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 24 percent of people listen to a podcast every month—and the majority of listeners are affluent and educated. Impressive stats, but that leaves plenty of room for audience growth, says Tanya Blum, The Brandman Agency’s Director of Digital Strategy: “It’s like Instagram in the early days. You still have the opportunity to grow a following.” Popular travel podcasts vary in style and scope: Airplane Mode, created by luggage start-up Away, explores the reasons for travel, while Travelogue, by Conde Nast Traveler, offers recommendations and seasonal guides. There’s also Travel Tales, which showcases highs and lows of travel through comedy.

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 Tanya says, you should only start a podcast “if you have something to say, can solve a problem or educate your community about something they didn’t already know.”

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 Tanya. “You need to have a plan 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 secret, says Tanya, is to pick people who are charismatic and engaging. You must also script out stories, practice, and rehearse. Often, what sounds like an impromptu discussion is a well-rehearsed collaboration with a story written by people with backgrounds in journalism and media. “Podcast is broadcast, but on a digital platform,” says Tanya, and it’s important to have experts help create them.

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.