Branded Travel Blogs: A Communications Strategy

By Susan Hartzler Public Relations Executive, Mental Marketing | June 14, 2015

Custom branded content is booming in today's media landscape. For the travel industry, hosting leading travel bloggers to create and deliver enriching branded editorial has become an effective complement to an integrated public relations strategy. The California Highway 1 Discovery Route, representing more than 500 lodging operations in 10 destinations of the Central Coast, has implemented a paid blogging program to connect this diverse region with targeted travelers in a dynamic way.

The Truth About Travel Bloggers

We all know that the way consumers find information about travel destinations is evolving. Today, more than 80% of travel planning is done through the Internet. With the majority of consumers booking their travel online, more and more companies, PR agencies and Destination Marketing Offices (like tourism boards) are beginning to understand the benefits of working with bloggers to promote their products and destinations through online and social media campaigns.

According to Cision' State of the Media Survey 2015, digital and social media journalism will continue to boom. Cision is a leading provider of public relations software that enables professionals to plan, execute and measure influencer-oriented campaigns in one integrated platform.

In 2014, new and continuing developments persevered and pushed the boundaries of the newsroom-and with these developments emerged a sense of excitement for the future of media. Even big-name media companies are reinventing themselves in terms of operations, offerings, products and personnel, going beyond the scope of traditional news.

One of the major driving forces in this evolution is the Millennial Generation, the biggest generation of customers ever. As more Millennials reach adulthood, a different breed of customer emerges; one who's connective technology, i.e. the internet, web and smartphones, have pretty much always been around. What you may find surprising is the growing importance of travel bloggers. In fact, 33% of US travelers read travel blogs for advice and ideas of where to vacation. That number is certain to grow over time because:

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.