Pinterest. Instagram. The online video explosion. As our digital attention span decreases, photo editing tools are more available, and smartphone and tablet photography become the norm, the Internet is quickly moving from bits of text content to largely visual content.
For industries that rely on visuals to sell their “product,” like the tourism industry, embracing the visual Web and visual social media isn’t about jumping on a new trend – it’s critical to their long-term success.
With 85 percent of Americans using the Internet to plan personal travel, 52 percent using social media for summer vacation inspiration, and 31 percent watching travel-related online video, successful tourism marketers are shifting from print brochures to dynamic websites, interactive smartphone apps and engaging online video.
Through social media, online videos and gaming, Chicago has become one of the hottest destinations in America. ExploreChicago.org, Chicago’s official tourism website, recently added a blog featuring an insider’s city insights, podcasts, an itinerary builder and videos. Location-based games and FourSquare badges, along with free visitor assistance via Twitter, have made its social media presence more interactive and service-oriented. As a result of these new features, the website exceeded 6 million visits in 2011 – a 40 percent increase from 2010.
With one of our clients, Connecticut’s Central Regional Tourism District, we were recently faced with the challenge of showcasing the 65-town tourism district in a way that motivates both residents and tourists to explore the area. Given the rising popularity of visual content, creating a new online travel video series became the obvious answer.
We worked closely with the district to shoot and produce “Non-Stop Connecticut,” a series of Travel Channel-style webisodes that put the spotlight on the region’s popular destinations and local secrets. Hosted by the district’s executive director, the series’ first two videos focus on summer locales along the Connecticut River and shoreline. Since their “premiere” less than one month ago, the videos have generated more than 1,100 views, several inquiries to the district and significant industry buzz.
VISIT Milwaukee, a travel bureau designed to market Milwaukee as a premier destination for conventions, trade shows and leisure travel, recently joined Pinterest to showcase accommodations, destinations, events, landscapes, restaurants and more within the city.
“If a destination is using Pinterest correctly, it’s a gateway that can generate interest that will lead potential visitors to do more research. Ideally they will begin that research on your website,” said Jeannine Sherman, director of public relations for VISIT Milwaukee in a recent GetPinterested.com interview. “Travelers are looking to ‘put themselves in the picture,’ to imagine themselves having fun, whether it’s visiting a museum, going to a festival, dining at a great restaurant or experiencing exciting nightlife. I think this gives us an opportunity to make it easier to make that initial connection and entice them to learn more.”
Are you leveraging the visual Web to successfully market your destination or product? Please share below! If you aren’t but would love to discuss ideas or schedule a Social Media Boot Camp, contact us.