Just Press Play: When to Launch a Travel Podcast

Are you addicted to podcasts? Welcome to the club. And if you’re not—get ready, it’s inevitable. But how does this tune-in-and-tune-out medium relate to the rich and visual travel world? The truth is, they’re intertwined. Travel communicates compelling stories and narratives, and podcasts are another way to serve that purpose. While certain travel stories make wonderful magazine features, or some are best expressed through tweets, other stories are ideally told through audio. Serial changed the game with its high-level production and Hollywood status talent, and now travel podcasts are a burgeoning genre for both brands and bloggers. While there’s still time to get in on the ground floor, you must first consider whether the opportunity is right for your brand.

Why They’re So Important

Podcasts are increasingly popular because they’re one of the few entertainment mediums that actually provide consumers with more time. You can listen on Spotify, iTunes, or a podcast app while in the car, running errands, or cleaning the house. (On Travel Curator, we rounded up five podcasts you must subscribe to immediately.)

Opportunity for Your Brand 

Research shows that 51% of the US population has listened to a podcast – most of which is made up of loyal, affluent and educated consumers. These listeners are dialed IN to the next wave of media, and listen to an average of 7 shows per week. Impressive stats for sure, but where is the opportunity for brands to get in front of that untapped 49% of the population? Much like the early days of Instagram, podcasts are welcoming primetime audience growth, and the smart ones are molding their content to fit that growing target demographic. In our industry, popular travel podcasts vary in style and scope: Airplane Mode, created by luggage start-up, Away, explores what life experiences drive people to travel, while Travelogue by Conde Nast Traveler offers hotel recommendations and seasonal guides by city or state. You also have travel podcasts like Travel Tales, which showcases the highs and lows of travel through comedy. So, where does your brand fit in? My first piece of advice is to pay attention to the way a podcast speaks to their audience and take note of the advertisers they are aligning themselves with. Are they super luxe? Or more attainable? Does your brand need its own podcast? Or does it make more sense to collaborate with a podcast that is established and has a dedicated audience that mirrors your target demo? The media landscape is oversaturated enough as it is, and many brands feared that social media would take over the way we consume traditional media. Could it be that podcasts are taking reign? We all know that lightening never strikes twice, but this might be the exception. 

When You Shouldn’t Start a Podcast

Every podcast takes planning and development. Consider whether this story could be told in another medium. Would guests prefer to see on-property visuals through video? Or can it be told in a written narrative? If your own podcast doesn’t seem like the right fit, you can still jump on this trend by hosting a travel podcast on property (just make sure you have the right equipment) or by pitching yourself as an expert guest to an existing podcast.

When You Should Start a Podcast

First, consider the story you want to tell. (Yes, there must be a story!) If your brand has experts who can dig into the layers of a destination and offer something unique that touches on the ethos of your brand, that’s a great start. Podcasts aren’t about promoting products; they must provide something of value. As Rachel Horowitz, The Brandman Agency’s Digital Content and Social Media Manager says, you should only start a podcast “if you have something to say.”

Prepare to Launch

Just like every good TV show has compelling characters, every good podcast must have compelling experts. Maybe your property has a chef with an interesting background or a longtime concierge who can spin a good yarn. Find experts, then hone a theme while considering your ideal audience demographic and ways to expand brand awareness. A podcast isn’t a one-off—before starting, you should plot out five to ten episodes to create a consistent release schedule and cohesive season. “Ten episodes seems like a lot, but people love binge consumption,” says Rachel. “You need to have a plan and think of it like an editorial calendar so you’re not setting up a makeshift recording studio every couple of weeks.”

The Nitty-Gritty

To start a podcast you’ll need a Zoom recorder, a few microphones, and an audio mixer if you want to record two people at once. Audio editing programs range from the free, introductory-level GarageBand to the more advanced Logic Pro. You also need a quiet space—this means no loud A.C. units or dinging elevators. Finally, you must have an experienced team dedicated to the craft who have the technical knowledge necessary to make the endeavor sound polished.

The Style

There are a few main types of podcasts: Narrative, solo commentary, or one-on-one, in which two people chat or interview. The key to getting into podcasts, says Rachel, is to find what type of structure resonates with you. Are you more into a conversational flow between two people than you are a solo narrative? Find what resonates with you. The podcasters that do it well are usually not as “off-the-cuff” as you think. Many hours of preparation and rehearsals go into making a podcast seem effortless. The best kind of podcast, in my opinion, says Rachel, is one that engages two well-versed, charismatic and interesting individuals who feed off of one another’s energy and have great banter. 

The Follow-Through

A podcast launch should come with a killer marketing plan, whether that’s a newsletter campaign or promotion through other channels. Success is gauged by downloads, listens, and drop-offs. But hotels can measure ROI by offering subscribers a promotional code for direct bookings, or using bit.ly links to see how much traffic is directed to their website. Podcasts also act as a marketing tool to increase brand sentiment. One key question to ask yourself is: “Will the listener come away with something they can share with their friends?”

How We Can Help

The Brandman Agency’s digital arm can prepare you to be a guest on a popular podcast, or develop, launch, and maintain a compelling podcast that’s on brand. Both start with a conversation about your own unique selling points and story. Are you ready? Maybe 2018 is your year to press record.

Cheers, Melanie