As Internet speeds across the world continue to increase, the potential to upload high-quality video onto websites and reach huge audiences becomes ever more feasible. Most commercial operations now feature video on virtually every page of their website, and tourist destinations have been quick to fasten onto this trend in the constant battle to make themselves stand out from their competitors.
The Digital Tourism Think Tank recently reported on the value of videos for travel-related businesses when we documented a competition being run by the influential tourism website TripAdvisor. This campaign was intended to encourage users of the websites to contribute video material in a two-pronged attempt to promote the TripAdvisor brand while creating a distinctive community among consumers.
Destination video marketing
While this provided a novel example of how travel-related businesses can benefit from video presentations, the success of this approach is not limited to commercial entities alone. Increasingly, destinations are employing professional filmmakers to produce original and high-quality videos in order to promote their particular location.
One particularly striking example was recently produced by the Australian Tourist Board, who recruited the acclaimed cinematographer Joe Capra to make a four-minute time lapse video which spectacularly showcases the Gold Coast region of the nation. This video was released just last month, but has already created a big splash with travellers.
Another tourist board which has recently produced a similarly striking video is that of Catalunya. The Catalan Tourist Board hired a group of Spanish and international filmmakers to produce a short video lasting around three minutes regarding five regions based in Catalunya. These were shot back in May, 2014, and were released two months later.
Viral social media campaigns
In order to reach as big an audience as possible, and to fit in with the prevailing culture, these were premiered and released on a series of social media sites, namely Vimeo, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. By targeting some of the world’s most popular social media sites, the Catalan Tourist Board intended to ensure that the content went viral without the need for external promotion. This was considered a cost-effective way to market the Catalonian region, and the budget of this campaign was estimated to be a relatively frugal €40,000.
Another case study which shows the potential value of this approach is related to the Canary Isles. This sunspot recently ran a ‘#7stories campaign’, which was initially released earlier this year on 9th January. The Canary Islands Tourist Board invited seven separate video makers to spend a week on each of the seven islands which comprise the Canary Isles. During this time, each filmmaker used video and other social channels to share their experience with the viewing community.
This is a particularly interesting approach, as the Canary Islands Tourist Board is one of the first destinations to specifically invite video makers to engage in a public relations trip. While bloggers and other social influencers have previously engaged in such activity through social channels, hiring professionals to do the job and using it as a form of organic promotion is an extremely interesting notion, and one that other destinations can undoubtedly learn from.
Blogger trips catch on
This is particularly true given that blogger trips to promote a particular destination are becoming increasingly common and popular. An excellent example of this is the recent campaign ‘Malta is More’, which was run by the Maltese Tourist Board. This particular campaign was intended to bring together no less than seventeen bloggers from all over the world. Over a twelve week period, the bloggers were then encouraged to produce original content which promoted Malta as a tourist destination.
The first session of ‘Malta is More’ the campaign has already taken place in the capital city of Valetta. This first session comprised forty bloggers, and has been considered a big success by the tourist board. Thus, the second session of the campaign has already been scheduled, and will take place on 15th September on the picturesque island of Gozo.
The Italian city of Bologna is also getting on board with this promotional technique, offering free social media trips via their Bologna Welcome campaign. This is another example of innovatively promoting the city via viral social media, while offering the ordinary travellers who create the content something of great value to them into the bargain. Earlier this year, Bologna Welcome was awarded with the #DTTTaward for the Creative Campaigns category due to its new and fresh approach towards creating content and engaging travellers. Bologna Welcome will be presenting the results of their experience at the Knowledge Exchange in London on 25th and 26th September.
As social media becomes an ever more influential commercial medium, and continues to rack up millions and even billions of users, destinations can benefit greatly from a marketing through this affordable yet mass market medium. The value of video content, particularly in the form of video blogs or vlogs, should not be underestimated, as it provides an engaging opportunity to present a destination in its most seductive light.
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