Last week I discussed the importance of the experience to today’s traveler. Later in the week, Nolan Burris talked about the “wow” experience he recently had in South Africa. Are you sensing a theme here? In Nolan’s article, he included a video to visually highlight his written message—and it worked. In terms of traffic to Travel Research Online, it worked. That article, along with the views of the video was very strong. I wondered.
Last week, I was preparing to release a small weekend group trip to my clients. Typically, my email database will get a heads up prior to any publication on the website, and I decided to include a video. And wow!
I have long been an advocate of direct email marketing. With email marketing, you have been given an invite into a prospect’s home and they know that you are going to pitch them on a travel product. When they stumble across your website, they may not like the look of it, the name of it, or any other quirky aspect that they dislike. If they walk into your store, they can just browse and anonymously leave. With email it is different. They have told you where they live and where the spare key is hidden. They are much more prone to read your message and react to it than someone that sees a banner or newspaper ad.
So my recent broadcast painted a picture of a bucolic weekend in the Catskill Mountains for parents and children. I had images of past trips and the most descriptive and alluring words I could muster. And then I recalled Nolan’s column and decided to put together a quick video highlighting the last trip. I included still photos and video snippets of games, the rooms, dining, hiking, swimming, trail riding, and of course, parents and kids laughing and having a good time. The total time was 2 minutes (the experts say that unless it is incredibly “edge-of-your-seat” worthy, that is the magic number) and the results were incredible. The open rate of the email broadcast was typical; but the click through rate was through the roof—particularly on the video. The result? I effectively sold out the trip without once posting it onto Facebook or my website. I have 35 rooms held and as of this writing, I have 31 deposits in hand.
To create the video I used Apple’s iMovie – I am a total hack and it took me an hour to do something that someone with a basic level of video editing could do in 10 minutes. But there are other very good options out there. Animoto is a very simple one, and very easy to use if you have an Apple iPhone or iPad is Videolicious. This was a discovery last week and I did not have the time to play with it, but it appears incredibly easy to produce a quality video essentially on the go. If you are still unsure, most community colleges offer a basic video production class which will be well worth it. After all, we are carrying a full video production studio in our pockets now.
Created by Mushroom Networks
So, in 2016—make it the year of the experience and include video—at least give it a try. I bet you will be very surprised.