Guest Post: Developing a content strategy for the traveller, not the search engine

Guest Post: Developing a content strategy for the traveller, not the search engine

Steve Pritchard, managing director of SEO agency It Works Media, believes the forecasted increase spend on travel is an opportunity for travel businesses to develop a content strategy to entice the new era of customer demands.

A recent YouGov survey we commissioned revealed that 48% of consumers would not trust a brand that uses AI written content. So, how can we create an effective content strategy that consumers can trust, while also using the latest Martech solutions to improve efficiency?

Consumers are shifting how they research their next holiday, utilising a vast quantity of reviews, guides and blog posts to help them decide. Therefore, travel brands need to develop content that is not just focused on the needs of the search engines. Instead, it’s important to create content that educates and inspires them to find the best holiday and to highlight why they should book from you and not the competition.

As recently reported by Travolution, consumers are forecast to spend 28% more on travel this year. This is a great opportunity for travel businesses to tell a more compelling content story, engaging with an ever demanding consumer who is willing to spend more than ever before.

Your content is where this importance lies - so here are some tips on marketing to the traveller instead of the search engine.

Don’t rely too heavily on AI

Although AI has been at the front of the conversation for months now, it is still too early to understand how search engines value such content, therefore our recommendations would always be to use AI to support your content team, making their roles more efficient, rather than as an alternative to having a team altogether.

Should we trust a fully automated approach?

As our survey found, the uncertainty behind the power of AI is clearly a concern for some and will impact how they view such content. It’s apparent that AI won’t be replacing a good copywriter in the near future, therefore we recommend tools like ChatGPT (and the alternatives) are used as a helpful springboard instead. 

Google’s search liaison, Danny Sullivan, took to Twitter to share his concerns after a live event, saying: “There are well recognised issues with AI generated content, so human oversight is important if using it to create content”. In certain situations, AI writing tools can create good content, however it is vital to have a human overlooking the content before any is published.

How should AI be used for content creation?

With human oversight, tools like ChatGPT and Bard can be helpful in the beginning stages of content creation. Make use of the encyclopaedic knowledge and use AI for keyword ideas, blog topics, or content ideation. When writer’s block kicks in, AI can do the work for you and offer up a great starting point for your content. Hours of work can be saved, and maybe prompt some new ideas from yourself.

First drafts can also be a helpful offer, as you can get the bones of your content from the AI tool and can edit from there. Save time by using a pre-existing structure and content ideas, and edit the piece into something on-brand and persuasive. 

Are there types of content that should always be written by a human?

It’s also important to not generalise all types of content together - and look into which type of website content a consumer would want written by a human. 28% of consumers we surveyed believe travel guides should be written by a person, as the opinion and real human experience is a core feature. When selling a holiday, there may be an element of disbelief if potential customers are reading their future holiday described by a machine.

You need to tell a story

Storytelling is key when selling a dream holiday. Whether you’re selling a camping trip in the UK or a tropical getaway in Thailand, research your customers and work out what they’re looking for in a holiday. Blog posts, landing pages, and product descriptions are the key places where you can work on optimising your content and turn browsers into bookings.

Though keywords are important for SEO purposes, don’t forget to keep your copy persuasive and engaging. After all, there is no point ranking high in the search engines if your content does not persuade travellers to buy. Use an aspirational tone and paint a picture of what their holiday will be like if they bought from your business.

The story should also include your brand, its history and the experience of your team. This not only helps to persuade the customer to trust you, but also to define authority. Integrating real author bios into every content piece has proven to be invaluable for search engines and your customers to know that a real travel expert created the content.

Develop a content strategy

Travellers need to be sold a story of their potential holiday, and have trust in the brand that this will be fulfilled. After the pandemic and cost of living crisis, trust between consumer and brand is more important than ever. By developing an in-depth content strategy, you can effectively develop the message across all content pieces, from blog posts, to PPC creative and landing pages.

A content strategy should define what content is going to be created, how (if at all) AI will be used to support the content and allow your team to plan their workload, linked with seasonal trends which are often found within travel. 

Now is a great time to start

Though our survey highlighted the need for AI to be used carefully to develop content, there is no doubt that AI powered tools could help to support your content marketing efforts. Help with ideation, initial drafts and research will likely improve efficiency and the quality of your content.

Marketing to holidaymakers is no longer just about the search engines - instead, invest time in your content to create a compelling story. Once you have your travellers’ dream holiday, show how you can make this a reality.