Using Videos to Share Stories

"TRAVEL IS A CATEGORY THAT IS ABOUT TO EXPLODE in terms of the use of video." So says Rick Gell, chief content officer at ROO (www.roo.com), an online video network that, among other things, provides web sites with travel-related videos about things like the local etiquette and customs in Athens or the nightlife in Montreal. Encourage clients to record videos of their travel highlights, and post them on your web site

Consider the source, a skeptic might say, but take one look at the web—from YouTube, to Yahoo!, personal blogs and even the latest incarnation of Travel Agent's web site, www.travelagentcentral.com—and it's not hard to see that video is the new medium of choice online.

Adopting such a tool to your web site can be a useful marketing technique. For starters, posting video will certainly make your web site stand out. Gell says that so far, newspapers have been ROO's main clients. "Travel is something that is just emerging," he notes.

Enhance Your Web Site

Too, videos are a great way to attract a younger clientele. "[Young people] live on computers," Gell says. "That's where they get their news—and that's the next generation of travelers."

To keep things fresh across its different segments, which in addition to travel include news, health, entertainment and other verticals, ROO adds roughly 5,000 new videos a month. "Our focus is to have constant packages of daily topical content," Gell says.

Diversify what you post online by getting creative with different types of video. "We have news, weather, health and food videos, which can be useful in providing regional stories about, for example, the food available in a particular destination," Gell says. Imagine being able to show clients that Athens remained relatively unaffected by Greece's rash of fires this summer?

Get Videos From Multiple Sources

Think outside the box and the use of online video goes way beyond uploading a Prague video to promote your upcoming group excursion there. Encourage clients to submit videos from their most recent trip—booked by you, of course—to your web site. Not only will it serve as a free advertisement of the quality of your business, but it also can help garner the most coveted type of marketing: word of mouth. ROO, like most video hosts, allows users to share videos. "On your site, you can make the decision whether or not you want people to move the video around," Gell says. Another option is to include a link to the video in a newsletter.

ROO earlier this month signed a content deal with GeoBeats (www.geobeats.com), a producer of video travel guides; other partners include Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com) and Travelago (www.travelago.com). The company's clients are spread out across the U.S., United Kingdom and Australia and include big names like Verizon.

"People in the travel industry are going to catch on," Gell says, "and when one company does it, every company is going to feel the need to play along."

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