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Tourism boards are aggressively trying to expand their online reach beyond their websites, so TripAdvisor is providing a larger and more intelligent platform for them to ramp up their paid content marketing programs.

TripAdvisor is now providing tourism boards the opportunity to publish more types of content in more sections of the review site to better engage consumers during the all-important travel research phase.

As of last week, destination marketing organizations (DMOs) can buy into a “Premium Destination Partnership” with TripAdvisor to add a tab marked “Official Resources provided by XYZ Tourism.”

That links to the bottom of the Tourism Bureau page with a section of brand-supplied editorial content under the categories of Articles, Collections and Events. Users can also access the same categories at the Destination landing page, or individually under the Things To Do, Attractions and Dining pages.

The Articles section hosts traditional travel stories covering a specific topic such as “Wine Tasting Itinerary Sonoma.” Collections are themed listicles like “13 Wineries You Should Know” in Sonoma, which covers some of the same information. The new Events section highlights upcoming special events with links to their official sites.

Some DMOs like San Francisco Travel are presently only buying into the Events category.

“What we are trying to do is get the conversation from the tourist board into wider parts of TripAdvisor, effectively giving them more exposure and making sure the content is highly relevant and contextual, and therefore useful,” says Martin Verdon-Roe, VP of global ad sales at TripAdvisor. “When you look at what DMOs had before and what they have now, they have a lot more brand exposure on TripAdvisor where people can see all of this new rich content.”

Populating destination content across a greater spectrum on the site makes it easier, or more likely, for consumers to engage with participating brands. Verdon-Roe said the new Events section is especially intriguing because it should compel DMOs to upload information on a more regular basis.

In effect, the Events module gives destination marketers something resembling a online editorial calendar to structure their content development strategy.

Tourism boards who enter the enhanced partnership are now provided with a more sophisticated dashboard where they can post content on their own accord. However, all content is still vetted by TripAdvisor’s editorial team for clarity and focus before the information goes live.

Because there are more types of content options in more areas of the TripAdvisor site, there is also a larger volume of metrics that the portal can provide. Verdon-Roe says there’s a growing demand from DMOs for reporting data showing time-on-site to gauge content quality and relevancy broken down by vertical, versus just overall uniques.

TripAdvisor’s next goal is to build on that and deliver intent and conversion metrics.

Verdon-Roe told us, “Eventually what we should also be building in is total impact data, which is ultimately where we’d like to take this thing, that shows direct traffic to the destination.”

TripAdvisor has been working with DMOs since 2006, and according to Verdon-Roe, there are presently over 800 tourism boards worldwide with some kind of investment in the portal. We requested a geographic breakdown of those DMOs but that wasn’t provided.

So the biggest question about the new Premium Destination Partnership program is why hasn’t this happened before.

All travel brands are seeking to better engage consumers wherever they are in their online travel research and purchase journey, beyond the realm of the websites. This new TripAdvisor program seems to offer a plausible way for DMOs to expand their reach by integrating paid content strategically among all of the relevant user-generated content.

So if someone is searching for wine-themed attractions in California, for example, now they can be targeted with stories about wine-themed attractions, rather than just pages of listings for different wineries.

“That’s what TripAdvisor can deliver, which is the right user at the right time with the right content,” suggests Verdon-Roe. “So then an ad placement can actually become a complementary experience with the content that we already have. We can now align advertising content much more strategically because of the granularity of the website content.”

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Tags: dmos, tourism boards, tripadvisor

Photo credit: Sample of TripAdvisor destination content page showing new categories for Articles, Collections, and Events content, where tourism boards can post more timely and comprehensive editorial. TripAdvisor

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