Vacation-rental booking service FlipKey uses content marketing to provide travelers and rental homeowners with information and tips to enhance their experiences. From exploring the Oregon coast by bike to environmentally friendly cleaning tips for rental homeowners, The FlipKey Blog offers practical advice in popular editorial formats.
Heading up FlipKey’s content marketing efforts is Dan Weisman, who talks with us about his approach to travel blogging, keys to success, and the challenges of producing quality content.
TCM: How did FlipKey launch its content marketing initiative?
DW: The blog was part of FlipKey from the start, but it wasn’t used as much as it is now. So, we started with the blog and then looked into Facebook, Twitter, and other places. We really looked for the places where people are interacting and sharing information.
TCM: What are your responsibilities at FlipKey?
DW: My role combines SEO and business development, as well as being content marketing manager. As well as updating our blog, I submit content for other sites, run our social media, and take on the PR side of things.
TCM: How many blog posts do you produce per month?
DW: We update the blog with a new post every weekday. This is our standard that we’re aiming for to keep it fresh and to keep new content posted so people will keep coming back.
TCM: How do you choose topics?
DW: It really comes down to what people are talking about. We look at how customers use the site and what kind of questions our customer-care team gets. We also look at what destinations people are talking about on social media.
TCM: Which topic has been your favorite to cover so far?
DW: Sometimes we write about the local food in different places, and we’ll include recipes in those posts. We also write about eco-friendly travel sometimes, and those posts get very positive feedback from travelers who are interested in green vacations, and also from vacation homeowners.
TCM: What are your objectives, and how do you measure them?
DW: We mostly look at how many readers our blog gets. It’s really a long-term thing. We just want to focus on spreading the word and getting more readers for our content.
TCM: How does content marketing make a difference to your customers’ experiences?
DW: For a lot of people, the first way they hear of FlipKey is through content. They might see something we posted on a travel blog, or a friend might share something with them on Facebook, or they might do a Google search on vacations and see a related post on our blog. Reaching new customers is important, and this is one of the best ways we can do that.
We also want to use content to stay engaged with our current customers. We want the content to provide a voice to the organization so customers can interact with us through blog comments or on Facebook and Twitter, and we can talk back to them and create a conversation.
TCM: What lessons have you learned from content marketing?
DW: The biggest is that you need that perfect storm of great content in the right place and people talking about it. Every blog post becomes almost like a mini marketing campaign. It’s hard to get right though, because sometimes what you think is a great idea doesn’t interest people.
The other thing is that you need the right people writing for you. If people are interested in what they’re writing and have a personal connection with the topic, they’ll make the content worth reading.
TCM: What are your keys to success?
DW: The biggest has been to develop good relationships—with other sites, writers, the people you work with, and customers. Staying on top of connections has been really important.
TCM: What are your biggest challenges?
DW: The biggest is having a lot of good content. I had to realize that you can’t do that by yourself. Because we are such a small company, we have a small team, so meeting the demand for quality content is the biggest challenge.
TCM: What goals do you have for your company’s future content marketing efforts?
DW: I would like to continue to grow the blog. We really want to be a great travel resource, even for people not interested in vacation rentals.
TCM: What do you think the future holds for content marketing in general?
DW: I think there’s still a big place for traditional media, but I think content marketing is really replacing what PR professionals do currently. More journalists are looking to blogs to get the scoop, and I think content marketers are taking on the old PR role of finding good stories and getting them published. The aim is to get great stories to reach the right people.