NEW YORK Seeing is believing when it comes to choosing a destination for one’s vacation — and online video is all the rage.
So it’s not surprising that travel marketers are using Web-based clips to lure potential tourists more than ever before.
In the latest example of this trend, the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority has partnered with YouTube to create a brand page that marks Sin City’s major foray into online video. The page has been up and running for three weeks.
The move also signals the growing commitment of YouTube parent Google to formalize travel video as a category and make it a more vibrant segment of the related user-generated material already on the YouTube site.
“We believe it makes a lot of sense for the travel industry because it is so experiential and sight-, sound- and motion-focused — especially when it comes to online, which is very direct-response focused,” said Rob Torres, managing director at Google Travel.
For its online video debut, LVCVA is running 30-second clips that partly tie into its “Crazy times, crazy fun” campaign launched in the summer, emphasizes that consumers need a vacation “now more than ever” and Las Vegas is the best place take your vacation. The original thought was to put its TV spots on YouTube, but it has now evolved to a dedicated brand channel with video. There is also a slick video ad enticing vacationers to all the city has to offer, including nightlife, shows and hotel experiences.
R&R Partners in Las Vegas produced the ads and planned and purchased the media.
“Vegas right now” and “Crazy times call for crazy fun” are the key messages.
In the long term, the client hopes to build the channel via professionally produced vignettes and user-generated content.
“We wanted to put the Vegas message in front of them in a place where they weren’t necessarily thinking of travel at the moment, but were open to new experiences online, said Terry Jicinsky, svp, LVCVA.
LVCVA, according to Nielsen Monitor Plus, spent nearly $35 million on advertising in 2007 and close to $20 million year to date.
Jicinsky noted that use of nontraditional media has increased over the past couple of years. “It’s a process of evolution. We’re in tune with what the consumer wants, so there are incremental growths every year,” he said.
Google Travel has conducted research to determine the viability of online video as a tool in getting people to follow through on future travel bookings, said Cynthia Goodrich, branding specialist at the company.
Roughly 70 percent of survey respondents said they watched such channels when selecting a destination and more than 60 percent indicated they did when they were thinking about taking a trip. Additionally, 80 percent-plus said that even after they chose a vacation spot, they watched travel videos to learn more about their choice, said Goodrich.
Other advertisers that have partnered with Google Travel include New Zealand Travel and Disney.
James McQuivey, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, indicated that the travel sector is well positioned to succeed, in terms of online video. Products or services wrapped around it will attract viewers — and ad dollars, he said.
Other companies are ramping up their online video efforts. BBC Worldwide acquired a 75 percent stake in Lonely Planet last October. Its intends to increase the amount of video and audio content for travelers, said Luke Bradley-Jones, evp of business development and digital media for BBC Worldwide America.
Budget Travel magazine has also dedicated resources to its online offering. In July, it launched a social media site, My Budget Travel, which allows users to upload their own travel content, including photos, journal entries and videos. This follows up on its professionally produced travel videos that began populating its site in 2006.
“Travel has an inspirational and a dream and a wish fulfillment aspect to it. And so video of beautiful places absolutely fits that. But there is also the how-to part of travel, which is the more pragmatic aspect,” said Nancy Telliho, publisher of Budget Travel.