STA Travel wanted to differentiate itself from its competitors, build a stronger relationship with its customers and increase brand awareness.
As part of its digital strategy, STA Travel implemented a range of value added services on its website (statravel.co.uk) to increase the community nature.
Core to this strategy was the introduction of the STA Travel Blogs (statravelblogs.com), which offer customers a way of staying in touch with friends and family when travelling, as well as a means of creating a permanent record of their journey.
The travel blog service, which won the ‘Best Use of Social Media’ category at the Travolution Awards 2007 for STA, is a white labelled service from Off Exploring (offexploring.com).
Following implementation of the service, which took just six weeks, a high percentage of website visitors now arrive via a customer’s travel blog. Since January 07, visitors from over 185 countries have used the site, with the UK generating the largest audience (29.7%).
On average, visitors spend seven and a half minutes on the site and take in 11 pages per visit – this demonstrates the site’s stickyness given that most sites enjoy an average stay of just one to two minutes.
With thousands of experienced travellers developing and maintaining STA travel blogs, and thousands more friends and family members registering on the site, STA has significantly extended its customer database and number of customer prospects.
Over 44,061 blog entries have been posted about travel experiences around the world, and 1.3 million images and 2,000 videos have also been added, meaning the STA website is brimming with unique user generated content.
Due to the depth of this content, a tagging feature that enables users to tag images, videos and blog entries has just been added.
So, if a site visitor is interested in learning more about Thailand, they can literally click on Thailand in the tag cloud and view all the blog entries, photos and videos tagged Thailand. This has made the STA site the most up-to-date online travel guide.
Global Webmaster for STA Travel, Craig Hepburn, said, “The implementation was primarily about offering our customers a new experience and giving them some real value add. But that’s not all it has done, STA has benefited in ways we never expected.
“We now have a new means of repeatedly engaging with website visitors and the potential to turn them in to paying customers, as well as a great brand building platform.
He added, “We have unique user generated content, which describes destinations in a way a product manager never could, and this content has resulted in STA powering up search engine rankings.
“Importantly, we have been able to reduce marketing spend and pay per click advertising on websites and search engines, due to the success and reach of the STA travel blogs. The service is now central to our business strategy due to the sheer impact the implementation has had.”
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