Skift Take

Social video is winning out as the preferred way for destinations to connect directly with travelers. But it's not just top of funnel awareness. New technology is making it possible to provide an engaging experience all the way from discovery to booking.

Generating demand is forever the challenge of the travel industry. The need for renewal is constant, particularly when looking to attract future generations.

Direct engagement with consumers is the answer for destinations like Iceland that have focused on developing creative social media campaigns such as the Icelandverse, a parody of Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse announcement video. 

The destination has succeeded with its strategy beyond the Icelandverse campaign. Visit Iceland intentionally targets under-40s through creative videos on Facebook and Instagram.

“[It] can be risky, of course, but humor can be a really powerful vehicle for messaging,” said Sigríður Dögg Guðmundsdóttir, head of Visit Iceland, speaking at the inaugural Skift Global Forum East event in Dubai on Wednesday. Visit Iceland works closely with a creative agency and production company to create video-based campaigns that use the brand’s unique tone of voice.

Connecting Directly With Travelers

“It’s important for the destinations to really connect with the potential travelers throughout the marketing funnel,” said Scott Brodows, head of third party advertising at Hopper. He highlighted the importance of destinations to create brand awareness directly with travelers. “When customers are just starting to explore potential places to visit, you want to give them really exciting, engaging content,” he added. 

The inefficiency of paid media and considerable declines in intrusive advertising make social media an attractive tool for destinations to leverage. 

For Beautiful Destinations founder and CEO Jeremy Jauncey, social media’s power lies in how it is present throughout an entire travel buying journey, and it’s particularly effective at the initial stages of demand generation.

“The days of doing one big annual tourism campaign are gone,” said Jauncey. Destinations increasingly understand they need to be constantly present via social media to increase the likelihood of being top of mind.

In his experience working with destinations, creating promotional assets for social media can make a significant and measurable impact.

Ultimately destinations are looking for bookings and not just awareness. However, Brodows suggests that adding video to travel booking apps like Hopper is still worthwhile.” It is important for destinations and really all travel marketers to remember, you should have objectives across all layers of the marketing,” he said.

Engaging Videos to Driving Bookings

Beautiful Destinations is doubling down on the short-form vertical video that has become so popular on platforms such as TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts. However, there are current challenges with the booking journey.” It is very difficult to go from that moment of inspiration when you see a vertical video on social to actually go and transact,” said Jauncey.

The company is now building a platform to provide a seamless experience from inspiration to travel booking. According to Jauncey, this painful experience currently takes place on 38 different sites, while he is looking to maintain the “joy and inspiration” travels feel when discovering a destination or hotel. 

Jauncey shared that he has recruited Brent Hoberman, founder of lastminute.com and Paris Hilton, among other investors, to focus on this space. “I think there will be a lot of movement into that space where people are looking at ways to find looking capabilities in vertical video and certainly unlocking all of those transactions that are originating in social,” said Jauncey.

The direct connection between travel companies and travelers goes beyond video content for Brodows. One example is the success of Hopper’s innovative referral program, allowing travelers to earn carrot cash redeemable against travel experiences. He pointed out that this approach leverages existing customers and avoids the inefficiencies of acquiring new ones. “There’s a lot of opportunity for companies to really think differently and leverage your customers to grow your business […] and by doing that as well, you’ll learn more from them and how they think about you,” said Brodows.

Skift Global Forum 10th Anniversary
September 19-21, 2023
New York City
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Tags: branding, destination marketing, sgfe2022, skift live, social media, video

Photo credit: Sigríður Dögg Guðmundsdóttir, head of Visit Iceland (on screen), Scott Brodows, head of third party advertising at Hopper, Jeremy Jauncey founder and CEO, Beautiful Destinations, with Skift Asia Editor Peden Bhutia on stage at Skift Global Forum East in Dubai. Skift

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