In our last few posts, following a whirl of inspiring conferences in September, we have spoken a lot about travel bloggers and what they can offer travel businesses.
But what about the travel companies, who are thinking of setting up their own travel blogs? Who does it? What are the benefits? And most importantly, is it worth it?
Taking the lead
Well, one tourist board that does have a blog which performs outstandingly well is Visit Britain. The Visit Britain Superblog receives a whopping 24 million unique visitors every month (just a shade fewer than the New York Times website) and in doing so has claimed the enviable title of most popular blog in the world. Launched in 2011, it offers visitors from abroad, as well as a huge UK fan base the chance to pick up local tips on what to see, do and eat across the country.
Another example is a blog we run - Visit Melbourne blog set up in 2012 to reach out to visitors in the UK, which works by offering readers an inside glimpse into all sorts, from the diary of the wildlife ranger to the top jobs for visitors with a Working Holiday Visa. Elsewhere, the Sunvil Holidays blog, which is written by 501 places blogger Andy Jarosz, is an excellent example of a brand working with an established travel blogger, who opens up destinations to readers by sharing local recipes, such as Paxos fish stew, and reporting on off-the-radar events, such as the International Buskers Festival in Sicily.
And it’s this local knowledge, this ability to reach out to people on a personal basis that seems to be the key to successful company travel blogs.
So why start up a company travel blog?
Well ask yourself a question. How often are you, as a travel company, able to chew the fat with your customers. Ask them how their day went, introduce them to your latest hotel, suggest a great little taverna down the road for dinner – make it personal? Social media is, of course, fabulous for this. But travel blogging sets itself apart in allowing you to start a more substantive conversation with customers.
There is a myth that social media is progressively getting smaller - blogging is being replaced by tweeting, which in turn is being replaced by posting pictures on instagram. This simply is not true. Yes, Pinterest and instagram are the new kids on the block (in fact, reports from ABTA suggest ten percent of all the images ever produced were taken in last 12 months, which is, quite frankly, mind boggling). But long form content is more popular than ever. Just follow the bright bods at Mashable, who have shown that blogs have ‘steadily grown their audience 15% year over year for the last two years’.
You can even invite customers to join in the fun. The Discover Cruises blog, as one of its first posts, featured a review by one cynical traveller who had given cruising a go for the first time and loved it. So it’s about sharing alternative and authentic perspectives too.
Enough on engagement, give us some hard data, stat!
Alright, alright! There’s also a simple reason to start a company blog. Done right, it can hugely improve your SEO.
So go forth travel businesses, let us know your thoughts and get blogging!