Being Proactive with Travel Blogging in 2020
Being active in the blogging community is very important to us. We had a great discussion on Zoom with 20+ travel bloggers all about how we can be proactive with travel blogging while the events of 2020. We’ve never seen anything like this before, so being agile and keeping a positive outlook is more important now than ever before.
If you’re not a blogger, but you work in the travel industry, feel free to apply some of our discussion and thoughts towards your own travel business. I think that any form of pro-activity and identifying opportunities will help us all get through this crazy slump in the world economy.
What you'll find...
Big Take-aways about the Current State of Travel Blogging
From China to Italy and now in the USA, people are staying home, cancelling travel plans, and just not thinking about taking trips any time soon. This is having a huge impact on airlines, small and large hotels, tour operators, and us travel bloggers and influencers. We as content creators often have a proactive travel blogging mindset, but we’ve got to rearrange how we are proactive these days.
I’d love to say that we all were ready with contingency plans in the event the world stopped traveling, but none of us were. And I don’t think any of us could have predicted things would go this way from that first moment in December that we heard about pangolins spreading sickness overseas (now shown to not be the source). But here we are.
So, this is what we can say about being proactive with travel blogging through 2020 and what to expect as we look towards global recovery:
- EVERYONE IS BEING IMPACTED in every industry, and especially within each sector of travel. The severity of impact ranges, but we are all feeling it. I think the consensus was that in THIS MOMENT we cannot force or manipulate a recovery for our travel businesses but do need to look towards the day when the world is on the move again.
- WE CAN BE ACTIVE in getting ready for the world to bounce back. Yes, it’s going to take time and the landscape is going to be very different, but already there are some glimmers of hope for our line of work. We can all be working on our websites and listening to the growing chatter of what everyone is going to do as people become active again.
- CREATE NEW CONTENT but don’t expect performance as usual. And with that, creating new posts that are helpful in the moment (homeschooling, how to use travel credit, armchair travel, gear reviews…) is smart, but know that it’ll be a bumpy climb compared to what we’re used to.
- AVOID creating sensationalized content, as this too will pass and ad buyers are avoiding sensational content. This goes for travel companies as well. Don’t capitalize off of fear and click bait, because vulnerable people may make uninformed or rash decisions… including purchasing cheap travel when nobody knows when things will be back to normal.
- SELF CARE IS IMPORTANT. Do you need to look at your numbers everyday? Should you? Will participating in social media cause you stress or happiness? Do what’s right for YOU, because I think we’re all in alignment that right now nobody really has a solid handle and what’s good for the business.
- DISNEY PEOPLE BE CRAY. 😉 We had a solid chunk of discussion about Disney and how hardcore fans of the many types of Disney travel will probably not change their desired trips or routine when travel starts up again. Continuing to work on Disney content for the almost-guaranteed-to-recover-immediately Disney sector is a good idea.
What can I do right now?
Great question! I loved hearing the different takes on what everyone is doing. Here are some great ideas that may not have an impact now, but may put you ahead of the game when it’s time.
- Create useful content – this will never change Check out our article about How to Start a Blog for ideas of content creation within a niche.
- Build out product reviews and affiliate storefronts for when things are recovering
- Plan future travel and content based on how you think things will change. EXAMPLE: 90% of working peoples’ income is being impacted and travel may be the first budget bucket to get slashed as people catch up on bills. Road trips and budget travel may have a higher demand immediately following recovery.
- Develop pitches to be proactive. With 99% of travel campaigns with brands and destinations on hold, when things get rolling again, being ready with strong, researched ideas and being agile to accommodate those willing to invest in us again is going to be very important.
- Support the brands you’ve worked with or would like to work with. Retweet, engage with them on social, share their proactive and preventative messaging. Participating in their conversation in a genuine way may bring you to the front of their minds when it’s time to work with bloggers and influencers again.
How are we being proactive with travel blogging?
Well, we are for sure doing each of the things noted above. Proactive travel blogging is as much about creating meaningful content about what you’ve done or experienced as it is about helping people discover and plan for new things themselves. So here is what we’ve been working on and will continue to develop.
- Destination guides – we’ve been building pages for the destinations we have a lot of content, knowledge and experience with. So far we’ve completed guides for Florida, Montana, Saint Augustine, Mexico and soon we’ll have our California and Disney Travel guides completed.
- Chris and I have taken stock of all the products and services we use on the regular and are developing some awesome product guides. These aren’t just affiliate link dumps, but actual reviews and examples of how we use things to make travel and life easier.
- We’ve been planning both on our own and with the Best Western team for content trips we think will be interesting and helpful to others. We have some exciting things in the works for when travel resumes that include an incredible cross-country road trip, unique cultural experiences, and family friendly beach destinations LGBTQ families might not normally consider. I’m so excited!
- Before the 2020 events unfolded, we were asked by several destinations to come up with ideas for meaningful, compelling content. We’ve delivered on seven of those destinations so far and will finish research and development on three more before the end of the month. We’ll be ready to hit the ground running when travel resumes and brands/destinations have the budget and interest to work with bloggers and influencers again.
- As our travel blog traffic has fallen and everyone has stopped booking through our site, we’ve been watching the conversation online from travel industry leaders. As we’ve gotten emails about how hotels and destinations are handling the tourism standstill and health concerns, we’ve shared that with our followers. We’re going to do it even more, as we feel it’s important to support the big guys in this as much as the little guys
What can travel brands/destinations do during the travel halt?
It’s so easy to say “Well, you can do this, this and this…” but if there aren’t funds to make things happen, there’s no point in giving advice. Here are six things marketing and media folks in travel can do to be proactive while the travel industry is in limbo:
- review prior year campaigns, media stories, and event activations to evaluate what worked well in terms of online engagement, in-person participation, or room nights associated with specific moments/campaigns.
- research who can reach their potential visitors nearby *road trips and budget travel are going to be the most accessible options for many, so bloggers/influencers working in those niches are going to be a solid bet for captive audiences and reliable work. Local bloggers or within a car ride away may be the ticket to both a marketing budget-friendly campaign as well as a readership/following that can easily access your destination
- proactively engage travel bloggers and influencers to see if they’re a good fit when the time comes
- do your own SEO research so you can plan initiatives that will have a big impact on your brand/destination. As travel bloggers, to proactively do this before we partner for a content trip, but it’s also something a DMO/CVB can do to ensure their own work and campaigns they want to create will be worthwhile.
- follow your local vendors and businesses on social media. This is how you can truly gauge who will need your support as recovery sets in. This is also a great way to see who is making a positive impact RIGHT NOW that you can bolster by getting behind them in whatever ways you can.
- remind your community that you are there for them. Local populations tend to have two mindsets: “Ugh, tourists.” or “Yay! Tourists!” Being involved in the community online or in-person (once that’s not a health concern) is how you can build allies and work towards amazing future travel stories from your visitors.
Travel bloggers are AMAZING at consulting and research. Leverage travel bloggers who’ve had work cancelled on them to dig in and do your proactive work!
I know, this all seems like a lot and that with the current state of travel blogging in 2020 and the future of the travel industry in the balance, this might seem like a waste of energy, but it’s not. Being proactive instead of reactive will help us all stay afloat. A lot of these suggestions and activities do not create income in the moment, but that’s the current state.
Planning and researching doesn’t bring in a paycheck right now, but it makes the prep for a future paycheck easier when the time comes. Writing a new destination guide when nobody can hop on a plane isn’t going to generate traffic and ad revenue, but when people have saved up and are able to travel, Google will appreciate the well designed, well researched, well aged content.
Everyone, we can get through this and will be better for it. I know that things suck right now and no amount of creative development makes a paycheck appear out of thin air, but what else are we going to do in this moment? The travel industry is incredible on all sides. Let’s work together, support each other, and let’s be ready to soar when we can travel someday.