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Visual storytelling for travel brands

Today at the Eye for Travel conference at Hotel Nikko in San Francisco, I'm giving a presentation on the subject "Visual Storytelling to grab your customers."

I spoke at Eye for Travel two years ago when Cruiseable was just about to launch, and the gathering for travel executives has come a long way, with a full-fledged startup alley now as well as speakers and attendees from both the travel sector (Trivago, Hotel Tonight, Viator) and outside the sector (AARP, Google, Facebook). 

As I always do, I've made the presentation available for download on SlideShare and embedded it here. (Susie Conley of Viator, Robecta Ma of Cathay Pacific and moderator Dwight Sholes are also on the panel — if you're at Eye for Travel, come on by at 2:50 pm today!) 

Stats on the mobile video tsunami

As our culture becomes increasingly centered on visual media, the need to revamp your content strategy to focus rich visuals, especially mobile video, is becoming more urgent. Consider the 2017 Cisco VNI Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast:

  • Today, mobile video content makes up 60% of all mobile data traffic
  • By 2020, that figure will increase to 75% globally, 77% in U.S.
  • Average smartphone usage is growing 38% per year worldwide
  • Key finding: 48% of millennials view video solely on their mobile device
  • Over 36% of mobile users watch videos 5 minutes+ in length on a daily basis, dispelling the myth that long-form video doesn't work online

3 major takeaways for brands

I'm suggesting three major takeaways for travel companies — and, yes, brands in other sectors — to embrace:


Find and activate your Treys. There's only so much of Trey Ratcliff, founder of the travel blog Stuck in Customs, to go around. But there's a universe of visual creatives creating and sharing video and rich visuals on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Pinterest.

Blogger Bridge, a platform with more than 4,500 travel bloggers, photographers, videographers and podcasters who've opted in.
Blogger Bridge, a platform with more than 4,500 travel bloggers, photographers, videographers and podcasters who've opted in.

A good starting point is BloggerBridge, founded by my friend and Cruiseable Advisor Chris Christensen. It's a platform where more than 4,500 travel bloggers, photographers, videographers and podcasters have signed up to receive offers to work with brands. Visit Britain used Blogger Bridge to fly fans of the Premier League from the U.S. to Britain and put them up for a week in return for authentic blog dispatches (with an emphasis on video) before, during and after key football games. In a similar campaign, Visit Dubai connected with influencers and invited them to spend a week in Dubai and live stream their experiences via Periscope.  

Make use of Facebook Live, which, when you think about it, is an interactive storytelling platform

Me? I'd probably prioritize Instagram above Periscope. And don't forget the most effective way to connect with your customers today: live-streaming. Make use of Facebook Live, which, when you think about it, is an interactive storytelling platform. 

Depending on whether you have a marketing team capable of handling outreach campaigns in house (most companies don't), you may want to consider enlisting a digital marketing firm like Tradable Bits, Chute or Chris Abraham's Gerris digital or a tech startup like RivetWorks to help create and imlpement a user-generated content social campaign or contest.


Optimize for mobile video. The mobile bandwagon? It's now a tsunami. So make sure videos on your site are properly encoded for mobile devices — including the call to action buttons — and make sure you test and iterate to meet the expectations of the next generation of travelers who will engage with you via their smartphones.


Be human & tell stories. While you should be micro-targeting and tailoring your content to specific subsets, don't forget to Infuse humor (see the travel section of, compassion and universality into your media sharing. These days, we need more media that bring us together instead of pulling us apart. 

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JD Lasica
I'm Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of Cruiseable. Follow your cruise bliss to any land where it may lead. Let's connect! I'm @jdlasica on Twitter.