“How Applebee’s Inspired Our Video Strategy”

Applebee's

When I first got to VisitLEX in July of 2015, I was ready to hit the ground running, and spent my first few weeks making assessments of our current marketing initiatives. During the assessment period, I looked at what currently existed, what did not exist and what areas could be improved. To my surprise, VisitLEX was doing a lot of things right, but as with most tourism organizations, there were areas for improvement.

One of the first areas that I decided to tackle was video. We had been producing lots of videos under the title of “Lex Treks”, that gave you an in-depth look at what to do in Lexington and around the Bluegrass region. These videos were around 3 minutes in length, and featured a narrator with a script and overlaid with scenic shots. And while that format was working, there were two issues. First, the videos were not regularly updated in a timely manner, so some videos were still in circulation after 2 years. Second, that format is the same format that all other destinations were doing, and with a cluttered marketplace, we couldn’t continue down that path if we wanted to elevate our destination brand awareness.

So, after some research, internal discussions and external conversations, we embarked on an aggressive video strategy that we believe will not only elevate the profile of Lexington, but also tell the full story of the destination.

Before I share with you what we are doing, let’s take a look at how important video is in marketing, especially in travel:

  • YouTube is the second-most used search engine after Google
  • 88 percent of YouTube travel searches focus on destinations, attractions/points of interest or general travel ideas
  • Almost 60 percent of travelers watch online videos about their destination
  • 50 percent of all mobile traffic is dedicated to watching videos
  • Users spent an average 5.5 hours each day watching video content in front of a screen in 2015
  • Cisco predicts that by 2017, video will make up a whopping 69 percent of all consumer Internet traffic

The Inspiration. 
I wish I could tell you that the inspiration for our video strategy came from a conference I attended or another destination…but it actually came from an unlikely source – Applebee’s. Applebee’s, and other casual dining restaurants, have always done an excellent job in getting you to visit their locations. Their commercials always make you hungry, thirsty and show customers enjoying those experiences with their friends. And at the end of the day, that is travel. Travel is about the food, the drink and the culture of shared experiences with our family, friends and sometimes strangers.

Our goal moving forward with video was to no longer create these long-form videos that have a narrator and a script. Instead, we were going to produce videos with high-quality imagery, on-screen graphics and a shorter length. Our videos will now be 15 seconds or 30 seconds in length, that coincide with the shorter attention span of humans. Did you know the average attention span of a human is 8 seconds? It is one second less than that of a goldfish!

The Plan. 
Video plays a major role in our overall content strategy, that I internally refer to as “Content 365.” The idea of “Content 365”, is for us to have one piece of content to share every single day of the year, reinforcing our always-on marketing strategy, where visitors can always find something new and different from Lexington. We segmented our videos into our four major brand pillars of which we market and sell the destination. We then took the time to craft video ideas that tell the various stories of Lexington under each brand pillar. Once we developed that list, we realized that a lot of the content we wanted to produce already existed in b-roll format, and we just had to spend time in the editing suite.

Each video gives you a snippet of Lexington, and we hope that snippet is enough to get you research us a bit more and plan a vacation.

The Results (so far). 
As of the publication of this writing, here is where we are:

  • 75+ videos have been produced, and our goal is to reach 104
  • Of those 75 videos, 7 have been published on Facebook receiving 12,781 views
  • Of those 7 videos that have been published on Facebook, the average percentage of completion is 70.4%
  • Of those 75 videos, 5 have been published on Instagram receiving 5,350 views
  • We have posted 4 of these videos YouTube (it’s a process), but we haven’t started pushing out those links yet on our marketing channels – that will be Phase 2.

Is our video strategy the way to go? I don’t know, that’s for you or someone else to figure out. We have plans to distribute these videos to local business and organizations who can use these videos for recruiting employees, students and business owners to the area. One of the reasons I write is so that I can share information with others in hopes that it will inspire them to create something of their own. I hope that after reading this, you will give your video strategy a second look and create something awesome for your destination.

Sources: http://www.skyword.com/contentstandard/news/the-top-10-stats-from-2015-that-show-the-importance-of-video-marketing/http://www.softwareadvice.com/hotel-management/industryview/online-travel-videos-2014/https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/travel-content-takes-off-on-youtube.htmlhttp://www.e-marketingassociates.com/the-importance-of-video-marketing/

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