Survey: 71 Percent of Travelers Look to Video for Vacation Ideas

This content is created collaboratively by Skift and Travel Channel.

Today’s travel audiences use multiple resources — online, video, print, social media — to collect information on their next or future travel destinations.

In November 2014, Travel Channel completed an ethnography study with U30 Research, For Love of Travel, to understand how network viewers as well as travel enthusiasts more broadly use, and connect emotionally with, video in their travel-related research and planning.

Unlike online and print resources, which are used both to plan and inspire travel, video is almost exclusively used as an inspirational travel resource. U30 Research also found that viewers relate to video content along one or more of the following five spectrums:

Corroborating these findings, Travel Channel has just completed its Cracking the Code on “Go-To” Lifestyle Programming study. Conducted as a 20-minute online survey with Open Mind Research, the panel consisted of 400 men and women ages 25-49. Single household income exceeded $50,000 ($60,000+ for dual-income households), and all respondents had indicated an interest in travel programming generally, as well as in Travel Channel and/or relevant competitors.

A key finding from the study  is that for travel video to be truly “go-to,” relatability and authenticity are crucial attributes.

Relatability speaks to travel scenarios into which the viewer can project him or herself. Such scenarios include, but are not limited to, common life events, family vacations, relocating, and exploration closer to home. Travel video that is relatable inspires the viewer to take action. And such videos feature a host and/or characters that are empathetic; that ask the questions the viewer would ask; that experience food, sites, sounds that the viewer would want to experience. Travel Channel’s research demonstrates that who is in front of the camera is at least as crucial to making a place come alive for the viewer as are beautiful shots of the place itself.

As for authenticity, 86% of the people surveyed in Cracking the Code said that they want “… video content that gives you a local/authentic view into a place/culture.” Such a point of view rhymes in their mind with a more honest, less “glossy” take on locations, and avoids heavily scripted content and contrived programmatic formats.

Among other findings from Cracking the Code, travel content viewers tend to place more value in content that offers both tangible takeaways and cultural connection.

• 77% of respondents expect to learn something new in the travel content they consume.
• 77% expect travel content to feature things they want to do or dream about doing.
• 76% are looking for cultural connection in the travel content they watch.
• 72% look to travel content to spark curiosity to “know more.”
• 71% look to travel content to provide ideas for a next vacation.

Finally, Travel Channel has found repeatedly in its research that producers of travel video would do well to balance between inspiring a viewer with aspirational travel destination on the one hand, and turning them off with exclusive, over-the-top getaways on the other. Destinations that are out-of-reach in the present day but on a viewer’s “bucket list” are legitimate. Whereas, content that focuses too narrowly on, say, luxury destinations or ultra-expensive trips will likely backfire.

This content was created collaboratively with Travel Channel.

Moving Images explores the new era of travel video, from new platforms and technology to best practices from forward-thinking brands and content creators. View the full dashboard.

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