To Tap Digital Content, Travel Marketers Can Own It or Earn It.
By David Juman ~ PhoCusWright
Wednesday, 11th September 2013
There was a time when establishing a successful online presence simply meant creating and maintaining a website, a mobile application and a Facebook page.

While websites and mobile apps remain vital channels through which consumers learn about travel brands, they hardly represent the full spectrum of what's important in digital marketing today.

According to a recent PhoCusWright article, Digital Content: The Future of Travel Marketing, travel companies' marketing efforts are being profoundly influenced by new forms of content, some of which cannot be directly controlled by the brands themselves.

"It's no longer enough for travel marketers just to have a great website or mobile app, or to promote their products and services through different forms of online advertising," said Bob Offutt, senior technology analyst. "Digital tools and technologies have turned certain aspects of travel marketing upside-down, and travel brands need to be aware of how to manage and leverage these tools to their advantage."

From the standpoint of travel marketing, content has traditionally fallen into one of two channels: Owned or Paid. The Owned channel includes company-controlled properties such as its own travel retail outlet, website or mobile app. Paid marketing consists of content or messaging that a brand pays to distribute through secondary channels such as television or print ads, direct mail, online banner advertising and more. Though different in some key respects, the Owned and Paid channels are similar in that in each case, the brand creates and controls the content.

Now consider some very different forms of content that may be centered around a travel brand: an excruciating lost luggage story on Facebook, a well-timed customer service shout-out via Twitter, or an Instagram photo of a dirty hotel room. Enter the scary world of Earned marketing, where businesses cede control of content to their customers and others in the marketplace.

With a multitude of instant digital content creation tools at their disposal, travelers are using social media to speak their minds and share their experiences. Collectively, these bits of Earned content form a travel brand's online reputation, which can be as influential as the traditional Owned or Paid channels. And while companies may not be able to directly control the Earned channel, if they're smart, there's much they can do to leverage it to their benefit.

4Hoteliers Image LibraryDigital Content: The Future of Travel Marketing tracks the dramatic changes that continually prompt travel companies to re-evaluate how they attract and engage with their customers.

The article explores ways in which the digital revolution has transformed how marketing content is created, where it originates and how it's delivered. Most importantly, what does it all means for travel marketers today? (Quick answer: it's a Brave New World, but ripe with opportunity for those who are committed and prepared to embrace it.)
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