“The reach and engagement you gain from online videos is unparalleled”
By Ritesh Gupta
But what role do videos exactly play in the travel planning cycle?
“Video and forms of online rich media allow brands to connect emotionally and aesthetically with customers - to tell stories,” says Doug Miller, Global VP, Media Solutions, Expedia.
He says there is a tendency to often overlook the emotional drivers of shopping and transactions. Today, selling travel online is very rational and linear, pointed out Miller.
“The next real innovation for online travel selling lies at the intersection of creativity and technology. We need to invest more here (including videos),” Miller told EyeforTravel’s Ritesh Gupta.
The proponents of online video say while text reviews are best to describe experience and services, quantity is necessary to create trust and to reflect the different experiences. On the other hand, videos show the product as it is: one good film can say it all and UGC videos often focus on the same views.
At the same time, there are certain weaknesses associated with this form of content. Watching a video takes time and you can’t skim or filter them very easily to find the ones most relevant to you but there’s always that old saying that a picture speaks louder than words.
Still, there is no denying that the ability to share what a hotel actually looks like, what another traveller actually experienced, is incredibly powerful.
Assessing the current investment benchmarks and RoI, Geraldine Madeira, Head of Travel Industry Solutions, Microsoft Online , says, “I definitely believe in the old saying that a picture speaks louder than words and I am a little nostalgic for the days when imagery was more widely used to inspire travel. However, it is difficult to deny that a compelling price drives bookings and in challenging times, price tends to be the center of advertising. At the same time, online video has the power to bring online travel imagery back to life.”
Madeira added,”Search engines are making it easier to skim and filter video. When searching for videos on Bing, you don’t need to click on several different videos to find the right one. You simply hover over a video thumbnail and the video plays automatically within the search results. It definitely makes searching for that right hotel video much easier.”
Madeira continued, “When assessing online video, I usually place it in two buckets: advertising and content. In regards to advertising, I like to look at online video as an extension of your broadcast buy. The reach and engagement you receive from online video is unparalleled. Whether it’s pre-roll, overlay or limited interruption, I have remembered more brands from watching online video ads than watching commercials blur across my TV screen using my DVR.”
With adjacent display ads next to the video, consumers are receiving a very impactful brand message and advertisers should think about assessing these placements as they would their broadcast campaigns.
“As far as video content is concerned, I believe some advertisers are doing a good job using video to educate, simulate (a hotel experience for example), and rejuvenate the excitement for their brand. I believe others can do more to incorporate both user-generated video and corporate-generated video into their travel sites as well as onboard their ships, planes and in their hotels,” Madeira said.
For empowering a website with videos, there are two solutions: Build your own web software to encourage customers to create and share video content or use a Plug & Play widget (no development costs).
There are downsides to both, according to Jennifer Davies, senior content manager, Expedia.
“Building your own software gives you control over the implementation and upgrade process while outsourcing gets you live faster without impacting other projects. If your goal is to get live quickly and do some testing, outsourcing probably makes the most sense, but if you’re building a branding campaign around video, you’ll likely want to bring the project in house. Some travel companies are definitely encouraging customers to shoot hotel reviews. At Expedia.com, we are focused on integrating the content that is most useful to our customers at the time they are researching our site with intent to book,” Davies told EyeforTravel’s Ritesh Gupta in an interview earlier this year.
In late 2008, during EyeforTravel’s annual Sales and Marketing in Travel Summit Europe in Munich, it was highlighted that customers expect video to answer three basic questions:
- What’s around the hotel: what is the neighborhood like, what is nearby the hotel.
- What kind of hotel is it: Is it more a family or a design hotel, what are the amenities, etc…
- What are the different room categories: What do I get if I pay €100 more for a junior suite vs. the standard double.
Overall, videos have been gaining in significance.
Considering intense competition in the marketplace, hotels like to position content as a means of providing consumers with a higher level of trust of their products and services.
“Consumers should be able to not only see a property in pictures but become part of the experience through rich media. We believe this is a vital part of increasing online conversion,” says Edward Perry, senior director of E-Commerce, WorldHotels.According to Perry, videos should be treated like any other component of the online investment.
Online Marketing Strategies for Travel USA 2010 Conference
Expedia’s Doug Miller, Microsoft Online’s Geraldine Madeira and WorldHotels’ Edward Perry are scheduled to speak at the Online Marketing Strategies for Travel USA conference which will take place in Miami (2-3 June).
Phone: +44 (0) 207 375 7197