Travel & Hospitality Industry Outlook 2014: Opportunities for Branded Video Content

Though we’ve combined the travel industry and hospitality industry in this outlook, the two differ in their marketing approach. While the travel industry is embracing digital advertising, the hospitality industry lags behind. According to eMarketer, the travel industry is expected to spend $4.15 billion on digital advertising in 2014.

Travel Industry Digital Ad Spend
On the other hand, in 2013, hotels and resorts in the U.S. were projected to spend only 28% of their marketing dollars on digital advertising. (Source) As consumers become more dependent on online travel/hospitality resources, an increase in digital ad spending will become paramount.

In this outlook, we’ll take a closer look at how airlines, hotels, online travel agencies (OTAs) and destination marketers are using online video to attract new business and promote the idea of leisurely travel.


According to a November 2013 report from Google, 68% of leisure travelers begin researching online before they decide where or how to travel. The Internet is also a channel that drives inspiration for new travel experiences—a fact that 61% of travelers agree with.

To engage these consumers, airlines have had to expand their online offerings not only in terms of websites and owned media, but also in terms of quality marketing materials. Hence, an increase in online video advertising. Below, we’ll examine a few standout brands that are using video content to foster consumer-brand relationships and ultimately drive ticket sales.

Turkish Airlines

With more than 250 videos and 267 million views on its official YouTube channel, Turkish Airlines has seen great viral success with several of its spots. The most famous, “Kobe vs. Messi: The Selfie Shootout,” has earned more than 138 million views and 967,000 social shares. With this kind of traction, it landed at the top of viral video ad charts across the Web.

The year before, Kobe and Messi appeared in a Turkish Airlines ad titled, “Kobe vs Messi: Legends on Board.” Though this didn’t perform as well as the Selfie Shootout in terms of viewership, it still managed to generate more than 108 million YouTube views and 1.4 million social shares.

Turkish Airlines also took the opportunity to capitalize on an Internet trend—the epic pool dunk. The airline brought together a group of Euroleague basketball players to pull off the stunt, and the video ended up earning 3 million YouTube views and 46,000 social shares.


Another airline with a viral hit on its hands, WestJet houses 270 videos on its YouTube channel. This airline has embraced a human element, and it’s reflected in the brand’s video marketing efforts. This past Christmas, “WestJet Miracle” took the online world by storm, racking up more than 36 million YouTube views and 2.4 million social shares.

The video below also features a special surprise from WestJet. It has earned more than 900,000 YouTube views.

Virgin America

Virgin America captured the attention of online video viewers when the “cool safety video” trend picked up speed. Its safety video generated 9.8 million YouTube views, eclipsing the view count of any other video on its channel.


According to a study from VFM Interactive and Omni Hotels, 67% of consumers that viewed rich media were more likely to book than those who did not.

Additionally, “The increase in conversion rate for consumers who viewed a hotel video was 2.9 times that for consumers who only viewed virtual tours. The increase was even greater (3.6 times) for consumers who viewed both virtual tours and video.”

Though hotels tend to allocate most of their budget to direct-response marketing, these chains have boosted their online video marketing/branding efforts to cater to content-hungry consumers.

Fun Fact: 62% of travelers watch videos made by hotels, airlines, cruises, tours, etc. 

Disney Parks

With a healthy mix of tours and fun, related content, Disney Parks keeps its 245,000 YouTube subscribers constantly entertained with new material.


From travel tips to destination experiences to insider tours, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts seeks to educate and inspire with its video content.


Along with videos highlighting its resorts and destinations, Hyatt also focuses in on a human element with its “In a Hyatt World, We Care for Our Communities,” campaign.

Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)

“In 2014, the majority of the US travel industry’s digital ad spending will come from a handful of online travel agencies (OTAs). These agencies’ focus on direct-response tactics will drive trends for the industry as a whole.” –eMarketer

With so many different online travel agency options, differentiation has become key. Many OTAs are getting creative with video content to influence and prompt action.

Travel Videos Influence Prompt Action

Each one of these OTAs has a unique marketing focus from Rewards Programs to William Shatner to the Traveling Gnome.


Orbitz places importance on its Rewards Program and produces creative video content to promote it.


Most of the company’s marketing materials feature “The Travelocity Roaming Gnome.” By creating a brand ambassador, Travelocity is ensuring that consumers have an easily recognizable representation of the brand.


Priceline has also chosen memorable brand ambassadors: The Negotiator aka William Shatner and Kaley Cuoco. They’ve helped to drive views and shares for Priceline content; this first video below racked up more than 3 million YouTube views.

Destination Marketers

According to Google, 57% of people watch videos from travel-related channels. YouTube data also shows that travelers are spending more time watching online videos—views of travel-related content are up 118% year-over-year (YOY). Obviously because of its visual nature, online video is the perfect advertising medium for travel destinations. Take a look at how these marketers are using video content to win over travelers.

Visit Las Vegas

Las Vegas is a huge travel destination, attracting almost 40 million tourists in 2013. The Visit Las Vegas YouTube channel has no shortage of videos; here are a couple standouts.

Visit California

California Dream 365

Visit California’s current campaign, “Dream 365,” boasts some incredible video content. The YouTube page is beautifully designed and encourages visitors to get lost in all of California’s wondrous sights and sounds.

Pure Michigan

Though Michigan isn’t as big of a tourist destination as Los Vegas or California, Pure Michigan has done an excellent job of portraying the state and its offerings through online video. The channel’s videos have received more than 4 million total views.

Taking into consideration the information above, below is our 2014 outlook for the travel & hospitality industry.

For the travel and hospitality industry, the two areas we predict will see the most growth this year and into 2015 are mobile marketing and online video advertising.

A report from Google and Ipsos MediaCT found that two out of three U.S consumers watch online videos when they’re thinking about taking a trip. This presents a huge opportunity for travel and hospitality brands. Consider the fact that views of branded videos are up 394% YOY, and there is absolutely no excuse for not investing in video content.

Already, there has been a spike in travel-related video uploads. From 2012 to 2013, uploads increased 190%. This growth outpaces all of the other major categories on YouTube.

It’s true, many brands do have the basics in terms of online video, but consumers want more. There needs to be a clear value exchange. Google found that 88% of YouTube travel searches focus on destinations, attractions/points of interest or general travel ideas. The industry will begin to incorporate broader storytelling, tips & tricks and other valuable information into video marketing efforts.

Keep in mind, regardless of whether people are leisure travelers or business travelers, online video plays a role in every step of the purchase funnel.

Online Video Purchase Funnel

We also expect travel and hospitality brands to partner with influential travel vloggers. Travel vlogs receive 4X more social engagement than other types of travel content on YouTube. If brands want to capitalize on these engaged audiences, they’ll need to develop influencer relationships.

Influencer marketing will also help companies reach the highly-coveted 18 to 24-year-old market, as 44% of this age group subscribes to travel vlogs.

Travel Channel Subscribers

Another focus for travel and hospitality brands will be driving YouTube channel subscriptions. Video viewers want to be able to connect with brands on a deeper level. This year to date, subscriptions to the top travel channels on YouTube have increased 106% YOY.

*Take note! These subscribers watch 86% longer per view than nonsubscribers.*

In 2014, eMarketer expects the U.S. travel industry to spend $1.47 billion on mobile marketing and $2.68 billion on desktop.

US Travel Industry Digital Ad Spending
It’s no surprise that as consumers adopt a more mobile lifestyle, mobile video views steadily increase. In 2013, mobile devices accounted for roughly 30% of all travel video views, with mobile viewing up 97% on smartphones and 205% on tablets YOY.

Though few travel activities are limited to a single screen, mobile plays an important role. Not only do mobile ads help consumers remember certain brands, but they also prompt action. Sixty-eight percent of travelers recall ads viewed on smartphones compared to 59% on desktop, and 71% of travelers who saw ads on a smartphone took action compared to just 63% on desktop. (Source)

But what kind of actions are these mobile users taking?

  • 30% looked for more information on their device
  • 25% clicked an ad
  • 24% visited the website of the advertiser

Though travel and hospitality brands are making moves to cater to mobile consumers, here are a few ways travel brands can improve their mobile device experience.

Travel Brands Improve Mobile

No matter the device or marketing channel, promotional efforts from the travel and hospitality industry will always be about differentiation. Though some brands are going above and beyond to produce engaging, entertaining content, most brands are sticking to the basics. In order to come out on top, companies within the travel and hospitality industry MUST create relevant, valuable, humanized marketing materials that can be used to reach consumers on their preferred devices and platforms.

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