Blog / July 25, 2017

Taking Travel Ads to the Next Level with Personalized Video

By Melanie Franke

With the many options for travel planning that exist on the internet today, 72 percent of consumers reported feeling overwhelmed when planning a trip according to a recent study from agencies Blitz and Amp, who primarily work with travel brands like Disney, Hilton and IcelandAir. We all know that planning a trip is stressful, and constantly seeing ads for new and better deals doesn’t necessarily help the overall decision-making process.

So what does this mean for travel brands looking to increase bookings with their target audience? Travel brands need to tell their story in a compelling and direct way that resonates with each consumer.

A recent article, Why Personalization Is the Key to Ad Tech in 2017, reports that ad blocking may reach 50 percent by this time next year, meaning there is a need now more than ever to create ads that viewers want to watch. Drawing the audience in starts with one simple step: connecting advertisements to consumers’ specific wants and needs.

With search habits crossing devices, brands need to be present where their target audience is searching and also feature a relevant message and compelling story on each platform. By leveraging personalized video marketing and the human connection we all secretly crave, brands have the opportunity to reach travelers-to-be in real time as they search via laptops and mobile devices for hotels, rental cars, activities and flights.

Drive results by appealing to eyes, hearts and minds

With hotel and airline websites and apps as the most-used travel resources, it’s clear brands need to invest in these platforms, starting with simplification and attention to the user’s experience. But to draw in the searchers, brands have to account for their audience’s preferences.

People are emotionally driven and visually oriented, and featuring a relevant message with appealing imagery in a personalized video marketing campaign can increase conversions. According to Marketing Land, brands that aren’t maximizing their personalization efforts are in danger of falling behind in their marketing strategies, but there is still much to be learned. Video accomplishes all of the awareness and branding objectives, but by adding in personalization elements, it can also drive the viewer toward a specific call-to-action or sale.

There are several personalized elements travel brands should consider for their video ads to make them even more relevant to audiences. Featuring images such as popular landmarks, the view from hotel rooms or on-location amenities can entice future travelers to align the image they have in their heads with the reality of what they’re searching for. A unique twist or an iconic visual can drive interest, and personalized video marketing does an excellent job of bringing those things to life.

Airbnb has excelled with this. Their first foray into video advertising started with in 2015 with their “Never a Stranger” campaign that highlighted a sense of belonging. Airbnb’s CMO, Jonathan Mildenhall, explains the decision to move to video advertising: “The entire world is moving toward video… It is all about the way you express your brand essence, how your brand shows itself within the experiences people are having, whilst creating compelling video content that people are really going to want to give their time for.”

Airbnb’s second campaign, entitled “Live There” that touts the benefits of traveling like a local rather than a tourist. And instead of creating one video piece to appeal to everyone, Mildenhall shot different versions of the same ad, including millennial, Chinese and LGBT versions, amongst others, to ensure the ad was relevant to each specific viewer.

Provide the perks

Connecting with future travelers also means speaking to their practical side, so featuring simple calls to action to encourage direct bookings that feature a few perks resonates with a lot of people.

Hilton launched their largest campaign to date, “Stop Clicking Around,” to discourage users from searching third-party booking sites for better deals–and to take back some of the market share they have lost to online travel agencies. The campaign features a 16-second mobile ad that ends with a link to an interactive 360-degree video, “Destination: Inspiration,” that features up to four minutes of content and takes viewers on a “virtual vacation” to the Hilton Barbados Resort.

Hilton sweetens the deal for those who book through the app by offering free wifi, exclusive discounted rates, loyalty points and digital check-in. Consumers are driven towards the best deal or discounted rate they can find, so adding in special features like these are essential to compete in the market.

Messaging location-specific information is especially helpful if a travel brand has multiple locations in a similar area; no one wants to book something and then show up at the wrong location in the same city. Additionally, real time weather information and feature messaging, like specific room types, travel packages or event discounts, can also help sway consumers. Travel brands can use these offer-specific elements and to create personalized messages for consumers based on their past purchase history and expressed travel preferences.

Simplify personalization

Seasoned travel marketer and current digital media lead at Airbnb, Dwight Pirtle, shares a simplified way of meeting very specific target audience’s needs: use video personalization technology to automate asset production and tailor them to different brands and locations.

By using this technique, brands can scale their message in a much easier way than crafting unique assets for individual personalized video marketing campaigns. From one base video, a hotel chain can share tropical images and deals with those searching for Caribbean getaways or tout free wifi and workspaces for the business traveler in a much less manual and more scalable way. It’s a great way to automate marketing activities but also personalize them for hyper specific audiences and campaigns.

Personalization by platform and viewing preferences is also incredibly important. In the example below, La Quinta was able to take the same base creative and offer, cut it to different lengths while preserving the concept of the ad and deploy that ad to specific audiences across platforms.

Final thoughts

Travel marketers have a lot of work to do to connect with audiences, in that they must customize messaging to relate to the company’s brands, discounts, specials, packages and attractions. Otherwise those future travelers will quickly jet off to more relevant ads.

By discerning user habits and behaviors, brands can personalize and humanize its message and visuals in an even more compelling way. Afterall, a brand’s ad becomes irrelevant the moment it fails to take into account the target audience’s needs.

More about the author

Melanie Franke Content Marketing Manager

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