As much as the world craves a total return to business as usual right now, that won’t be the case if we’re to be safe and smart. And whether you’re a boutique hotel or a regional DMO, the same goes for your content marketing in order to be timely, in-touch, and valuable – and position your brand to capitalize on the kind of travel that consumers now look for in this “new normal.”
If you’ve read our recent post “3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Pause Your Marketing During a Crisis,” you already know that the name of the game during this pandemic is all about pausing your pre-COVID marketing strategy and pivoting to keep your brand relevant and top-of-mind with consumers. That’s still the case, particularly when it comes to your latest blog content.
So what the heck do you talk about in your current posts as things transition back to normal? Based on the blog content we develop, write, load, and manage on Opal Unpacked, the blog for luxury resort company Opal Collection, we share some common content pillars and topics that your posts should speak to in order to best inform and shape consumers’ current and future travel decisions.
Pillar 1: Content That Maximizes Life at Home with the Help of Your Brand
This may seem like a no-brainer as it’s the kind of content that hospitality and travel brands were smart to switch to once quarantine really kicked in at the end of March (and when other content that encouraged travel felt insensitive). Think blog posts that detail recipes provided by a hotel chef, mindfulness exercises from a local partner, even at-home style and design tips inspired by your resort’s vibe.
But the beauty of this kind of content is that it never goes out of style – pandemic or no pandemic. In fact, creating serviceable content that prompts guests to think of your brand while at home is smart marketing at all times – and the kind that makes them loyal.
Sure, posts that speak to your destination, travel inspiration, or tips may be the best to get them to book, but general “lifestyle” content that reminds them of your unique brand and destination experience will keep them coming back.
And it’s still valuable now in this “new normal.” As travel restrictions ease, these kinds of blog stories no longer need to make up 100 percent of your marketing blog strategy, but it can’t hurt to keep those types of posts in your calendar. Because, while things may be opening again, it doesn’t mean everyone is ready or able to travel, especially your consumers who live a plane ride away.
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Pillar 2: Speak to Your New Core Audience
It’s likely that those who will be visiting your destination or property over the next several months will be your drive-market folks – travelers who crave a getaway, but will want to stay closer to home and maybe have less to spend or are trying to budget accordingly.
So, cater your content to best speak to them. For example, road trip–themed stories from the nearest major cities are a great way to demonstrate how close you are, show off all the recently reopened stops and attractions en-route to your property or destination, and inspire what to do once they are in your destination (we recently created a road-trip series for our Opal Collection client with this in mind).
Other story ideas might revolve around new or under-the-radar attractions or businesses to check out in the destination (for example, “10 Destination To-Dos that Even Locals Don’t Know About”), as drive-market visitors may have visited your destination before and been to all the obvious touristy to-dos. Think of this as a way to show them why they should come back – and why now is the time.
Pillar 3: Address Their Concerns about Social Distancing
Guests – whether drive market or your eventual destination travelers – will be sensitive to what kind of precautions your hotel or destination businesses are taking regarding cleanliness and social distancing. So, it’s key to work in content that addresses that.
A straightforward post about all the steps you are taking and what you’re doing on-site is certainly fine (ideally, one of your website subpages should be dedicated to detailing this info).
But for a blog post, an even more creative approach might be highlighting your most private places on-property (such as “Our Favorite Opal Private Retreats”) or detailing your destination’s top attractions/to-dos that naturally encourage social distancing (like local botanical gardens, outdoor fire pits on-property, or rolling expanses of nature preserves).
Or, if you’re a particularly remote retreat already like Opal Collection’s own Lake Placid Lodge – buried in the woods overlooking its namesake lake in Upstate New York, where seclusion and distance is the number-one allure of staying here – be sure to play that up.
Pillar 4: Mini-Reunions & Micro Get-Togethers
As more consumers become comfortable with the idea of traveling again, it’s likely that they will want to spend that precious vacation time with families and friends, many of whom they’ve been forced to isolate from during the crisis.
For that reason, consider stories that highlight how your resort or destination is ideal for such mini-reunions – not just because you address all the appropriate social-distancing protocols, but because what you and your destination collectively offer is the ultimate retreat for your group. For example, The Girls’ Getaway Guide to Lake George or The Couples’ Group Getaway Guide to Clearwater Beach.
Even better, if you’re a hotel offering added value or perks to encourage booking, say a three-night package with free breakfast or spa discounts, this is also a place to promote those with an additional call to action.
This makes consumers feel that they are getting the most bang for their buck – and as our economy recovers, this is something travelers will be paying more attention to than they were prior to the pandemic.
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Pillar 5: Future Travel Ideas and Inspiration
Of course, it’s certainly fine to create content that highlights your destination’s busier or more popular attractions – after all, these attractions and businesses are precisely what makes your city or location unique, even if they aren’t yet open or are operating under new protocols that only allow travelers to access limited features. And what better way to help position yourself and your local partners to capitalize on the eventual coming travel demand than by promoting them?
The key lies in how you present or phrase things. Address that travel is at an awkward place right now, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still plan or daydream about future trips. Posts like “Bucket-List To-Dos in Our Destination(s)” that share the ways to best capitalize on certain attractions – even if they aren’t open right now – remind readers why your destination is a must when travel returns to normal. Because, the fact of the matter is, things will go back to normal eventually.
Looking for more inspiration and information on how to achieve travel or hotel marketing that stands out from the crowd? Be sure to check out: