Travel is one of the fastest growing markets: It is the world’s fifth fastest growing industry with one billion international travelers, $1.53 trillion in global revenues, and 5 percent annual growth forecasted according the U.N. World Tourism Organization.
Travel companies, destinations, and the hospitality sector know the challenges of shifting travel dreams into travel purchases. The consumer’s purchase cycle changes as quickly as their media consumption. Tapping into the emotional appeal of the decision at the right time is critical.
Online video has quickly outpaced TV as the preferred channel when considering a leisure trip. Two out of three U.S. consumers watch online travel videos when they’re thinking about taking a trip, finds Skift research.
Why video? Because travel is a highly emotional decision. Video creates a sense of excitement that makes the experience real. It is a proven tool to convert and increase engagement, aid awareness, and drive perceptions.
How to Improve Brand Reputation with Video
One unexpected example of the effective use of video in the travel category is that of the airlines. Carriers often fall on the list of the most hated global brands, right up there with big banks and utilities. Even with upgraded planes and scheduling and service improvements, most airlines find it hard to bolster their brand reputation.
Airline safety videos are one of the hottest marketing tools in the industry. Leading airlines such as Virgin Airlines understand the power of YouTube. The airlines have been quick to see how they can use clever safety videos and viral marketing to show their personality. The videos showcase key differentiators among brands in a humorous way.
Another great example is West Jet Airlines’ “The Christmas Miracle.” The airline set up a digital kiosk at departure gates and asked travelers what they wanted for Christmas. As the passengers flew to their destination, WestJet employees scrambled behind the scenes to deliver those gifts. The resulting campaign video showed highlights, including travelers’ reactions when they opened the gifts at the destination luggage carousel. To date the video has generated more than 47 million views on YouTube.
Why It Works: By sharing the video across social platforms and using the hashtag #westjetchristmas, the airline helped viewers share the surprise and warm feelings of the video. West Jet’s positive brand perception scores skyrocketed.
Proven Tips for Succeeding With Travel Video
Ready to get started? Follow these ten tips to reach more travelers and make more conversions.
- Maximize Home Page Real Estate
Putting video on a landing page increases conversion by 86 percent, notes Expedia research. The tourism offices for countries such Ireland, and Denmark have run impressive campaigns that dispel perceptions. Their videos serve as an immediate invite: They are welcoming, intriguing, and leave the viewer wanting more.
- Continually Refresh Content
A traveler visits 38 sites in the 45 days prior to making a trip, says Expedia. Refresh video content frequently to capture consumers’ attention. While many people plan a trip out a year in advance, many others make decisions at the last minute.
- Video Converts the Affluent Traveler
45 percent of leisure travelers booked immediately after viewing a video, Expedia finds. What’s even more surprising is this jumps to 74 percent for the affluent traveler! Personalization is a critical link for luxury travelers. Many luxury hotel and hospitality brands are adopting video in their sales strategies.
- Draw the Customer In
Take a first-person approach with videos to make viewers feel like they’re actually there in the experience. This creates a story that is like emotional glue and inspire action.
- Get Interactive
Adding interactive elements to digital video helps showcase travel experiences in a personalized way. Video tells a story, but interactive video creates a virtual experience.
- Have a Plan
Create an integrated marketing plan. The best results come from companies that consider the strategy first, create a multi-channel plan, and then develop the video content.
- Video Email Works
In addition to landing pages, video placement in e-mails can improve conversion rates by 20 to over 60 percent. Test out various subject lines first on a sample group. Remember to make all videos mobile-friendly.
- Timing Matters
When promotional videos are first released can make a big difference in how many views they get. Video email campaigns get the best open rates and views on Saturdays. Also, take advantage of timed release tools to get to the top of YouTube travel rankings.
- Build Momentum
The number of initial YouTube views are critical for a campaign’s success. Create a plan to get the snowball affect started. Reaching out to an internal contact list works well, as do marketing platforms like Virool, Kobe, and Messi, which will start spreading the word before things grow organically.
- Enhance Engagement
Enhance viewer engagement by sharing campaign videos with a small group, analyzing their responses (perhaps using tools such as a heat map of mouse movements and clicks) then optimizing the video before a larger distribution.
In 2017, online video will continue to dominate travel marketing. As more people explore the world, mobile video will surpass print, TV, and outdoor as the preferred marketing channel for the category. Some of the largest brands on Instagram Stories and Snapchat are travel companies. Look for storytelling to lead the way and video to lead the content.