Travel marketers are a lucky bunch. Not only are they marketing the best beaches, ski slopes and historic locales around the world, but their digital marketing data is incredibly rich. Less than 5 percent of Americans book with a travel agent, and whether it’s a one-night business trip or a month-long getaway, there simply aren’t many offline bookings (i.e. in person or via phone) for travel brands to track. Nearly every other industry is busy struggling to capture, reintegrate and make sense of offline data, but hoteliers, airlines and resorts are stewards of a buying journey that happens almost exclusively online.
This makes travel video marketing sound pretty easy, but in fact, it’s potentially more difficult than any other industry as targeting is essential and the elements for personalization are endless. The product is the destination, and nothing helps an audience visualize themselves there quite like video. With sight, sound and motion, video has the power to connect with consumers in a way that display ads just can’t.
However, that doesn’t mean that just any video will do. If you are United Airlines flying to 186 different cities around the globe, you can’t use creative featuring Seattle’s space needle when your customer is considering a trip to Bangkok and still remain relevant. The same goes for hotel chains and destination resorts—spring breakers and families with young children require equally varied messaging.
This need to deliver highly personalized messages in an emotionally evocative way has led the travel industry into a new frontier of video marketing. Below, we will look at three new frontiers for travel video marketing and how they will help advance the travel industry as a whole.
New Frontiers for Travel Video Marketing
As a medium, digital video provides opportunities beyond just standard online video ads. There are cutting-edge platforms and methods of delivery that present new and interesting ways for marketers to connect with potential travelers.
1. Personalizing the Travel Ad
Digital video technology now allows travel marketers to target, localize and personalize videos for different audiences, which is ideal for promoting travel bookings for specific audiences. And more marketers are starting to use video for sales objectives, as evidenced by Sequent Partners new research, Digital Video at the Inflection Point, which found that 87 percent of marketers had a positive, measurable ROI experience with digital video in the past year. Couple that with the fact that 66 percent of people are watching travel-related video content before taking a trip, and video becomes the ultimate advertising medium for travel and hospitality brands.
On the surface, booking sites are pretty utilitarian as they primarily focus on facts around booking a trip: when, where, cost, etc. But travel is an emotionally-driven industry and, in the age of the experience economy, where stories outweigh possessions, personalized video that can combine booking call-to-actions with storytelling create the perfect combination for delivering outcomes.
DoubleTree by Hilton saw wild success with this approach. “The personal touch has always been a key part of DoubleTree’s brand personality,” reports Google, in a deep dive into DoubleTree’s digital video efforts. The hospitality that greets new guests when they receive a freshly baked cookie at check-in, translates to their digital footprint as well.
The DoubleTree team created DTours, a series of campaigns around a YouTube channel full of user-generated videos.
DTours invited travelers to share their story, get inspired by others’ ideas and build their ideal trip. In the process, this data was captured through browser cookies that then showed visitors increasingly personalized travel video marketing recommendations on other sites and ended in a booking call to action.
“It really serves as a bridge between our social network and our growing booking engine on DoubleTree.com,” said John Greenleaf, global head of DoubleTree. The DTours campaign has netted the company nearly 5 million views and counting.
Both examples show how travel brands are using video features to create ads that are personalized to their brand and their target consumers across markets.
2. Addressable TV
Vacations are typically household decisions, but as a travel marketer, you typically only have data to reach the person who did the research and not the entire household. Addressable TV is an emerging platform that allows you to target entire specific households with personalized video messaging. As a result, digital video is expanding and gaining value. Although addressable TV is a new frontier for travel marketing, it could be what pushes the industry to new heights.
As an example, let’s say that a mother researches Disney cruises on her mobile device or desktop for a potential family vacation. Later that night as the family watches TV, a relevant ad for the cruise and destination in question plays. It’s no coincidence: This ad was targeted based on the past search from someone in that household, sparking a family conversation that leads to a decision on that specific package. In this way, extending seamlessly from online video into the living room, can help travel marketers capture increased bookings.
Hilton Hotels has an active Instagram presence that combines photos and videos of the many places you can travel and stay at one of their properties.
Another excellent, targeted platform for personalized video engagement is Instagram. According to an eMarketer report, consumers are increasingly sharing travel brands’ content on the photo-centric social platform, and it ranks as the second-most shared platform behind Facebook. It’s also growing much more quickly than other networks, at 15.1 percent last year compared to the industry standard 3.1 percent, which is laudable given that it already boasts 1 billion users.
Much of Instagram’s appeal for travel marketers lies in the fact that it’s a primarily visual platform. At one time it was a photo-only platform, and the options for advertising were limited. That is no longer the case; Instagram is now an advertising haven. Users flock here seeking stunning images, videos, and a sense of “awe” which are precisely the emotional elements that travel marketers are hoping to convey. As a discovery tool, it presents fantastic opportunities for travel brands to engage with their consumers through video.
Personalized video advertising lies at the confluence of consumers’ twin desires for deeper personalization and emotional connection to the experiences that travel offers. As marketers continue to leverage new technology to deliver on these expectations, travel video marketing will become an increasingly important player in any travel and hospitality marketing strategy.