Particularly at this time of year, we’re all used to hopping between a few travel websites on the look out for our next beach holiday or mini-break, inspired by the grey outside. And, in just a couple of clicks from the comfort of our living rooms, we’re all but on our way.

This is a far cry from days gone by, when any hopes of a holiday began with a trip to the travel agent to sift through a never-ending a pile of travel brochures, making what should feel leisurely feel almost like a chore. Nowadays, though, most consumers are clued up when it comes to finding deals on their dream destinations and are especially savvy when hunting for a bargain online.

In line with this, the travel and leisure industries have had to up their digital game, with the market experiencing a complete transformation over the last decade, to the point where it’s almost unrecognisable. There has been a switch in focus from aspirational to inspirational, with content marketing being the primary tool of choice.

Nonetheless, travel content marketing – like any content marketing – can be done wrong, and it’s important to develop an understanding of what your business can do to maximise its potential in this arena. The best way to demonstrate what strategic travel content marketing can do, and how your business can achieve it, is to offer some examples, so here’s a few ways to tackle your tourism troubles, and an overview of relevant successful digital campaigns that focus very much on the inspirational.


  1. Capitalise on your positive reviews

Many travel companies lie nervously in wait for a less-than-complimentary TripAdvisor review to come their way – understandably so, with them having no control over the site’s content. However, it’s important to celebrate the positive posts and not focus solely on the not so great.

Luckily, The Puerto Rico Tourism Company had clocked up a fair few full-markers on the travel review site when it came to planning their next campaign and decided to make the most of them. The company created unique, original videos, which brought to life the words visitors had written, accurately depicting their comments in stunning sound and visuals.

The movies – narrated by famous Puerto Ricans – were featured on TripAdvisor in an innovative move that saw the clips gain over three million views in just five months and Puerto Rico featured in numerous top-target publications and blogs throughout 2013.

What this campaign really tapped into and why it was so successful is our reliance on reliable user reviews coupled with our appetite for adventure. Using real reviews and transforming them into attractive content facilitated a relationship of trust between the company and its audience.


  1. Face your challenges head-on

In the UK, we get our fair share of rain. In Norway, they get a whole lot more – which can be an issue when it comes to marketing the country as a summer holiday destination. Rather than bury its head in the sand and deny the bad weather, though, Norwegian airline Widerøe made it the star of its ‘A Summer Without Rain’ campaign.

The challengers: two established travel bloggers. The challenge: to explore the country for 20 days while escaping the rain. The young men vlogged their journey – from a different destination each day – and posted updates to Widerøe’s social channels, allowing their audience to keep up-to-date with their adventures. Followers were able to interact with the travellers and help them with their quest to dodge the rain.

The reason this campaign did so well (the company overbooked their planes for the first time in its history) was because it shone a light on the elephant in the room – something most travel companies with undesirable factors to consider are reluctant to do. The initiative tackled a major challenge head-on, mocking Norway’s imperfections in a light-hearted manner, while highlighting the country’s beauty – a scorcher of a campaign.


  1. Tap into your audience’s emotions

Everyone likes their emotions stirred – and the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) knows it. Due to an increasing number of travel warnings dissuading people from exploring exotic locations, and therefore harming the travel industry, the USTOA felt people needed to rekindle their curiosity for different cultures and remember the human element of travelling the world.

They’d come across Matt Harding, a vlogger who became internet famous for his series of five-minute YouTube clips showing him dancing badly in different locations around the world. Whether it was in front of a famous monument, in remote towns and villages with locals or even underwater, the videos really struck a chord with his existing viewers and the USTOA saw an opportunity.

So, the USTOA propositioned Matt to put them to the test, stating they could send him anywhere – and anywhere they did. The result was a typical Matt-style video, but each location highlighted a different tour operator the company works with. The short, shareable video has tipped the 500,000 mark for views and takes pride of place in Matt’s top video list – continuing to spread the USTOA’s message.

Matt said his experiences taught him that “the world is a lot safer and friendlier than it seems on TV” – a sentiment the USTOA’s audience is sure to share.


Whether it’s a two-week blowout on the beach, a weekend city break or a cruise around the world, holidays are there to be enjoyed and help us escape the humdrum of everyday life – and they’re now more easily accessible than ever.

The digital revolution the travel industry has experienced has seen many companies take to it like a duck to water, expertly utilising content marketing to tap into their audience’s interests and generating some impressive results in the process. The opportunities for engaging content marketing campaigns will only grow as the leisure sector continues to soar and, with it, the number of planes full of tourists doing the same will too!


Daniel Nolan

Daniel Nolan


Daniel Nolan is Managing Director of theEword.