The travel industry has been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic. A combination of national restrictions and individual fear has lead to depleted tourist numbers and travel stalwarts vanishing altogether. For many who rely on tourism for their livelihoods, it’s been a genuine struggle.
From my own perspective as a travel blogger, I have thankfully only had to deal with a dramatic drop in visitor numbers to our website. While Here To Travel has, in many ways, grown significantly over the past year or two, it’s still very much a hobby (a hobby I run like a business) and not a source of income that I rely upon. I know it’s very different for many other bloggers, but this is the way it is for me.
How did I respond?
Long term strategy
The sudden drop in traffic in March led to me having to think about how best to respond. A consistent thought throughout the year has been that the travel industry will eventually bounce back. Wanderlust hasn’t gone away and for many, I dare say their wanderlust has never been more potent. People will want to travel again once it’s safe to do so, therefore I’ve been largely continuing to work through and publish a large backlog of content in readiness for the return of travel. It’s somewhat frustrating to publish new content without publicising it and knowing that it probably won’t see any visitors for a while, but this is about preparing for the future. I can only hope that the work I’m doing now will pay off at some point.
Short term strategy
While continuing to publish travel content has been more of a long term strategy, my short term strategy has been focused on diversification. This is a word I’ve seen used a lot over the past few months, with many bloggers having to diversify and move away from focusing on their niches. I’ve certainly noticed many travel bloggers moving further into the ‘lifestyle’ niche, notable particularly on their Instagram feeds.
Generally speaking, our niche is ‘less explored places’. While the long term strategy continues to focus on this niche, in the shorter term, we did have to shift our focus.
I initially sought quick wins. I created a series of Buzzfeed-style travel-themed quizzes in an effort to capitalise on the newfound interest in quizzing generally. All three have ranked highly in search engines and are still consistently big traffic draws. Converting those ‘quizzers’ into ‘readers’ has been difficult, but that’s just the way things are at the moment.
Knowing that there are still many out there who are keen to explore, we then pushed out a series of posts that focused on ‘traveling at home’.
Namely, those posts are;
- Great Everyday Mini Adventures you can Enjoy from Home
Split into multiple categories, this post contains stacks of free things to do whilst at home.
- 10 Brilliant FREE Virtual Tours: Travel the World from Home
This post focuses on plugging the gap where travel used to be, unearthing a series of free virtual tours.
- Travel Book Club: Our Top 10 Favourite Travel Books Right Now
We could all do with a bit of escapism right now. Spend you time at home wisely by getting stuck into a good book.
- 15 Fun, Creative & Immersive Online Travel Experiences with Airbnb
Airbnb’s online experiences have been a revelation during lockdown. In this post, we unearth some absolute gems
These posts have been fairly popular and we continue to keep them updated.
Also as part of my short term diversification, I revived our previously dormant sub-brand Everyday Mini Adventures and I’ve created a free newsletter on Substack with eyes on possibly offering a paid tier in the future. Take up is slow, but I’m still hopeful to make something of it. Another project I’ve started is this very website. I’ve written about why this website exists in another article.
While there are perhaps hints that an end to the pandemic is in sight, it’ll still be a while before the travel industry has fully recovered and people feel that it’s safe to travel. In the meantime, travel bloggers will continue to innovate and seek new ways to grow. For the time being, survival is very much the watch-word, but I’m hopeful that things will improve.