As a destination marketer, you have a keen understanding of what drives interest in your property and how to attract travelers. But while you may be running effective marketing campaigns that incorporate social media, email, and other channels, you may not have yet fully considered immersive media and all of its associated benefits.
This segment of the market is expected to grow twentyfold by 2020, making it a great time to jump in with both feet. It’s easier and more convenient than ever to create a 360-degree friendly campaign, or to enhance an existing campaign with game-changing virtual elements.
Here are my top five ways destination marketers can use immersive experiences to complement existing marketing campaigns.
Turn your emails and website into experiences
You may have finely tuned your email subject lines and website copy to ensure it’s engaging and on-brand. But also consider making these channels even more powerful by adding interactive VR experiences. An email promoting a new culinary tour can come complete with a virtual dine-around. Your website’s landing page can include a walking tour through the center of town. Whatever you have already been doing, 360-degree content can deliver your brand message in a more sensory-rich and visceral way.
Whatever you have already been doing, 360-degree content can deliver your brand message in a more sensory-rich and visceral way.
Deepen video use on social media
Even if you already have a robust social media presence, you could probably be doing more with video. Facebook has doubled-down on its promotion of video. According to Digiday, videos get seven times the exposure than a non-video link does. Earlier this year, Facebook made live streaming of 360-degree videos easier than ever for users of devices such as the Gear 360, Insta360 Nano, or Air. Posting 360-degree videos of your destination, whether live-streamed or not, is more likely to end up in front of viewers and catch their interest.
Launch a 360-degree video contest
User-generated content is a proven way to engage users on social media and you may already be encouraging visitors to share photos of your destination or to tweet about it using a particular hashtag. But consider taking this strategy a step further by encouraging visitors to post 360-degree videos of their experiences at your destination. This is still a relatively new technology for many travelers (and their followers), and this novelty can help boost its impact.
For marketers concerned that the average person might still be intimidated by the new technology of 360-degree video, launching a contest with an award such as a return trip to the destination or sizable gift card will do wonders for overcoming these barriers to entry. Also consider providing step-by-step instructions or even loaning out 360-degree cameras on property to help clear the path for first-timers.
Add VR to in-person events
Are in-person events that target travelers, influencers, or members of the media part of your marketing mix? If so, adding an element of virtual reality is an inexpensive way to make your events far more impactful. Whether hosting a trade show booth, a press event, or a promotion to spotlight new destination offerings to tourists, having VR headsets on hand that visitors can try on right then will allow them to actually experience what you are offering, rather than just hear you describe it.
Since immersive technology is still a relatively new channel for many people, this gives members of your marketing team the opportunity to serve as a “guide” for first-time users, helping direct them through the experience and ensuring participants are using high-quality viewing tools.
Even if your brand message is strong and you feel you are leveraging your various channels effectively, there is a good chance that adding VR will help take your marketing to the next level.
Don’t go it alone
If this is your organization’s first campaign, it’s wise to consider getting outside help. Reach out to a production company that specializes in creating VR content, or have a consultation with an expert in how to activate this kind of marketing content. They’ll be able to explain the new technology and help ensure you’re following best practices. This will help you get the most marketing potential out of your VR experience.
YouVisit works with the leading hotels, DMOs, and more to create immersive experiences that convert. With YouVisit, it’s an easy four-step process. First, we collectively brainstorm on a concept for an experience that will help you achieve your business metrics.
Secondly, the YouVisit Studios team comes to you and captures and produces your location in VR. Thirdly, combined with the power of YouVisit’s Aria platform, we create an engaging immersive experience available across mobile, desktop, and VR. The last step: Integrating your new experience into your existing marketing efforts.
Even if your brand message is strong and you feel you are leveraging your various channels effectively, there is a good chance that adding VR will help take your marketing to the next level. Whether that means expanding your use of 360-degree video on social media, or adding virtual experiences to in-person events, VR can enhance any marketing campaign.
For more travel ideas, download our free ebook, the Virtual Reality Playbook.
Alex Daniel is a travel writer and content strategist living in Brooklyn.