The untapped opportunity for travel bloggers to monetize knowledge
It’s no real secret the goal for the majority of travel bloggers is to make money so they can travel more often and for longer periods of time.
It’s also no real secret that travel bloggers are among the most knowledgeable travelers in the entire world.
Turns out you learn a thing or two constantly traveling for months (or years) on end, writing about the journey, and staying in locations for extended periods of time to really get a feel for a particular area.
It also doesn’t hurt that travel bloggers often visit the same spots multiple times.
I am subscribed to a fair number of travel blogs which I have tagged as “backpacking” in Feedly, a process that began back in 2010 while I was in Santorini for the summer getting acquainted with the travel vertical (following five years in real estate at Zillow).
I’d like to think I have many of the higher quality travel blogs in my category. Browsing through them is a task I do every few days to see if anything catches me eye. Yet, when I truly need to find something specific, it’s sorely lacking usefulness.
Here are topics of a recent string of nine posts…
- Kipling Wheeled Backpack
- Photo of the Week – Scotland
- Natural sinkholes
- Gear of the week
- Six things to do in Tokyo when it’s not raining
- Travel porn
- Six ways to get on New York’s sh*t list.
It’s not organized in any way other than chronologically. All that great content, buried SOMEWHERE in my feedreader — is unfindable when in a specific research scenario.
Let’s say I want to start planning a trip to Croatia. Where do I start to find information from sources I trust? Which bloggers are knowledgeable about Croatia? How do I find what those people have written?
In short, I have no idea.
Santiago, Chile? Nope, not a clue where to start that search either other than likely head to my friend Leslie’s blog — since I know she has lived down there for several years.
Cape Town, South Africa? You guessed it. No idea.
You see where I’m going with this? My only option is to go do individual searches on each travel blog I subscribe to. But of course that is a messy, long process that I’m not going to do.
What do I do instead? Yup, you guessed it: Google.
The travel blogger opportunity
Another not so big secret is that travel bloggers largely have an audience of travel bloggers. Which of course doesn’t pay the bills since the majority of that audience has more time than money.
In order to monetize their vast travel expertise, travel bloggers need to figure out is how to reach travelers with more money than time — at the right time, in the right context.
Those spending money for travel advice and planning are families, business travelers, and honeymooners. Another opportunity to provide paid advice would be to those actually moving to a new city or country.
If you are a travel blogger trying to figure out monetization for your travel advice — I can tell you, without a doubt, that you will not win by yourself. The big sites play at a completely different scale than you can.
A feedreader, centered around location. Give those planning a trip a simple way to browse trusted content specific to Cape Town, Croatia, Beijing or any of the other thousands of destinations around the globe.
Band together with an offering that delivers trusted travel content to an audience with more money than time.
The feeds in my reader, are already deemed trusted by me, so either that needs to be the hook or a collection of travel bloggers, perhaps the Professional Travel Bloggerz, could serve as the gatekeeper to ensure only trusted content gets into the experience.
Give readers the opportunity to quickly pay you for private Q&A or a phone/skype consultation related to the destinations you are knowledgeable about.
Hint: It’s a mobile world in need of a mobile solution
There are many startups trying to connect these two segments; among them Voyando, Think Places, and Outtrippin. If I didn’t believe there was an opportunity in that space, I wouldn’t have worked on a real time travel advice solution at a Startup Weekend just over a year ago.
Ultimately, we never pursued that idea further due to the infrequency of people being in the travel planning scenario, and no great way to solve the trust factor needed for people to take the leap to pay for time with a travel expert.
I strongly believe someone will figure out a way to solve both sides of the paid travel advice marketplace. Who that ends up being, and the right hook to get people to use it, remains to be seen.
NB: This is a viewpoint by Drew Meyers, founder of Oh Hey World
NB2: Man laptop ocean image via Shutterstock.