Blogging – How to be effective at commercial travel blogging

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Blogging as a travel blogger ( e.g. – this example is a lovely travel blogger example –  https://www.junglesinparis.com/stories/borneo-s-last-blowpipe-specialists) is an art form. The blogger sets out to showcase expertise and in this example this boutique travel journal, run by brothers Oliver and Darrell Hartman, uses beautiful photography and short film to tell inspiring stories of craftsmanship, tradition, and extreme natural environments.

But – it is not very commercial and if you are a commercial travel business you want to be able to blog effectively so that you drive more sales to your door. By all means take lots of inspiration from the expert travel bloggers ( and even ask some to do guest posts for you), but work out how you can also monetise this whole activity ( there are only a certain number of hours in the day to run your business).

Blogging for Commercial Reasons….

Blogging is a relatively easy thing to do and WordPress is probably the World’s default blogging platform ( and means you can have a commercial website with say Holiday Search and Live Offers on the same platform as your blog) and is an easy place to start).

For anyone serious about showing their expertise online in travel you absolutely must have a blog ( because how else will anyone know you are the expert?) NB: You don’t need to have a blog as part of your main commercial travel site. Inbound marketing techniques allow you to easily use other Blog style apps if you feel these are easier ( e.g. BonJournal) to write your blogs

You need to plan your blogging activity and just as importantly organise your blogging so that any writing that you do is easily bookmarked for your users/readers to find. Like any good reference manual a blog needs to have sections so that readers can easily look into any section and find what they are looking for.

Sections/Categories

When publishing a blog use ‘categories’ to bookmark what your blog is about. Choosing your categories is the MOST important element of designing the structure of your blog. If you have not planned your structure then it will show through ( and make it difficult to navigate the blog for users) and just using categories such as ‘Africa’ ‘food’ ‘safari’ and other generic words, while they might describe the overall content of each blog post, are not much use to the reader ( have these as topics instead).

Of course there are plenty of great travel bloggers out there, but if you run a commercial operation and are building a brand, mixing the ‘independent’ nature of a blog ( blogs should never be out and out sales commercial adverts) with your commercial activity on your website is difficult.

WHO GETS IT RIGHT? 

 

As you would expect from one of the global leaders in travel, Abercrombie & Kent have nailed this recently and so are an excellent example to look at before you plan your blog.

The new style and structured blog as of July 2015 is only available to view on http://abercrombiekent.com/blog/ not on the .co.uk version yet ( although the content is available in the UK)
The new style and structured blog as of July 2015 is only available to view on http://abercrombiekent.com/blog/ not on the .co.uk version yet ( although the content is available in the UK)
Inside the Ampersand – So what does A&K get absolutely right ( apart from the excellent content)
THE CATEGORIES….

Main Categories allow the user to navigate easily to those blogs that would interest them. A prominant welcome from the founder personalises the blog to the section for ‘guest blogs’ of clients helps this blog space feel very personal but also expert.</p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>TRIP LOGS - are a great way of putting professional writing of trips into a blog format. If you are a travel agent you will no doubt go on many 'Fam Trips' If you are a Tour Operator you will no doubt carry out lots of Fam Trips for agents and staff. Using these trips to document your destinations and then use them in the blog is an excellent way of getting deeper content, all branded as yours, onto you website in a non sales way.</p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Keeping things simple - there are only 7 categories. This limits the choices of readers to start reading a particular category ( and also reassures readers there are only 7 categories to get through so making the task of delving into the blogs without thinking there is a never ending set of categories to wade through, an easier and more accessible one)

Main Categories allow the user to navigate easily to those blogs that would interest them. A prominant welcome from the founder personalises the blog to the section for ‘guest blogs’ of clients helps this blog space feel very personal but also expert. TRIP LOGS – are a great way of putting professional writing of trips into a blog format. If you are a travel agent you will no doubt go on many ‘Fam Trips’ If you are a Tour Operator you will no doubt carry out lots of Fam Trips for agents and staff. Using these trips to document your destinations and then use them in the blog is an excellent way of getting deeper content, all branded as yours, onto you website in a non sales way. Keeping things simple – there are only 7 categories. This limits the choices of readers to start reading a particular category ( and also reassures readers there are only 7 categories to get through so making the task of delving into the blogs without thinking there is a never ending set of categories to wade through, an easier and more accessible one)
POPULAR TOPICS

A good blogging platform ( such as WordPress) already has functionality to be able to measure how many times each of your blogs is viewed and then have a neat widget on the page that shows what your readers are finding interesting. It often shows the most popular destinations or holidays. It's probably no surprise to see Africa on the A&K hot topics but Luxury Expedition Cruises might not have been something that a user would have looked at and the mere fact it shows as a hot topic will make someone navigate to it

A good blogging platform ( such as WordPress) already has functionality to be able to measure how many times each of your blogs is viewed and then have a neat widget on the page that shows what your readers are finding interesting. It often shows the most popular destinations or holidays. It’s probably no surprise to see Africa on the A&K hot topics but Luxury Expedition Cruises might not have been something that a user would have looked at and the mere fact it shows as a hot topic will make someone navigate to it
SEARCH

Including a search button enables a user to easily navigate your blog without relying on categories

Including a search button enables a user to easily navigate your blog without relying on categories
In Conclusion

 

Don’t copy A&K ( or anyone else for that matter) – But take inspiration.

1. Know who your ideal client is and write for them. If you can’t write consider note taking and hiring a writer from great online resources such as peopleperhour.com

2. Work out the categories that fit your business and best describe to your readers what content you have for them to read. Set your categories and make sure that you post your blogs to the right category.

3. Consider documenting all your FAM trips/Staff Trips in any media – BonJournal, Instagram, Pinterest and link to all these channels in your blog

4. Blog interesting stuff – post your blog on social media channels and email your database with the latest blog ( or round up if you blog more frequently than you email your database)

5. Ensure that there is a ‘Subscribe to Blog’ button so that you can keep readers automatically updated on new blogs

…. and enjoy building your subscriber list and future sales