This week, The 365 Guide is discussing how to establish a blog for your travel agency as a way of expanding your online profile. Just as with any content driven marketing tool, it is important to give appropriate time and consideration to the process by which you will select your topics and the tone of voice you will use to express yourself in the blog. One of the first and most important lessons to learn is that a blog is not a selling tool – it is a communications vehicle and the content should reflect the two-way nature of a conversation, not the single-direction model of a brochure.
Most good blogs are not overtly promotional, but rather focus on topics and the larger issues of importance to the blog’s readership. Thus, rather than talking directly about your agency and specials that are available, most travel agency blogs should delve into destinations, logistics, tips and ideas related to travel. You want the content you choose to be compelling and to be both interesting and valuable to the reader. Tailor your content so that visitors will benefit from their reading. By providing useful information, you help to ensure readers will return at a later date. A good way to do so is to create a serial…a series of articles on a given theme spread out over a regular publication cycle that will provide new information each day on the topic.
Your research oriented reading should be a source for your articles. Spend some time each day combing travel websites and newspaper travel sections for ideas. Keep a file of ideas from which you can draw when needed. TRO’s own Travelgram is an excellent resource for topic ideas. You can use articles from other sources either as inspiration for your own content, or you can comment on your reading, for example, on trends you see developing from your survey of sources. If you have a niche market, a blog is a great opportunity to showcase your expertise. Giving clients inside tips on cabin selection, theme-park navigation, safari basics are all ways of capturing their attention and demonstrating the value-add of your blog’s content.
In general, your tone should be light and fun. After all, you are blogging about travel, not life insurance! You readers want to know about travel – how it works, how to travel better and how to make the most out of the travel opportunities they have. Demystify the process for them. Be their inside travel guru and they will appreciate your efforts. But keep the tone and voice authentic and allow for the type of commenting and two-way conversations that are inherent in blogs.
Naturally, the conversational aspect of a blog carries some risk. Most blogs will establish a set of comment policies to which readers must adhere. In general, indicate that comments are welcome and that it is “OK” to disagree. Equally important, however, is to establish up front that it is not “OK” to be disagreeable. Let readers know that you reserve the right to edit or not publish any comment and that emailing a comment is an acceptable way of commenting if they do not wish to publish directly to the blog pages. Request that the readers be polite in all instances and to address the issues raised in the articles, not the personality of any other commenter or author.
Remember that in the world of blogging, the comments and your replies to comments are as much a part of the content as the articles themselves. When readers comment, thank them for the comments and reply to them in an insightful and appreciative manner. Encourage a comfortable and safe environment for your readers to feel good about leaving comments.
TRO has produced two White Papers on blogging to get you started and you can obtain them by registering at www.Where2TravelNext.com. The first, Blogging for Travel Agencies, introduces how to establish a blog and is the source for these articles. The second, One Year of Content Ideas, give more than 52 ideas for articles. Need more? Every day TRO’s Travelgram is filled with articles you can use as inspiration. Subscribe to TRO to get your daily copy!
Create a sense of community on your blog and with a bit of proper promotion and luck you can grow your blog’s readership.
Tomorrow – Promoting your blog