The cruise industry has gradually slid into the spotlight over the past few years, and it shows no sign of giving up its centre-stage position any time soon.

Research from the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) revealed that eight out of ten CLIA-member travel agents expect an increase in sales in 2016, compared to last year. The experiences are out there and so is the business... but just how can travel agents offering cruise best promote their services with their content marketing efforts?

Creating content is one thing, creating engaging content that appeals to consumers is quite another. Skift reported that in 2014, a content-based approach to travel marketing had been so impactful that 86% of business-to-consumer marketers were using content marketing in some form. Engage your cruise browsers in just the right way and you could well see them transform into bookers. Here are a few tips on how best to do it:

1. Consider the buyer's journey

With each piece of content you design, consider how best it fits into the four key stages of the buyer's journey.

Firstly, there's the inspiration phase which can be best catered to by shareable content designed to grab consumers' attention and focus on the overall experience rather than an emphasis on brand and price point.

Then there's the research and discovery stage where your content still shouldn't put on the pressure to buy but instead educate the consumer's interested to discover more. Incorporating destination guides into your website as well as detailed floor-plans of cruise ships and interactive maps offer essential details to consumers and gradually lead them to the third stage - that of booking and preference. Here content which describes personalised itineraries, perhaps teamed with user-generated content and reviews can help to lock down those bookings.

Finally, there is the retention state where tailored and personalised email and social content can keep customers engaged and keep the relationship alive.

2. Provide a visual feast

Visuals are key when it comes to engaging consumers - Hubspot statistics reveal that coloured visuals increase people's willingness to read content by 80% and that content with relevant images get 94% more views than content without relevant images. And we're not just talking static images either - over half of marketing professionals (51.9%) named video as the type of content with the best ROI. Use rich, high quality and mobile-optimised images to promote your cruise experiences and consider developing snappy infographics and video to best show off cabins, ships, destinations and the overall cruise experience.

3. User-generated content is king

One of the most engaging types of content in the travel industry, a recent article by Skift stated that 72% of consumers post photos on social networks while on vacation whilst 76% post after they return. Travel brands can harness the power of user-generated images, videos and reviews to showcase the cruise experience in an authentic fashion, engaging loyal customers and enticing new ones.

As well as fine-tuning your content, offer your customers a seamless booking experience with our market-leading Cruise platform. Contact us today for further details.