Investing in Video Technology

While most marketing executives would agree that video is the best method for reaching customers, there is still a great deal of mystery about proving the metrics for a video investment.

Cisco reports that global online video traffic will make up 80% of all internet traffic by 2019. Google (owner of YouTube) estimates that their platform accounts for approximately two-thirds of online video viewing. According to Adweek, Snapchat users watch more than 10 billion videos daily while more than 500 million Facebook members view videos each day.

This represents a lot of opportunity to connect with and engage customers and prospects. While many travel industry companies are posting video content they are doing so without some key engagement and measurement systems in place. The typical reasons are a slow movement from using video technology metrics from the metrics used for television and the ever present print advertising that is still present in the industry.

The result of using outdated metrics is a total missed opportunity to fully understand the engagement factors of their video content. In addition to understanding the metrics the travel industry needs to also get a grasp of the content in the video and how it relates to an intended audience. A one fits all strategy (hence, a video brochure) will not provide a measured ROI for video content. Measuring impressions simply is not enough, just knowing a video played does not tell whether that video played without an actual viewer watching or it played while that viewer was distracted towards something else.

So, how can the travel industry reach a level of success for their video investments? Engaging video is aimed at a specific audience with a video that shares a story, not a flash of sites and music to entertain. The engagement can be measured through OTT Technology and enhanced by including a “reserve now” call to action feature built into your video online. Conversion metrics make measuring an ROI much easier. The ability to manage your video content on a daily basis allows for best use in various market segments.

In summary, get your video produced with an end in mind, tell your story so the audience is engaged and they envision being in that video. Distribute your video content where you can get the best return on your investment.

What about the Economy? The impact on incentive and engagement programs

Charts Graphs paper. Financial development, Banking Account, Statistics, Investment Analytic research data economy, Stock exchange trading, Mobile office reporting Business company meeting concept.

Companies use various forms of incentive, engagement, loyalty and other performance programs to motivate employees, dealers and customers to change their behaviors. In an economic environment that is humming along, these programs tend to be in favor as budgets are easy to justify. 2018 seems to be one of those years according to the Incentive Research Foundation’s Top Incentive Trends of 2018. Market Optimism was listed at number 2, “The incentive travel industry’s net optimism score for the economy is up almost 20 points from 2017, according to the IRF. Increased optimism is leading to budget increases for incentive professionals”, but the economic forecast through 2020 is quite different. When the environment changes those budgets can dramatically shrink and in many cases, be totally eliminated.

To understand how that can happen, to even the biggest and the best companies, just go back to 2008-2009 and review the results. Company CEO’s were testifying before Congress to justify having such programs during a recession. CEO’s who escaped Congress were seen running with a clipboard or briefcase hiding their face as news reporters chased them through their office lobbies wanting to know why they had sent their sales team to Hawaii during a recession. Companies who provide these types of programs were also impacted. Program cancellations were widespread and with that loss of business, layoff’s and “early retirement” created an exit of great talent from many of these companies.

The shame of all of this is it did not have to be that way. Performance Improvement Programs are indeed a great asset to any business when they are planned, executed and measured correctly. The planning process is critical and must be conducted with an eye on all internal and external environments of the business. For companies that planned and kept an eye on their environments, the 2008-2009 economic downturn had the opposite effect. Instead of laying people off they were out recruiting talent that would not have been available in better times.

Instead of cancelling programs, they were increasing their budgets to improve them. How could they do that?

Working from an enterprise performance perspective and a measurement of ROI that included far more than a measure of program costs versus achievement of objectives, they were able to see a recession coming. Economic forecasts can predict that and while there is little a business can do to stop it, knowing it is coming a year or two before it hits sure helps in the planning process. During that time these organizations were reviewing the results of their incentive, engagement and loyalty programs to understand the audiences they were reaching as well as the internal teams that had to support those audiences. In good times, as we are enjoying now, most companies will live with under-performing employees, channel partners or customers who perhaps tend to drag down margins. By addressing both of these factors the organizations that lived to grow during a recession were able to take positive action with both of these audiences. Not the hatchet approach that happens during the down cycle but a much more human approach that allowed employees to move on when jobs, in most cases a better fit for them, were still available and customers were offered the same opportunity with competitors. These actions were actually included as objectives in their programs.

The timing to be forward thinking, especially how your organization will consider measuring ROI, is key. Economic trends, from a leading economic forecast firm, with a historical 98.7% accuracy, has recently forecasted that in the B2B space 2019 will show a slight dip in the market, not a recession but a downturn that will last into 2020. Then by the year 2030 we are all looking at a very likely economic depression. That’s right, not a recession but a depression that will rival the 1930’s. Planning now for the ups and especially the downs is going to be key.

Time to take thorough planning a bit more seriously I think, what about you? When finalizing your budget for your next incentive or engagement initiative what will your approach be? What internal and external environments will you consider as part of your strategic planning process for your performance programs?

While assessing potential internal and external impacts may seem like overkill to most in the incentive, recognition and reward space, to me, an industry outsider, it is the most powerful step to ensure that the best program objectives are selected to achieve the most profitable outcomes for the company, especially financial ROI.

 

 

Navigating the Sea of Travel Video Content

mother son and daughter in dock looking right big cruise ship on background
** Note: Slight blurriness, best at smaller sizes

There is not much debate among marketing executives with regard to the value of video marketing. Consumers are truly viewing video content in record numbers and that fact has changed the way marketing messages are being delivered. As with any major shift in marketing navigation this change in particular has created challenges.

The Travel Industry, while representing an ideal industry for video, has been a true testament to how jumping into the video marketing arena is not as easy as making a former TV Commercial into a video. Video brochures can be great to watch and listen as music follows a bird’s-eye view of a destination. Unfortunately, sometimes the music is so intrusive it takes the focus away from the scenes flying by. Scenes flying by are yet another issue, they remind me of the days before digital cameras where we had to actually have pictures developed. I had shoe boxes filled with great photos with the intention of one day creating albums of the world I had seen and thought enough of to take those pictures. Years later, of course having never gotten to that album project, I found myself still gazing at beautiful mountain ranges, dark blue oceans and amazing architecture. Problem was I found myself trying to recall exactly where was I when I took this picture and exactly what was it I was trying to capture that one day could be a part of my album?  Same can be said for travel videos today. Great moving pictures, but what exactly am I wanting to get from those pictures is not quite clear. Understood, it is hard to make a video for a particular viewer who is searching for a particular venue or destination and then be able to actually show them “why they should be here”.

Or is it not so hard??

Turns out it actually is not hard at all to provide video content that can provide the story behind the content and that content can be delivered to a specific travel buyer who is either searching for that content or whom a travel company desires to bring to their content. The production and delivery of the content through OTT Technology can provide that and more. Imagine wetting the appetite for a venue, travel experience or a destination and then having that ready to buy traveler being able to do so right from the very same video.

The Travel Industry is slowly catching on to having video content versus the traditional and very out dated print media for marketing. The steps taken to date however are still not up with the times. Travel video content can be found on YouTube where many travel companies have created their YouTube Channels. That solves one issue for the traveler, video content is available. Finding exactly what you want is yet another issue. Searches on YouTube will bring up content, I tried it and here are some of my personal results:

A search for a Caribbean Cruise got me to videos about that topic. The first video available said Carnival Cruise. When I clicked on that video it was actually a video from a rather upset Carnival customer who made a video entitled 10 Reasons Not to Take a Carnival Cruise. Ouch.

Further to travel videos, a good friend of mine actually booked a cruise. To help plan their cruise they browsed through the cruise line’s website and found video links for activities on the ship. They shared the video with me. The video was obviously taken by a passenger on their phone. It showed an activity taking place in the ballroom, with the lighting not able to show what was actually taking place and the audio offered nothing more than audience noise. It got worse from there. At the completion of the video, the typical YouTube screen came up with “other” videos you could view. Those video selections were for other cruise lines.

The Sea of Travel Video Content can be channeled much better. The world is an incredible place and the travel industry can do amazing things to bring a wonderful life fulfilling experience to millions of people. Let’s get on the right path.

–Bob

Are you a Travel Company or an Experiential Travel Company?

The Travel Industry, not unlike many industries, goes through phases as the marketplace for travel services changes. During the 1970’s travel was all about marketing travel as niche travel, the 1980’s changed that to Special Interest Groups or Specialty Travel. The 1990’s introduced ecotourism, which then morphed into responsible, sustainable and geotourism travel in the 2000’s.

Today, nearly two decades into the 21st century the travel industry has brought yet another new phrase to describe travel, experiential travel. Experiential travel has a different meaning to each traveler but essentially it is comprised of Adventure, Responsible, Special Interest and Active Holiday travel. Other inclusions in this new phase of travel also include Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events. That about covers most of traveler’s needs. The key ingredients to qualify for experiential travel are providing more than a trip, but having the travel experience being authentic, engaging and most important, it has a take-away value that is some form provides the traveler with a life enrichment experience.

No question the travel industry has witnessed the need for an experience rather than a trip. Travel companies that have traditionally (and still do) now offer their “trips” as experiential. As a travel company how do you know if you are delivering an experience and not just a trip?

Start with an assessment of your business. Is your company driven by selling into a room block and gaining high volume sales by marketing travel at the lowest possible cost? Does your company engage with travelers on the phone or are you leaving the sales process on the Internet?

Experiential Travel is all about the personal touches that make the experience unique, authentic and providing the enrichment from the travel experience. That is hard to provide with just online marketing. The experiential travel company understands that to truly engage a traveler you have to market to a specific audience. Digital marketing provides the opportunity to reach that audience with a message that resonates with them and causes a conversation to take place.

Experiential travel needs to be presented in a video format that is accessible on the technology device the experiential traveler uses to research their travel experiences. Your video content has to tell a story. Videos of drone shots covering vast amounts of landscape, cars racing through a city or town while music is playing loudly does not elicit much response. Video content that tells a story provides the traveler with a thought process that says, “wow, I would love to explore more”.

Of course, travel companies hesitate doing this type of marketing because of the potential for cost. The good news is, the experiential traveler is willing to pay more for an experience than just a trip. The fulfillment of an experience is high on the list for consumers today. Even Oprah Winfrey, someone who can buy things at will, boasted about how much having a travel experience meant to her over having material things in her life. The world is a great place to experience, are you ready to bring your part of it to a willing audience?

Bringing travel to a new audience of buyers

Friends group using smartphone against wall at university college backyard break - Young people addicted by mobile smart phone - Technology concept with always connected millennials - Filter image

The interest for authentic, adventurous and experiential with packaged tours is losing its appeal. Consumers no longer want to simply “take a trip” and they no longer want to have their travel plan neatly wrapped as a tour that fits all.  This truly represents a transformation for the Travel Industry and it impacts just about every segment of the industry.

How do we know this is actually the case? Consumer data, gathered from social media, website analytics, traveler reviews and surveys tell the story.

According to an Adventure Tourism Market Study, co-produced by George Washington University and The Adventure Travel Association (ATTA), sales of adventure travel have grown by 65% yearly since 2009. Much of this growth can be attributed to a wider age demographic audience than has expressed an interest in inclusion of an adventure component for their travel plans. Unlike the traditional adventure travel this new trend shows travelers have an interest in a softer adventure. The study states “Nearly 54% of travelers plan to participate in an adventure activity on their next trip, compared to the 42% of travelers currently participating in adventure activities.”

According to ATTA President, Shannon Stowell, “As we watch adventure travel tourism grow, it is imperative that we continue to provide travelers with transformative experiences.”

Google Consumer Surveys and polled U.S. and U.K. adult Internet users on their travel habits. Some of the answers are instructive on what we want out of our travels.

For the U.S. and UK consumers who have traveled internationally in the last year for vacations, it is clear that overall they’re looking to travel with friends and family, as well as use local firms in their planned destinations.

In an American Express survey commissioned in 2017, consumers illustrated their demand for more enriched lives and personal fulfillment through experience and learning. Over 72% of respondents said they would rather spend money on experiences than things. Further, 88% said travel is the number one dream on their life’s bucket list, ranking higher than family or wealth.

With the continuing interest in a new form of travel how can travel marketers differentiate their product as more experiential experiences amid an increasingly crowded travel landscape?

Travel marketers must now present their travel experiences in a format that the travel consumer wants to use and on a device they use to make travel plans. Travel experiences are best presented in video format. While many travel videos can be found in the sea of video content online, the travel consumer is not seeking a travel experience that requires hours of endless searching and viewing video content that is simply a video brochure. Video content must tell your travel story, it must be distributed to a target audience and it has to be easily located and delivered on a mobile device, laptop computer or a Smart TV. That technology is found utilizing OTT, Over-the-Top video distribution. OTT allows your content to be found, viewed and purchased (directly from the video) without having to be subjected to unwanted or irrelevant video content.

Video and OTT Market Stats from 2017 tell the story:

1.3 Billion People watched video

4.7 Million Videos Streamed

64% more likely to purchase from a site with video

88.4% of digital video viewers were also OTT users. 89.3% forecasted by 2019

15% YoY OTT users growth in 2015

200 million forecasted OTT users in the US by 2019

 

How much will my video cost?

If you are up for an exercise I highly recommend you start a search for having a video produced for your business with this question.  The responses vary so widely that what you eventually will come to understand is that the real answer is quite simple:

“It depends”

 Rather than going round and round I want to share what I found to be the best way to recognize what “your business video should cost”.  First rule of thumb, don’t bother asking someone who had a video produced what they paid to have it done.  You will soon see why I think that could be sending you down the video rabbit hole.

The key aspect about video production is you are more than likely able to actually see what you would be buying before you actually buy it.  Any video production company is going to have content they produced for you to see.  So, do that, I did and I want to share what I found so perhaps you can make an educated decision about your video.

TIP # 1  Don’t start with a budget in mind

Rather than trying to squeeze a video into your budget, think about what your video is all about.  Why are you doing this at all?  Start with that question and then you can be ready to understand what type of video would help you achieve your objectives.

TIP # 2  Understand the message and the audience

Video’s can entertain your audience or they can drive your audience to wanting to know more or even buy from your business.  What is your objective for your audience?  This is key because you will not have your best sales person in front of your audience your video is what represents your company.  What impression are you trying to make and will that impression resonate with your audience?

TIP # 3  Let the video production company do the video

Your job is to fully understand your objective for producing a video and what audience you are aiming this video at.  Your role in this production is to arm your video production company with enough information so they can provide you with the best video for your objectives.  Don’t become a video producer.  Your view and those of your employees and friends may not be the same as your potential audience.

Okay, you’re now ready to make an educated decision, so back to how much should I pay?  Armed with the tips I have shared you then should review videos that have been produced within several price ranges and see the difference in quality, the story being told and the complexity of producing the video.  More importantly you should envision your business being featured in each of these videos and ask yourself if that is what you would be proud to have as your company brand on display.

Samples I found and price range quotes I was given will show you how this can work:

Here is a video that is about visiting a favorite city of mine, San Francisco.  As you watch this video look at two key things that may impact your decision.  Lighting and sound.  These are key things to consider in any video.  Background noise can be distracting from having your message actually heard.  Lighting can impact how clear your message is being displayed.  Cost estimate for this video:  $4,000 – $8,000.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=olc24_VHqdk

This video provides a great overview of a destination (Carmel CA).  Rather than utilizing the live on camera coverage the video is done with a voice-over.  You can capture the various highlights and present them in a controlled environment, so that background noise and lighting concerns are able to be controlled in production.  Drones are introduced to showcase dramatic footage from a birds eye view.  Cost estimate for this video:  $8,000 – $15,000.

Finally a video that incorporates many special effects to tell a story that seems to immerse the viewer in having a feeling of actually being there.  Time lapse video, underwater video and a licensed song are all utilized to showcase a destination in a very compelling light.  I have to share, this video was an award winning travel video and I think you can see why.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=17&v=TT8J3wUX_YY

FINAL TIP Video ROI

A video for your business should not be considered as an expense.  You are making an investment in having a video produced that will achieve above and beyond objectives you have set.  Monetize your objectives, establish goals for how much your video could produce in terms of incremental sales of your company products or services and then work with your video production company on an ROI strategy where they are investing with you to make it happen.  Video is going to be a major marketing tool for a very long time.  This is a sure fire method to find the right video production partner for your business and a best method to ensure you are reaping the financial benefits for your business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marketing ROI

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The whole concept of ROI or Return on Investment is a mystery to most marketing departments but they do know it is a buzz term they need to use. Let’s break down this concept and perhaps the next time you see an ad or a web site that touts ROI you will actually understand how to really know what they are not saying.

ROI is a financial term. You make an investment in a marketing initiative that you have been told or you believe will actually return that investment and then some addition money. That is a positive return, all good right? To truly determine that answer you need to completely understand how to really calculate that ROI.

Start with your “baseline numbers”. These numbers represent what you are doing now in terms of revenue (sales) and expenses to pay for getting that revenue. It is something every company must do in order to show how much money they get to keep after collecting a sale and then paying people, vendors and operating costs to deliver that sale to a buyer.

Working from this baseline, ask yourself or even better the company you are giving your hard earned investment cash to, exactly how much above my baseline will your marketing product or service bring to my business? Then calculate how much will each of your expenses go up as a result of now increasing your sales number. Finally, add in the total cost of the marketing product or service. Take your total new sales number and deduct the increased expenses and additional cost of the marketing product or service to arrive at your ROI.

Is this still a worthy ROI? What happens if you agree to move ahead and then find out nothing much changed and you have now spent the cash on the marketing product or service? There is no chance that company who boasted about ROI will be there to give you back your money!

Your best solution is to work with a company that agrees to be an investor with your company. That model means they stand behind what they say they can do to increase your sales and maintain your expenses to achieve a measured bottom line ROI. They back that up with agreeing to make a profit from their work only if they actually deliver a measured ROI to you. Anything else is simply a lot of marketing fluff and has no place with a term called ROI.

Hidden Gems

Concept of hipster travel traveler travelling and shopping. Hat Sun Glass Smartphone tablet compass map Cup of Coffee and passport on wooden table background.Copy Space and Vintage tone

Travel experiences are without a doubt the type of travel consumers are looking for today. Trips are out, experiences are in. Travelers want to be immersed in their travel experience, gone are the run of the mill fly here, take a bus tour there and visit all of the tourist spots along with thousands of other travelers.

The good news is the world has a ton of travel experiences to offer and there are a lot of travel companies that have discovered some very unique way of experiencing them. These once in a lifetime experiences are out there and ready to become a part of a lifetime travel experience for the traveler’s that so very much want that. Problem is, these great experiences are many time so hard to locate that most travelers will never be able to actually take advantage of them.

During the past year, I have found it to be really hard to find the experience of a lifetime. I waded through online searches, numerous travel magazines and even some old fashioned travel catalogs (yes, they still exist in a world of digital media, there are those volumes of trips all nicely bound up and at your disposal just by asking). When I finally found some great experiences I then had the task of exactly how do I find out more? That got me to static web sites with pictures of what I guess I was supposed to be moved by. Yes, in an age of video and VR technology, there are still travel companies that want to inspire you with still photos of destinations and people.

What a shame that with so much to offer that travel companies are still in the dark ages when it comes to bringing their experiences to life for potential customers. Alas there are but a few choices that not only provide the ability to actually find an experience just by searching for it on a browser but when you get to that experience, you can interact with your dreams for being a part of it. Maybe there is hope yet.

Travel Trends Point Towards Digital Marketing

According to Statista, total retail travel sales across the globe reached $22.049 trillion, up 6.0% from the previous year. By 2019, the online travel industry is forecast to grow to 762 billion U.S. dollars.

A majority of travel buyers are utilizing varies web based platforms and sites to gather information, read reviews or to make reservations. According to the Association of British Travel Agents, 76% of UK internet users booked their travel using an online platform while in the US, E Marketer estimated 52% of travel buyers used an online platform. This is evidence that makes digital marketing for the travel industry a critical success factor.

Travel buyers want to be immersed in their travel experience, even before they leave their home to begin the journey. Virtual Reality offers a travel buyer the opportunity to take a test drive on what they will experience in a given destination. Using VR to bring your travel buyer on that walk on the beach, or a hike up the mountain pass, all from the comfort of their home would have seemed impossible just a few years ago.

Today all of that and more is available and travel destinations that see it and embrace it will no doubt reap the rewards. But this is an industry with a history of being last to adopt and for those who continue to wait it out, well the future is just not as good.

Bringing the World of Travel into your Living Room

Let’s face it – when we hang out at those boring functions we all attend, the conversations don’t get lively until someone pipes up about their recent trip. Travel has long been a favorite ice breaker at any event and it continues to be the number one thing people now have on their Bucket List.

While many of us dream for most it remains just that. The reality is life happens and that great travel experience just seems to become more and more elusive. Now those dreams can actually come to you instead of you having to travel to it. The advent of having high definition and virtual reality travel video content delivered through an Over the Top Digital Media Network is here and it is growing fast.

What exactly is OTT?

While you may not recognize the terminology you will know it when you see it. If you are among the millions of consumers who are tired of the Cable Channel vortex, where you have to pay for channels you may never watch, you are a potential OTT consumer. OTT is simply broadcasting video content over the Internet. Apple TV, Roku, HuLu and even Amazon are already bringing the cable cord cutters what they want. Content they choose to watch and in most cases, without those annoying commercials.
Smart Travel Industry destinations and companies are catching on. With a dedicated Travel Channel they can target specific buyers who are not seeking to roam through the vast forest known as YouTube to find exactly what they want to see. OTT provides that and more! If you’re into living the travel dream from your couch, this is the model for you. Get ready to throw that Travel Party and invite your guests to come along and share your Bucket List.