For most people stuck at home during the pandemic, the only outlet for their wanderlust has been what they could watch on their TV screens and mobile devices.
Streaming movies and series has therefore become an important new source of travel inspiration. It may have started with catching the latest shows online, but quickly gained popularity as more content was created and made available for wannabe travellers.
This marked increase in viewing time means consumers have seen – and been inspired by – a world of exotic backdrops. The relationship is so important, that UNWTO and Netflix have recently partnered to publish a report analysing the role of movies and series as drivers of tourism – City A.M.
The likes of Hinterland on Netflix inspired viewers with scenic images of the Welsh countryside. The super popular Squid Games series has piqued curiosity about what it may be like to visit South Korea. Taking culinary journeys with Anthony Bourdain, on platforms such as Hulu, YouTube, Sling and Amazon have made mouths water for whatever cultural nosh he was sampling. Yes, there’s a whole range of different viewing options to experience vicariously from the safety of an armchair.
In fact, “In 2020, the town of Porthgwarra, Cornwall, UK, saw 50 percent more tourists owing to the success of the TV show Poldark,” reports Outlook Traveller.
It’s not just about the destinations; it’s also about sought-after lifestyle experiences. Amadeus coined it ‘wanderlust streaming’ and it’s yet another avenue for travel companies to explore and exploit.
How to get in on the action
Don’t have capacity to produce a Hollywood-style movie in your current destination? You seriously don’t have to. You could piggyback off existing programmes that showcase your destination and work the content into your marketing campaigns. Or, simply set up your own livestream events.
Essentially, it’s about bringing the experiences that these shows and events capture into the living rooms and onto the digital devices of travellers, who are busy thinking about where to go and what to do next – in real time, via virtual participation. Follow this up with opportunities for them to book the experience they’ve just immersed themselves in digitally, in real life. Do this by:
- Going basic with a webcam, mobile phone or GoPro – point your lens pointed at an activity or special event you wish to showcase, or a particular feature in your destination or at your property;
- Deciding what you want to promote and set up your equipment. You could, for example, design a programme of regular live-streaming events and share the schedule with your targeted customers, so that checking in on your site becomes routine;
- Choosing a livestream platform: directly on your website, or on Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Instagram Live, IGTV, TikTok, Twitter, Vimeo or LinkedIn Live;
- Activating your platform’s interactive options to encourage more engagement during your event: a comments or live Q&A section, a polling feature or URL links to make a purchase;
- Inviting your target market to subscribe to the event – entice them with specials or discount offers for participation, a competition with prizes, and even incentivise them to share the invitation among their family and friends;
- Recording your livestream event and saving it to video. Make it downloadable and publish it to your various sites, giving you the opportunity to promote any products relevant to this content; and,
- Using any viewer feedback collected during the event to inform future marketing assets and products.
Alternatively, try partnering with content producers who market your destination. For example, if wildlife experiences fall within your niche, you could support and collaborate with the likes of WildEarth.
How some travel brands stream wanderlust
During lockdowns, streaming events proved a great source of relief, education and entertainment while helping people to maintain contact with the outside world. And they continue to feed the dreamers – see below:
This luxury accommodation brand has been using the powerful medium of immersive video to pay it forward to existing and prospective clients who are stuck indoors, by offering free (virtual) safaris from their sofas.
This Hong Kong-based online agency has generated significant conversions on tours, restaurants and other products through its mobile-friendly live-stream feature, offered in tandem with exclusive promotion codes.
This international travel brand has amassed a huge archive of video content from streamed events saved onto YouTube, thereby covering a range of valuable tourism experiences including safaris and game lodge experiences.
This tour operator hosts live-stream feeds directly on their website, with recommended itineraries and accommodation options to match.
Streaming is nothing new, but the fact that it is now trending as another platform for travel research and marketing provides travel brands with greater opportunities to capture the attention and imaginations of millions of online content consumers – all of whom are mulling over and then planning their very next trips.