Don’t shoot me, I’m pivoting to video!

Tips for using video in the travel sector - how to create travel video that drives traffic

I spent a day at a Content Marketing Day one of Melt Marketing's Digital Masterclasses a week or so ago. It got me thinking again about video and its place in the travel content eco-system today.

Ruairidh Roberts from Google shared some interesting statistics (though I'm always a little wary of percentages without the numbers to back them up):

  • 65% of UK travellers start searching without knowing where they’ll go on holiday
  • 64% of people turn to video for holiday inspiration

We'd previously had an interesting session on content creation from Suzie Thompson, Red Carnation Hotels who showed us some nice footage of hotel staff in South Africa doing traditional dancing. It was exuberant stuff and according to her, a great example of creating content that is unique and on brand.

I've long been utterly cynical though about people's obsession with video for all sorts of reasons. But sure, it absolutely has its place as those Google stats show.

Here then are a few thoughts about video, prompted in part by the session.

It's easy to shoot stuff, but so what?

It's the internet in a nutshell. The tech makes it too easy. How much duff video have you got sat on your iPad or iPhone that never ever gets watched? How much of the billion videos uploaded a minute or whatever the You Tube stat is, is worth watching? It's true that you don't need a pro camera, indeed an iPhone might well do.

But you do need to know how to shoot shots that work in sequence. You do need half decent sound if you're planning on using natural sound. (That almost certainly means a separate mic.) You do need to understand how to hold shots and how to frame shots. (That might mean a tripod.)

If you're going to make video, please learn how to shoot video.

If you don't know what you're going to say, you won't say it

With written content, the role of editor has been almost killed online. It's something that frustrates me immensely. It's like no one gives a crap any more about quality, about the art of writing. Ironically with video, the raw material is even worse much of the time. You can't do without an editor. There's software out there that assembles stuff for you so that it looks 'OK' and bungs a soundtrack behind it. But is OK good enough?

No. Not when there's gabillions of similar videos out there already. If you want to really make an impact with your video, here's a suggestion: Think about a story you want to tell and the steps along the way. (Yes, that's what's known as a narrative.) A rough idea of the start, the finish and how you will get there will make it all much better. It will make it easier to edit. It will keep your viewer engaged.

The viewer is at your mercy, so speed it up!

This is a critical difference between written content and video content. If the writing is dull, I can scan it and find bits that interest me. UX people will tell you that this is the default reading mode for everyone. We're magpies - we don't follow the writing in the nice linear fashion in which the writer thinks we will. Video is different. As a viewer you're locked into the pacing the editor has set. And my, I reckon 90% of video I watch online is too slow. Particularly at the start. I'm bored within the first few seconds. I try and fast forward but I don't know what I'm missing.

I think there's a great opportunity for someone to develop software that gets around this problem. For now though, maybe it's about making your online videos much faster paced than they would be for TV? And how about chopping your videos down into short chapters as well as the long form? Let people with short attention spans (like, err all of us?) just select the excerpts they want to see. Oh, and add captions too as these are much easier to scan.

Maybe we need different types of video for different stages in the customer journey?

Maybe some stages are much more appropriate for video than others?

Like this:

Stage 1: I don't know where to go yet

The inspiration stage is clearly the point where video can play a big role. I think there's plenty of scope here for the classic tourist board-style video that shows the highlights of a place. But being smarter. Try to tailor it to specific audiences too - families, older couples, teens etc. And add hyperlinks, make it dynamic. You Tube lets you overlay links and subtitles - so offer people the chance to click off to find out more. (It used to anyway. Does it still?). Lonely Planet is clearly investing heavily in video and their short videos about places are simple, but effective with good production values. Like this Where to go in Croatia video.

Stage 2: I think this place would be good, but I need questions answered

This one feels like classic objection countering territory. You need to do your research first here - search term research and reviews are the obvious place. Then you 'could' have a travel expert literally answering questions (Is the water too deep for toddlers? Does it rain in August? Etc) But maybe a written Q&A would work better and cost far less to produce?

Stage 3: I want to go here and do something like this. What kinds of trips are there?

This is the classic example of short chapters I mentioned above. Rather than three minutes about wildlife encounters in Costa Rica, give me six x 30-second clips about specific wildlife types. (Could I copyright the term 'micro-video' right now before some smartarse content strategist gets there?) Or better, both, let me choose. Give me both options.

Stage 4: I'm ready to buy this. Just show me how and give me a great deal.

I can't see a use of video when it comes to purchase points. Can anyone?

What do you think? How do you use video and what are the key problems you're finding?

I borrowed the pic from here.

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