Guest Post: How to plan a 360 degree video strategy for your travel company

Guest Post: How to plan a 360 degree video strategy for your travel company

Jon Mowat founder of Hurricane Video Strategy discusses why 360 degree video marketing is on the rise, and how travel companies can execute it to catch the eye of online audiences

Travel operators have been among the first to embrace the burgeoning 360 degree video revolution, and with good reason: the ability to showcase your destination in full panorama allows you to whet the appetite like never before, inviting potential customers to get a feel for the place, no matter where they happen to be.

It may sound as if we’re bordering the realms of sci-fi fantasy, but with YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook all supporting 360 degree video playback, virtual reality is becoming all the more real, as audiences can be ‘transported’ to the beach while reclining on the sofa.

Viewers don’t even require VR headsets, as it’s now possible to achieve the 360 experience by simply tilting mobile devices in whichever direction you desire, while desktop users can ‘click and drag’ the screen to change the viewpoint. Thus, the barriers have been broken down, and travel marketers are building impressive 360 degree video strategies.

Get the full picture

Video content continues to dominate online experiences, especially among younger demographics, and research from YuMe – the video advertising technology specialists – suggests that 360 degree films can help create more engaging experiences:

360mobile

Source: eMarketer

This chimes with a 2016 Google study that tested two variations of a YouTube ad for a sportswear brand – one presented as a traditional video, the other with full 360 degree capabilities. The 360 version went on to achieve 41% more earned actions, i.e. click-throughs, shares and subscribes.

With marketing managers the world over prizing engagement levels as a metric, there’s a clear case to start shooting 360 shorts. Being able to take control and manipulate the action can create meaningful experiences that resonate on deep levels, so there’s much to be gained from allowing people to get the full picture with sweeping vistas.

South African Tourism has used 360 videos as part of its influencer-led online campaign, with visitor numbers increasing 11.8% from January to November 2016, and here are three other brands getting nifty with 360.

Thomson Holidays

Witnessing the Northern Lights is high up on the holiday hitlist of many adventurous souls, and this immersive production from Thomson invites people to experience this natural wonder in all its mystical majesty.

No specific resort or package is mentioned in the description, other than “Explore Iceland”, and that’s the lesson here: Thomson understands the value in promoting the unique experience of aurora borealis as a lead generator from which viewers can easily click-through to their website.

Having the freedom to ‘look up’ and spin round to see the magical green lights is truly mesmerising, and seeing this pop-up on your news feed could certainly tempt prospects to book plane tickets.

The video has amassed nearly 500,000 views in six months, and one would imagine a fair few bookings have been made off the back of it.

Tourism New Zealand

The official 100% Pure New Zealand advertising campaign has been running since 1999 and recently 360 degree video has been incorporated into the marketing mix, giving potential visitors a taste of what lies ahead on the other side of the world. (iOS software doesn’t currently support 360 playback on YouTube, so Safari users will have to switch to a different browser to watch the video.)

What’s great about this particular effort is the variety of activities being showcased. Everyone associates NZ with extreme sports, and you can’t help but get that butterflies in your tummy feeling as ‘jump’ from Sky Tower and hurtle towards the ground, but we also take a more serene boat trip from Auckland’s harbour to the enchanting Waiheke Island and then toast the night away with some local wine.

Ultimately, you’re left with a sense of the exhilarating urban culture and wonderful natural beauty on offer, encapsulating the very essence of what makes New Zealand so attractive to tourists from all over the globe.

Monarch

While Monarch primarily deal with air travel, they realise that very few people hop aboard a plane for the journey; it’s all about the destination.

Their approach to 360 degree video marketing focuses on what people can actually do and see upon arriving in a new, exciting city. Here, they display Stockholm’s resplendent underground network in all its artistic glory:

While you have seen still images or even standard video footage of the world’s so-called longest art gallery before, there’s nothing like being able to face any direction and discover it for yourself. There’s a real “wow” factor at play. (I literally just said “wow” as the rainbow artwork appeared to my right!)

That’s the real power of 360 degree video; it stirs emotions in a manner that standard video simply can’t achieve, replicating real world experiences that make you feel more connected to the content.

It’s an artform that’s still in relative infancy, but as consumers become more au fait with the technology at their fingertips, there’ll start searching out 360 videos to ‘try before they buy’, which is precisely why travel brands are increasingly getting in on the act before their competitors.

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