The profession of travel blogging is apparently on the rise (defined as those who find employment through writing travel blogs).
There is always plenty of discussion (and a plea to stop) about commercialising the craft, but in order to make money there are two ways these bloggers can evolve:
- Solve consumer problems.
- Solve travel industry problems.
People pay to have their problems addressed and problems are a solid basis to form a business or maintain employment.
As a distant cousin of travel bloggers, travel startup entrepreneurs constantly strive to understand problems and so-called pain-points (with ideas and innovation being the by-product of understanding the problem with sufficient skill that they spot a commercially viable solution).
For travel bloggers it should be no different.
Here are two travel industry problems that travel bloggers could address in order to earn their keep:
1. Destination data
The future of travel websites (and services) revolves around data and building tools to understand this data and present appropriate versions of it to consumers.
Product data tends to be openly available in API form. Even review and other data is nicely standardised and able to built into a global travel system at scale without too much fuss.
But destination articles and data is hard to source that matches the brand criteria of the travel website (a luxury tour operator would have quite different demands to a backpacker website).
At this point travel bloggers and writers are often brought in, sub-contract, to research and write a handul of freetext articles about that destination.
So far so good. But with personalisation coming (increasing demands on data) and global websites wanting to give equal prominence to all destinations (requiring content from everywhere, globally, within a short timeframe) this can’t be serviced by just a few travel writers.
I want to see a marketplace system where, as a content consumer (a travel website), I say I want to know the top five spas in 100 destinations….. and 100 travel bloggers, each knowledgeable about their own specialist region, can answer that question for a small fee.
Quickly, I have sourced a unique database of 500 spas that I own the IP to, written up in my brand style specification, based around what I need for my new service.
Travel bloggers and writers will need to become masters of destination information, not masters of prose (or link-building). There is money to be made there, but only if they collaborate via a central marketplace such as my idea above.
2. Multi-day itinerary based tours
Specialist tour operators are crying out for help promoting their products (and tailor-made tour booking services). Many of these tours are booked at 100-130 days prior to travel.
My hypothesis is that travel blogs are often read during the consumer research phase, which happens to correspond to the same time-frame that specialist tours are booked (versus, say, hotels or flights, which tend to be booked at a month or so prior to travel).
When you have travel bloggers writing¬†inspiration¬†oriented content and failing to monetise it, and you have specialist tour operators crying out for more help promoting their services, and both active in same 100-130 days prior to travel phase, then someone has to be able to create a business out of this to the benefit of both sides.
There you go, travel bloggers, two clear opportunities for new startups to focus on monetising the skills and experience of the new travel blogging industry by providing solutions to the travel industry (rather than consumers).
Any other ideas I have missed?