Why inbound marketing is taking off in the travel industry

by Stratton Craig

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Inbound vs outbound
Traditional – or outbound – marketing, involves reaching out to consumers, for instance through cold-calling, direct mail, paid advertising and sponsorship. Today, many companies choose to rely on inbound marketing instead. A product of the digital and social media age, inbound marketing works by generating engaging and relevant online content that draws consumers in. While outbound marketing buys consumers’ interest, inbound marketing earns it.
The generational divide
Studies show that older generations are more accepting of and susceptible to traditional outbound marketing. Younger generations, however, have less patience for it. Our attention span is increasingly diminished by lightning-fast technology. We revel in the instant distraction of smart phones, we fast-forward through adverts and we switch websites if content isn’t immediately appealing. Marketing to the under 35s needs to be targeted, engaging and tailored specifically to their interests. And it should be a conversation, not a broadcast.
A dynamic medium
The immediate nature of online media means that we can create and publish content in an instant. Whether it’s a 140-character tweet, an Instagram image, a blog post or a YouTube video – it’s easy to broadcast a message live to the world. And it’s free. Which makes inbound marketing both dynamic and flexible. What’s more, online analytics mean you can tailor your content to your audience’s interests.
Blogs are short and snappy, images engage audiences in a split-second, and videos are entertaining and multi-sensory yet take up little time. Which is just as well, as the average attention span has fallen to just eight seconds.
So why does inbound marketing work so well for the travel industry?
Eighty-five percent of travel research is carried out through search engines, so it makes sense to use this platform for travel marketing. And of course the visual element of travel marketing is critical – a striking image is more tantalising than a written description. With inbound marketing, travel companies can use as many images as they like – on their websites, blogs or social media platforms.
What’s more, a well-written blog can bring a destination to life, creating a vicarious and memorable impression on visitors. A personal, informal tone means it’s more relatable than paid advertorials. And aligning your content with consumers’ interests means you’re providing value and answering their questions. Consumers are coming to you, which establishes a relationship based on permission, and you’re interacting through their chosen platform – whether that’s a blog, videos or image. All of this is far more appealing than the spamming approach – or impersonal, polished advertorials.
And as you’ve already entertained your consumers with engaging content, a small call to action at the end of your piece is acceptable – and even expected. So all in all, inbound marketing works exceptionally well for the travel industry.
Travel blogs we like
Lonely Planet
Travel Republic
Rough Guides

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