yourself.  Branded/owned media tends to appear biased or subjective – when reading your content your visitors are (rightfully) thinking “well you would say that, wouldn’t you?”

Putting independent authority content out there that reinforces your brand messages is a powerful way of moving people further down your marketing funnel and towards a conversion.

You can tell people how amazing your destination is until you’re blue in the face. Finding and sharing an articulate, inspirational travel blogger who says the same thing might be much more effective.

Engaging influencers

Which brings us to a welcome side-effect of effective curation: putting your brand in front of other consumer influencers and content creators.  Content creators love being shared and promoted to new audiences: your links, tweets, likes, recommendations and comments will earn you their appreciation, possibly a few shares in return and eventually a mutual relationship – especially if you follow the rules and curate ethically and positively…

The rule book

Curation isn’t copying and there are some ethical best practices that curators should follow, as much for your own benefit as for the publisher:

  • Only reproduce the excerpts necessary to make your point.
  • Don’t curate exclusively from a single source, filter what is relevant to your audience from multiple sources.
  • Prominently identify and link to the source (not hidden away at the end).
  • Provide additional insight, analysis or commentary that is longer and more detailed than any excerpts you reproduce i.e. add value, don’t just copy.
  • If curating images, only thumbnails should be used without permission. Images should link directly to the source.
  • Curated content should be retitled from the original source.

A few good curators

And finally, a curated list of some good travel curators (this is getting a little meta):

  • Outbounding.org: a project we’re involved with that offers a community-curated stream of high value, easily-shareable, travel content.
  • G Adventures do an excellent job on Facebook of curating high authority content from their own brand ambassadors and elsewhere.
  • Both WildJunket and National Geographic Traveler offer good examples of a regular roundup of curated travel content.
  • Barbara Weibel of Holeinthedonut.com is one of many excellent independent Twitter curators, sharing great content from across the web.

How about your audience? Could you be the curator they need?

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