How VR Is Impacting Travel Marketing.

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VR isn’t the next big thing in travel, it’s already here. The technology lends itself perfectly to the travel industry in particular and we’ve seen some brilliantly strategic applications since it emerged. The truth remains that we’ve only just scratched the surface of its potential for marketing, but here are some of the ways VR is shaping the future of the travel industry.

1. Virtual Reality is Being Used to Create Desire Around Destinations

It’s a common problem; you’re a travel agent or tour operator providing travel to a select number of destinations. What happens when demand for those destinations dwindle? Suddenly you need to plough much more effort into marketing the destination on top of your brand and tactical activity.

What VR does here, is create an easier sell. Travel marketers are able to position the customer in situ, replicating a 360 environment of sandy beaches, the sound of the sea and local sights, giving them a sensory experience that triggers desire to actually visit.

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And, by the way, you don’t need to lure customers into your high street store to do this. With VR headsets becoming more and more adopted in the home, this can absolutely form part of your digital marketing strategy. Brands with big budgets could even go as far as distributing Google Cardboard sets to their database with a call to action to view their content, whereas smaller budgets can benefit from the viral impact created by existing VR headset owners.

2. It’s Helping Customers to Make an Informed Decisions About their Hotel Choice

Appealing to the more rationally-wired consumer, VR provides the tools to inspect the detail of a hotel at a more granular level than ever before. No longer do we have to rely solely on the second hand reviews of others! Take a tour of the rooms (bathroom and all) for yourself, and while you’re at it, inspect the on-site restaurants, bars and facilities too.

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Working with Google Cardboard technology, Virgin Holidays used VR headsets to capture the 360 video sights and sounds at one of their resorts in Mexico. Customers were impressed by the VR experience at Virgin Holidays stores, In fact, their propensity to buy increased. Virgin reported that not only did sales rise across the board, but sales of trips to the featured resort showcased by the VR technology rose significantly. (Source http://www.smartinsights.com/digital-marketing-platforms/big-data-digital-marketing-platforms/2017-travel-marketing-trends/)

3. It’s Propelling an Increase in Up Sell and Cross Sell Conversions, in Resort

We’ve talked about VR working well as a top of funnel, awareness raising activity, but let’s not overlook the value of involving the technology post-sale too. Could there be an opportunity to improve the conversion rate of excursions booked locally, in resort? Hell yeah!

With 65% of 18-34 year olds seeking to buy experiences over material things, the ‘experience economy’ is booming. VR is ripe for allowing these customers to ‘try before they buy’ and give them enough of a demo to tip the conversion scale in your favour.

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Thomas Cook reported great success in 2016 with 360-degree content when it produced VR videos of specific tours it wanted to promote. They supplied 10 of their New York premises with VR headsets to up sell their excursion offerings locally; potential customers were able to virtually fly in a helicopter over Manhattan, amongst other experiences. In the first three months alone, Thomas Cook reported a 190 percent uplift in the New York excursions it was promoting and a 40 percent return on investment. (Source http://www.travelagewest.com/Travel/Trending/How-Virtual-Reality-Is-Impacting-the-Travel-Industry/#.WIIZg_mLSUm)

So, What’s Next?

Experiment! The fact remains that, whilst VR is becoming more affordable and its place in the customer journey more valid, we’re still in the process of realising its full potential and, therefore, understanding what good looks like.

If you’re trialling VR as part of your marketing strategy for 2017, test the engagement against some of your previous video content. Are your views higher and the engagement time longer? Can you attribute additional sales to it? There is no like-for-like comparison to establish a benchmark by, but trying to ascertain whether your content is holding the interest of your customer throughout and if there is a clear connection between exposure to VR content and conversion is a good place to start.

Want to see more examples of How Travel Brands Are Harnessing the Power of VR in 2017? Check out our other blogs on the topic or take a look at how our very own client, Contiki, are leading the way!

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.

 

Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

 
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Sagittarius
sag-author100x100

Sagittarius

13 Mar 2017 - 6 minute read
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