Adam Hodge is a digital content editor at Goway Travel, a travel provider that has been in operation since 1970. Adam earned a degree in Business Commerce from Ryerson University in 2008 and has been with Goway since 2010, both as an agent and as a member of marketing personnel. We spoke to Adam about what it takes to create social media content of the highest caliber in the travel industry.
TRO Smith (TRO): Tell us a bit about yourself and your role as a digital content editor. What are a few of your daily duties?
Adam Hodge (AH): Don’t quote me on this…but most mornings the first thing I do is log onto Facebook! Constantly checking our company social networks for new activity is both a distraction and a reality of working in social media. I also spend a lot of time editing and coordinating our email newsletters, which we send to both travel agents and travelers, and it’s this content that I’ll share on our social networks. That said, we’ve gone against what seems to be the “textbook social media approach” of only using branded content over social media – we think it’s better to be less formal and use 3rd party content all the time, purely because it’s interesting to our audience. The added benefit is proving to your audience (followers) that you’re not just using social networks for your company gain, but for your audience’s enjoyment.
TRO: Marketing is a relatively universal trade. What specifically drew you to work in the travel industry?
AH: Goway Travel is a family business, and I confess I was lucky enough to be born into this travel family-business. Travel was a regular part of growing up for me, but it stuck in a big way, and now it’s all I talk about. I literally could not imagine working in another industry. But where marketing and working in the travel industry meet is where I enjoy spending my most time: it’s inspirational and constantly changing.
TRO: You’ve been very well educated in marketing and travel practices. What competitive advantages has this provided for Goway?
AH: We always try to communicate our own passion for travel and our staff’ expertise in arranging travel to exotic destinations within marketing and social media. Both travel agents and travelers who book with us want to know that the company they’re booking with is both an expert in what they do and passionately love doing it too.
TRO: During the process of creating digital content, what’s your main goal? What’s the most important message a consumer can take away from your work?
AH: Our most important goal would be to be remembered as the company that can arrange your dream trip to an exotic destination, even if that trip won’t happen for 5 years. You might dream of one day seeing the Taj Mahal at sunrise… and when you’re ready, we will be too!
TRO: In what ways do you believe that social media marketing directly benefits Goway and other travel enterprises in general?
AH: Buying travel can be transactional, but we’d all prefer it to be a relationship-based business. Social media is a great channel to build and strengthen relationships.
TRO: What do you enjoy most about working in the travel industry? What unique career opportunities has Goway provided for you?
AH: This may sound cheesy, but travel industry people are just my kind of people! We’re all lifelong lovers of travel and chose an industry where we could make travel a part of our daily lives, whether you’re a travel agent or otherwise. I’ve been lucky enough to lead FAM trips, design travel websites, and make travel bookings, and it’s all reassured me that I’m in the right industry.
TRO: In your experience, what sort of marketing practices are paramount in the travel industry that perhaps aren’t as important in other trades?
AH: It’s sometimes difficult to not get hung up on how amazing the product is, the destination, and how incredible the sites are when the actual message is trying to convince someone that they should book through us. Travel industry marketers shouldn’t just distribute nice pictures, but add knowledge, information, and tips to prove your company’s expertise which you couldn’t hear anywhere else.
TRO: What digital projects does Goway Travel have planned for the future? Any recent success stories you’d like to share?
AH: I’m very excited to point out the redesigned consumer-style blog: Globetrotting (blog.goway.com/globetrotting/), which plays up on our print magazine of the same name which we’ve sent to past clients for over a decade. Our previous one was a basic (boring) blog design. This is a new, custom-designed blog which I hope is both inspiring and impressive, and conveys our passion and expert knowledge, while feeling like a magazine. We hope travel agents can use content here on their own social networks to inspire their own clients. Last year we re-did our website, which was a huge task as it’s over 10,000 pages. Next year we’re working at improving our experience for travel agents using our travel agent portal: GowayAgent.com.
TRO: Creating digital content can be tricky for beginners. With the experience and knowledge you have now, what’s one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you first started?
AH: Negative comments happen. Think of them simply as an opportunity to answer professionally.