Why Travel Marketers Are Embracing Visual Storytelling | Sojern

Why Travel Marketers Are Embracing Visual Storytelling

April 16, 2019

This article oringally appeared on Phocuswire

It’s no secret travel marketers must find new ways to reach consumers and ultimately drive booking revenue. However, consumers are turning to new forms of media for trip recommendations – creating an increasingly complex digital marketing ecosystem.

While marketers have their work cut out when navigating these complexities, one common thread binds these channels together: They’re all forms of visual storytelling.

For travel marketers, this is an incredible opportunity to connect with consumers in new and exciting ways.

A video tour of a destination they’ve always dreamed of visiting spurs them down the path to purchase, bringing potential travelers one step closer to clicking that “book” button. Visual storytelling is real and it’s compelling – giving marketers the power to use stories to influence purchasing behavior.

We recently surveyed more than 600 travel marketers from 46 countries to find out their 2019 priorities and where they are investing. Visual storytelling was at the top of the list.

In fact, after Google, YouTube is the second most-used search engine. Facebook and Instagram Stories have also taken off: As of spring 2018, more than 100 million Instagrammers were watching or sharing visual content live every day.

While video represented only 9% of travel marketing ad spend for 2018, 46% of respondents reported they plan to allocate more to video ads in 2019.

Why? Because it all comes down to visual storytelling.

Here are four reasons marketers are embracing visual storytelling as part of their 2019 strategies.

It Brings Digital Campaigns to Life

Nothing prompts a consumer to scour travel sites more than a stunning video highlighting an exotic destination. It inspires FOMO – fear of missing out – and that’s exactly the point.

Visual storytelling allows travel marketers to showcase their properties and experiences through digital video ads.

By telling a story, these digital ads create excitement among prospective and booked travelers, giving them something tangible to watch (and replay!) when they’re counting the days until their next trip. It elicits an emotional reaction, making it the perfect medium for potential travelers to consume information.

“We are running multi-platform campaigns to increase the relevancy with our audience. And we are investing in digital video campaigns mainly under an integrated communication strategy that conveys powerful, authentic stories and intrigues our audience to find out more about our destination,” says Lilian Moschidou, marketing director at This is Athens & Partners.

This increased consumption mixed with powerful storytelling makes video the wave of the future – and 2019 is just the start.

It’s Social by Nature

A key trend for travel advertising this year is social media video. By leveraging social channels such as Instagram and YouTube, travel marketers are inspiring users to book both spontaneous and planned trips.

In 2019, 54% of travel marketers report that they plan on using YouTube advertising, percent 50% plan on using Instagram Stories and 49% plan on using Facebook Stories to actively engage travelers.

With “always on” consumers who are highly mobile, social media video is the perfect channel to inspire about where to go next – sometimes while they’re currently on a trip!

Social media is a great way to reach consumers, because they aren’t just consuming, they’re sharing. New discoveries are being shared with friends and family, creating a connected ecosystem for travel marketers to target. In fact, the airline industry is leading the charge, with airlines allocating 12% of 2019 advertising spend towards video.

Programmatic Video Delivers

As consumers continue to adopt live-streaming videos and connected televisions, travel marketers are taking a more targeted approach.

Programmatic for video allows them to define their target market and deliver engaging video ads based on behavioral data. Given the targeting capabilities, in 2019 travel marketers are flocking to programmatic video to reach their audiences.

For travel marketers, programmatic is a golden opportunity to deploy mobile-first and cross-channel video strategies.

With travelers consuming information across multiple devices, programmatic video gives marketers access to consumers all year round, changing what was traditionally a seasonal industry. They can now reach audiences with messages anytime and anywhere, giving consumers inspiration to book any time of year.

It Will Continue to Evolve

Travel marketers are seeing success with video, and it will certainly continue to evolve. While many travel advertisers remain unfamiliar with connected television (CTV) advertising, about one in three plan on using CTV in 2019, which is a 70% percent increase over 2018.

With CTV, buyers can purchase inventory from streaming device manufacturers, programmatic platforms and broadcast networks and show different ads to different people.

Not only is this teeing up video to become more tailored than ever before, it’s giving marketers the power to deliver the right message to the right audience at exactly the right time.

Consumers are connected and ready to watch what brands have to offer – so long as it’s engaging content. In the coming year, travel marketers will capitalize on this opportunity by taking storytelling to the next level with robust video strategies.

Interested in reading more about how travel marketers are using visual formats? Download our State of the Industry: The 2019 Report on Travel Advertising.

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About Stephen Taylor

Stephen is a Brit living in San Francisco—from where he oversees the global sales, operations, product, partnerships and marketing for the core Sojern business. Throughout his career, Stephen has been a pioneer of data-driven marketing and is passionate about building global businesses. Most recently, Stephen served as the CEO of Qype, acquired by Yelp. Prior to that, he led Yahoo!’s European consumer business and was EMEA Managing Director for Overture. Early in his career, Stephen was one of the first employees at Air Miles (acquired by British Airways). Stephen graduated with honors from the University of Birmingham and is a non-executive director of several other internet and mobile businesses.

Stephen Taylor About the author

Stephen is a Brit living in San Francisco—from where he oversees the global sales, operations, product, partnerships and marketing for the core Sojern business. Throughout his career, Stephen has been a pioneer of data-driven marketing and is passionate about building global businesses. Most recently, Stephen served as the CEO of Qype, acquired by Yelp. Prior to that, he led Yahoo!’s European consumer business and was EMEA Managing Director for Overture. Early in his career, Stephen was one of the first employees at Air Miles (acquired by British Airways). Stephen graduated with honors from the University of Birmingham and is a non-executive director of several other internet and mobile businesses.