Travel Curation: creating tourism information for curious travelers through committed hosts
Content overflow in the web and social media heavily impacts tourism and travel: marketing content swamps all media channels. Responsible, human curation is the best way to maintain the internet’s specific value for tourism information and to offer travelers valuable insights, tips and cultural knowledge. And for this we need the right tools. I created one — Travel Curation — and would like to introduce it in this post, explaining how both tourism marketers and travelers could reap the benefits of content curation.
Digital content curation has become trendy since about March 2011 when Steven Rosenbaum issued his book Curation Nation. It is about coping with an ever growing bulk of content on the Web and, what’s more, about discovering how to retrieve value from this content. Remember Eric Schmidt’s words that the Internet is “becoming a ‘cesspool’ where false information thrives” — that was back in 2008! By 2020, according to one of these numerous estimates on internet growth, there will be roughly six internets worth of content online. If you do the maths, assuming exponential growth, this corresponds to a 3% growth rate per month.
In the travel and tourism industries the internet has played an important role from the very beginning, by obvious reasons:
- Presentation advertising — hotel websites, travel sites, DMCs’ tourism advertising
- Communication — Email inquiries to hotels, internet booking engines
- Travel and tourism news, regional information, private travel blogs in competition with news media and online marketing
- All this was increasingly ampified over the years by new online media: Video (YouTube, Vimeo, additionally vine), geo-referenced technologies (Google Maps, Earth, Street View, Photo Sphere), augmented reality, mobile apps and more
- Social media are obviously very much travel related, too
There is no other industry for which the impact of internet technoligies and the new media trends is as strong as for travel and tourism. Consequently — the flip side — the amount of spammy content (content solely generated for marketing and SEO, multiple reuse of content, automatted content aggregation) is particularly high for all things travel. And hence the proportion of original and valuable content is particularly small which makes it hard to find.
The solution: content curation — both for tourism professionals and for travelers, as outlined here on slid.es. There are many generic curation sites and curation services around since 2011 when trend began, such as Storify, scoop.it, Pinterest, to name a view of many (say 100+) — it’s always about cutting through the clutter and Robin Good, a thought leader on content curation, provides Great Examples on Pinterest. In a sense, social media are curation tools, too. For instance, Twitter — in particular with the use of hashtags, lists and likes. In general, all social media can be used for content curation if they have structuring options additional to their timeline, such as categories, pages, tags, favourites, groups, lists etc.
However, the use of these features can still be automatted and thus be mere aggregation in contrast to curation. What is content curation about? A famous and early reference is Beth Kanter’s Content Curation Primer.
I have been running an online marketing agency for tourism for many years and was among the first in Germany to embrace curation for business (for instance, my Pinterest account is /curation, but with emphasis on travel etc.). One of my early insights was that curation as a method has to “customized” for a specific business to get things moving. For instance, Twitter as a social channel is fine for travel marketing as you can reach a broad audience, but as a curation tool for travel it does not move much. So, what helps? In order to leverage the power of curation, I would like to propose these four components:
- A dedicated website for travel / tourism and the curation idea — sincemost of the traffic still comes from search
- A curation tool that helps both tourism advertisers and tourists. Tourism is ideal for merging content of providers and consumers.
- Rich and effective publishing options enabling users to effortlessly publish valuable content and merge their own with curated content.
- Good exposure to social media channels
Travel Curation is a part of my German travel site Urlaub99Euro, initially specialiced on vacation in Germany and since recently (end of2015) exhibiting tourism content from all over the world with the possibilty for anyone to add their own piece of content. There are 360+ topics so far:
- Countries, cites, destinations, tours like Hiking Trails
- How to travel, for instance Adventure Travel or Accessible Travel
- Special interests, for instance Architectural Inspiration
- Advice and tips, for instance on the page Shoestring Budget
- Germany-related pages such as Best Things to Do in Germany
- Tourism related topics like environmental protection
- Funny things like Flight Attendant Videos
On each topic page, click on All Travel Topics for instant search.
Several media sections can be used within a single post
- Each post can have up to 7 URLs, displayed with a preview image plus, with a sub header for each — plus a normal link with URL and anchor text. This option is suited for all web page URLs as well as for YouTube Links (as an alternative to embed code)(example with three YouTube videos in one post: Formentera) oder for Tweets (better than with embed)(example).
- Additionally, an embed code (only iframe, no scripts) can be added, for instance a video (example: Paris, YouTube), a Google map (example: Erding Spa, in German) or Google Photo Sphere (example: Cathedral of Palma), Podcasts (example: The Daily Travel Podcast), SlideShare (example: Turkey, in German) or Slid.es (example: a travel photography tutorial)
- A full-width image (by URL)(example: the famous Halong Bay)
- A long-form description, plus a quote (indented display), plus a footer
In summary, these features, in particular the multiple URLs plus embed, let you create a little brochure on a travel related subject (example: Turkey, in German, this is one single post on Turkish Rivera!) instead of just a post around a single URL such as in most other curation media. Or, you can add the author profile URL to a video (example: a fascinating TED Talk on unseen footage, untamed nature)
This service is free for all you want to curate and share travel content. Want to try? Get an author key here. Then go to any topic page and enter the author key together with your travel information. Content can be edited later, that is, it always remains under the author’s control.
Even faster, just to test: go to this incognito entry form and post just a URL and a title. Then, on the next slide your post will be displayed. Incognito post are all shown on the Curation Test Page.
The last of above reqirements is social media exposure. All posts are automatically tweeted on three Twitter accounts (23.000+) and some on my LinkedIn account (4.500). Some stats and results are shown here.
Now, what’s the impact of all this on marketing?
First: marketing authors get a rich media page for each post with multiple linking possibilities. Posts are automatically tweeted, thus traffic on all linked pages is generated.
Second: hotels and hosts can provide travelers with more valuable information than mere hotel facts they find on the large booking sites. And they can easily keep this interesting tourism content updated.
Third: both travelers and travel bloggers have additional possibilities to find and to share content and build curated pages with additional or in-depth information on a topic.
More on this slid.es deck on Travel Curation: