Sometimes, a person just needs to get away … whether that means taking a train, plane or automobile to a new destination for some rest and relaxation.
No wonder the international tourism market is booming: In 2014, the industry generated $1.5 trillion in market export earnings. A growing number of consumers are also making their travel plans on smartphones and tablets — a trend that’s only going to continue to grow over the next five years. By 2017, more than 30% of online travel bookings will be transacted via mobile devices, according to a Euromonitor forecast.
In order to attract and engage consumers that have a case of wanderlust, travel and hospitality businesses need to create compelling digital experiences that reflect their brands, locations and, of course, their target customers. Travel microsites are powerful, yet often untapped, channels that help brands tell their unique stories, and that serve as powerful hubs for consumers to get inspired.
Conrad Hotels & Resorts is a great example of a notable brand pushing the limits with its “Stay Inspired” microsite. The core tagline of the site is “Conrad 1/3/5.” Intriguing, right? The brand explains further that the goal is to curate a list of quintessential experiences in top cities based on the hours visitors have in their day: one hour, three hours or five hours.
The site is then broken down by cities that have Conrad Hotel properties, such as Beijing, London, Miami, New York and Tokyo, so visitors can further search based on their wants and needs. Instead of just focusing on their rooms and amenities, the brand highlights all of the fun things visitors can do to get the most out of their stay.
Beyond the great concept and catchy tagline, the site is brimming with best practices that any brand can apply to create a streamlined and entertaining microsite.
1. Pique Visitors’ Interests
People say not to judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to microsites, making a great first impression is vital. As we noted earlier, a compelling tagline or theme is key to the overall success of your campaign or initiative. Your messaging needs to not only align with your brand story but with your target customers as well. Once this foundation is in place, you can design your microsite using compelling photographs created in-house or taken by your visitors. This is a surefire way to entice consumers and encourage them to learn more.
2. Help Them Plan Their Journey
Colorful photographs and a stellar layout may capture attention, but consumers crave educational and inspirational content more than ever. Travelers want to learn about the must-attend events, top museums, restaurants, shopping centers and other attractions in the city they plan to visit. Rather than making them scrounge through the web to build their itinerary, use your microsite as a hub for relevant information.
Take Four Seasons, for example. On its microsite, “Four Seasons Magazine,” the brand has a page for each city in which it has a presence. There are engaging photographs of the must-see attractions. Each page includes interesting city experiences, as well as recommendations from the concierge, which feel a bit more personal.
3. Inspire and Delight
Branded, educational content has its place in a microsite, but this information won’t resonate without a great story. Think about William Shatner’s Priceline Negotiator or Hotels.com’s Captain Obvious: What do they have in common? A lead character and an ongoing storyline that’s educational, humorous and inspires viewers to learn more about the brand. Nearly half (49%) of consumers 18-24 years old say brand stories are most likely to get them interested in a travel brand, according to Headstream. As you design and build your microsite, consider the story you want to tell. What’s most important to your target customer? What information are they looking for? How can you present this information in a compelling way that’s organized and easy to relate to?
4. Share Stories from Other Travelers
Don’t have the time, manpower or budget to create a character or complex storyline that spans across promotional channels? Sometimes the most impactful story involves your guests or individuals from local communities. In fact, the same Headstream report noted that 66% of people believe the best stories are about regular people.
Help your site visitors see your locations and destinations through your customers’ eyes by encouraging social sharing. Prompt your fans to share photos with you on Instagram on Twitter using a designated hashtag. With the proper approvals, you can cross-post and share this valuable content across your digital properties — even on your microsite.
5. Spread the Word Across Channels
Although you definitely want to draw visitors to your microsite and make it a go-to destination for travel enthusiasts, think of ways you can reuse and share this content on other channels, such as social media and email. This will help you tell a consistent story that leads your followers back to your microsite.
It’s About the Journey, Not the Destination
Planning a vacation or business trip can be daunting for consumers. Don’t make the process even more of a headache. Use a microsite to tell a great story and share powerful content to help your customers plan an experience they will never forget. Tapping into this channel is just one of the many ways to inspire the visual consumers of today. Download “The Complete Guide to Visual Commerce” to learn more about innovative tactics to help you drive brand advocacy, relevance and revenue.