By Brandon Zienowicz, Bluetent — There is a trend most of us in the vacation rental industry are intimately familiar with – OTAs and listing sites (HomeAway, VRBO, Airbnb, TripAdvisor, etc.) have an increasingly stronger presence in organic and paid search. Their inventory is extensive, marketing budgets massive, and they are well-established brands directly sought out by travelers.
The growing awareness and use of vacation rentals as alternatives to hotels has offered room for small property managers to continue to grow inventories and revenue. When it comes to ROI-centered marketing, focusing on the bottom of the funnel (when users are ready to book) has historically worked well and is where most hospitality companies spend marketing dollars.
However, as travelers continue to go straight to big name brands, search activity transitions more to mobile devices with less screen real estate and PPC competition increases. Focusing on the (less competitive) top and middle of the funnel may prove to be a long-term strategy that pays dividends. Creating high-quality content is the best way to bring users to your site at that stage of the lifecycle.
5 Reasons to Invest in Creating Excellent Content
- Travelers are spending increasingly more time researching and planning trips before booking.
- Content helps vacation rental managers digitally showcase local knowledge and convey the authentic concierge component that differentiates them from big listing sites.
- Content affects site performance on search engines as their algorithms are looking for content-based signals to determine the value a website/company can offer users, and thus how prominently the site should show in organic search results.
- High-quality content (that focuses on answering queries higher in the funnel) provides rental managers a chance to earn early brand awareness and affinity which can nurture travelers as they approach the booking phase of their planning.
- As rental managers continue to leverage more marketing channels, content can feed those channels (email, social media) and keep engagement high across all marketing initiatives.
Elements That Contribute to Strong Content
- Unique information, tips, insights or perspectives that don’t exist anywhere else
- Input from experts/authorities on the area
- A level of detail for the given topic that doesn’t exist elsewhere
- High-quality visuals (images, videos, maps, infographics, iconography)
- Curation of only the best information from around the web for the given topic
- Accurate data conveyed in a new and useful way that might not exist anywhere else
Tips for Creating Great Content
We get it. Resources are an issue when it comes to getting this stuff done. No one said content creation is easy, but for organizations who are creative and agile, it is possible to create great content.
Your Team: Assign roles/responsibilities, send internal surveys, employ interns or local college students and provide a budget for content creators to experience local events, restaurants, tours, etc.
Business Partners: Use your existing and new relationships (and build new ones) to gather unique insights, exclusive interviews and discounts that competitors won’t have.
Local Experts: Whether it is a local food writer, reporter, politician, real estate agent, tour guide or long-time resident, there are people with the information you need.
Guests: Have conversations with guests about their experience, send post-departure surveys, run contests/giveaways based on content or photo submissions and use your social channels to poll guests on questions that can drive content.
Digital Professionals: While the best content is going to come from those with feet on the ground in your destination, digital marketing professionals can help research, plan, organize, optimize, polish and promote your content for maximum impact.
Compelling content that targets the topics travelers are searching for has the potential to drive consistent organic traffic, feed your marketing channels, contribute to brand awareness and improve your perception in the eyes of search engines and travelers.
The time is now. Airbnb is tapping into homeowners and local photographers to create high-quality neighborhood pages and HomeAway made a $20 million investment in Gogobot in 2014 to scale area content across their destinations. That being said, it’s not too late to make an impact on your business and start building content equity now that can benefit you long into the future.
For more information, download The Case for Great Travel Content. To download the entire report, please visit www.bluetent.com/white-paper-download.
About Brandon Zienowicz
Brandon Zienowicz is an account manager at Bluetent, working remotely from Chattanooga, TN. With a depth of experience in SEO, he enjoys digging into the variety of pieces that are critical to modern day business success. From technical SEO to analytics, content strategy, user experience, conversion optimization and brand positioning, he is focused on helping clients grow and stay relevant in today’s fast-changing marketplace.