Hyperlocalization and the Travel Market: New Turns on Roads Most Traveled

You might think it’s a small world out there, but think again.

Written by PACIFIC The Discovery Group
on 05.26.18

If you want to lead the travel market, a short summary of the top 5 major landmarks won’t give you the results you’re looking for. Today’s savvy traveler wants to cover the globe one neighborhood legend at a time. Enter hyperlocal content.

Hyperlocal content appeals to the audience’s values based on their location and community. We’ve been asking “How do we sell this product to these people, with this culture?” for centuries, and answering that question stirs up a few of its own inquiries. This approach to travel marketing brings together two perspectives: The soon-to-be jetsetters and the local communities they’re about to encounter while traveling. Creating successful SEO content with this dual awareness can get as sticky as double-sided tape, so hyperlocal travel writers need these guiding questions:

Question 1. Who is my target demographic?

When I write a page intended to inspire people to book hotels in a particular destination, I’m not just writing about what I want to see. If that were the case, every page would link to swimming with pigs in the Bahamas. With a clearly defined demographic, the client is able to direct their ads and measure their success more precisely. Content that compels me in San Diego, California, to click “Book Now” on a vacation package will be quite different from content that gets the same conversions from a farmer in the Midwest.

SEO managers and content writers make many of their decisions based on demographic statistics and cultural stereotypes, but we have to start somewhere. Statistics give us numbers and stereotypes offer blanket statements. Our job is to try to figure out why the numbers add up like they do. We constantly ask, “What’s their motivation?” and when we get that right, everyone wins.

Question 2. What would compel my desired demographic to travel to this specific place?

When it comes to SEO conversions (like bookings and sales), the more insightful and distinct content, the more the search engine gods will bestow their blessings, and the more shareable the content will be. While the concept of unique content is still subjective, Rand Fishkin at the Moz Blog offers some helpful guidelines. Uniquely valuable content:

  • Provides information you can’t find anywhere else: “You want your visitor to have experience of, “Wow, without this site I never would have found the answers I sought.” It’s not that, ‘Oh, this sentence is unique to all the other sentences that have been written about this topic.” It’s, “Ah-ha this information was never available until now.’”
  • Presented with a tone of voice that stands out from the pack: “You’re trying to create in your visitors this impression of, ‘I’ve seen stuff about this before, but never in a way that emotionally resonated with me like this does.’”

In the travel market, content with unique search value practically begs to be hyperlocal. For example, I live in San Diego. I can go to the beach, visit seals, and try a new taco every weekend. Plus, the forecast is usually sunny and warm. So, how can a content marketer inspire Californians to travel to, say, Minneapolis, where winters are cold, summers are balmy, and tacos are served with ketchup? The key is to showcase what Californians are missing—what they would be willing to travel to do and see—and what we think they love. California is the land of starlets, startups, and sushirritos, while Minnesota is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” and “A Prairie Home Companion.” Invite the consumer to explore that difference. Remember, while novelty is exciting, common ground is a clincher, too. Example: Californians and Minnesotans will unite over their love of local craft beer, so describing beer fests and brewery districts is a plus.

But wait. That’s just the first layer of hyperlocal content. There’s more!

Question 3. How can this content say something specific and compelling about the road most traveled?

While many travel clients want to cover all their bases and include travel pages about the “big-hitters,” as well as small or up-and-coming locations, travelers tend to orient themselves to the nearest major landmark. So if I’m writing about London, or anywhere in England, I may need to mention a well-known sight, like Buckingham Palace, even though London has a lot more going on than the Changing of the Guard. It’s helpful to reference the queen’s digs, but how many of us need to be reminded when the palace was built and who lives there in order to book a flight to Heathrow? Not that many.

Instead of saying the same thing every other travel site says about Buckingham, a hyperlocal site offers a new perspective. What’s the best neighborhood for grabbing a pint after touring the palace? Or, better yet, what if you knew about a cool club or a historic house to visit in the same neighborhood? Reframe the old guard in a more approachable context.

Things to Consider

Writing specific, hyperlocal online content can be harder than it sounds, especially on static websites. Local favorites and small-time secrets change. We can’t go in to every piece of static content and refresh it when a particular bar closes or a hot neighborhood is no longer hot. Dynamic content is really having its day as hyperlocal perspectives are in high demand. Blogs and video/photo journals are part and parcel of marketing strategies, because they encourage change and freshness, and they are simple to update.

To stay modern and relevant, mainstream travel companies need to be detailed and dynamic. According to a 2013 study conducted by Charlton College of Business Center for Marketing Research, 34 percent of Fortune 500 companies were utilizing blogs and that number continues to grow. The folks at Forbes credit this growth to blogging’s ability to focus the demographic scope and present approachable and relatable ways to experience new information for a very specific consumer.

Is Hyperlocal a Bunch of Hype?

You may be thinking, is hyperlocal marketing a fleeting trend fueled by hype? From a content creation perspective, it looks like hyperlocal marketing is here to stay and to grow, thanks to the evolving presence of blogging communities, pin-pointed social media, and the app-assisted “gig economy” ala Uber and Airbnb, which focuses on hyperlocal travel culture.

Writers can’t keep an eye on trends without a lot of help, though, which brings us back, full circle, to the importance of utilizing and learning from SEO. Let’s be real. Google knows where I am at any given time, and I can search for “Thai food near me” even when I don’t know where “me” is. Based on what I’ve searched for in the spring, marketers can target me for ads that apply to my neighborhood come summertime. It knows things. With the help of very “knowledgeable” algorithms, content creators have the opportunity to dig deep, to look into the windows of the roads most traveled and to detour into narrow lanes (thanks, Google Street View), and invite travelers along for the ride.