Sharing the experience – could video become more popular than text for online traveller reviews?
By Anthony Rawlins, MD, Digital VisitorIt’s no secret that online video viewing and sharing has taken off in a big way over the past 12 months. Due to the explosion of social media, and particularly the huge popularity of YouTube and other video based UGC sites, travellers are now able to start sharing their experiences with not only text and photos, but also video reviews and video blogs.
Published: 25 Jun 2008
By Anthony Rawlins, MD, Digital Visitor
It’s no secret that online video viewing and sharing has taken off in a big way over the past 12 months. Due to the explosion of social media, and particularly the huge popularity of YouTube and other video based UGC sites, travellers are now able to start sharing their experiences with not only text and photos, but also video reviews and video blogs.
There is clearly a huge opportunity for travel companies here. Tourism is experiential and video allows experiences to be shared in a much more engaging way than either text or photos. As video functionality becomes ubiquitous on mobile phones and digital cameras, tourists cum amateur film-makers are experimenting in ever increasing numbers, and with increasingly impressive results.
I recently read an article in which TravelBlogger co-founder Ian Mackenzie had this to say about user generated video,
"Online video sharing is huge and we are seeing this medium of sharing information move into video blogging among travellers," said co-founder, Ian Mackenzie. "It provides a great means for those travellers who are merely interested in filming and posting video logs to share their travels rather than writing a formal travel blog."
As with all content, especially new media content, quantity far exceeds quality. As a travel company, the key to harnessing the power of video is to ensure that the video content that you have on your site, or on other sites used to promote your travel product, is authentic, compelling and informative.
One way to ensure quality is to produce the video content yourself, and travel companies are now doing this in increasing numbers. We have all seen the official virtual tour videos on hotel websites and there’s no doubt that this sort of content can play an important role in a traveller’s research and purchasing decision. More recently, travel companies and destinations have also started producing there own videos and posting them on YouTube and other video sharing sites to gain maximum exposure. To date, this kind of activity has had mixed results. If the content is compelling enough, then this kind of marketing can be very successful. New Zealand’s “Pure NewZealand” campaign on YouTube for example has seen some very impressive results. All too often however, such videos are of average quality and interest and the initiative ends up being a waste of time and money.
However, even if you succeed in getting your official video viewed regularly on YouTube, will this be enough to convince a traveller to buy your product, or travel to your destination? Your video may be both compelling and informative, but while it is produced by your company its authenticity will still be called into question by savvy consumers. Let’s not forget that the explosion of the social web now puts your customer in control, a key reason why it has taken off so rapidly. Consumers trust other consumers more than they trust you – and when it comes to content, video is no different to text or photos.
If you are serious about using online video as a means of engaging with your customers (and you should be), then you need to have both official and UG video content on your website. Only user generated videos can provide the authenticity and unbiased message that today’s online customers seek out and expect.
You’re also likely to get some fantastic content that you simply couldn’t emulate in an official video. A video clip of a happy traveller, sharing a genuinely great experience in your destination, or on your tour, or in your hotel. Marketing doesn’t get much better than that, does it?
Anthony Rawlins is MD of Digital Visitor, a video production and marketing consultancy specialising in travel. The company has recent launched its Visitor Review platform which can be used by travel companies to host user generated video, photos and reviews on their sites. For more information go to www.digitalvisitor.co.uk