Engaging travel audiences through 360-degree videoNews / Technology | OnlineBy Viewpoints | March 7, 2017Share This article was originally published on Imagine being able to invite potential customers into your world from the comfort of their sofa, giving them the chance to experience your destination as they sit down in search of their next adventure.NB: This is a viewpoint from Jon Mowat, managing director of Hurricane Video Strategy.We’ve come a long way from the days of sending out promotional ‘guided tour’ VHS tapes to woo would-be guests, and the dawn of 360 video marketing is poised to revolutionise travel advertising.Our minds are hardwired to react to movement, and there’s something innately appealing about video content that lets you take control and manipulate the viewpoint, surveying the action from every angle as if you’re really there.Users don’t even require VR headsets (although they’re relatively cheap and readily available) as both YouTube and Facebook 360 videos employ a click and drag motion that lets you manipulate the action - looking up, down, left, right and behind to create that ‘real life’ effect.You’re probably aware of how quickly video content is taking over the internet, but here’s three reasons why 360-degree video should be central to your marketing strategy: A Google study recently ran two variations of the same ad - a traditional video versus a 360-degree video - and the 360 version triumphed with 41% more ‘earned actions’ (subscribes, shares, and views).82% of consumer internet traffic will be video by the end of the decade - Cisco’s Visual Networking Index.Facebook’s vice president for EMEA region, Nicola Mendelsohn, predicts that the platform will likely “be all video” within the next four years. 360-degree video does have the ability to be heard above the noise, but there needs to be a real emphasis on producing quality output that promises to engage audiences. Let’s take some travel marketing examples that do just that.Panoramic inspirationCreating immersive experiences that titillate the travel bug is the aim of the game, and 360 video is paying dividends for early adopters, such as Expedia’s partnership with Tourism Australia for their ‘How Far’ campaign. (Note: Safari doesn’t currently support 360 playback on YouTube content, so you may need to switch to another browser to watch the film.)From the cliffs of Tasmania, to the kangaroos of Karratha Station, the depths of Ningaloo Reef, to the indigenous tribes of the outback, we’re presented with a vibrant world of activity waiting to be explored.Diving the coral reef and sleeping under the stars of the desert are two prominent dreams on bucket lists all over the world, so being able to get a deeply engaging taste of the action could certainly trigger ticket sales. Indeed, comments from the public are incredibly complimentary:The general response from the 3.5 million viewers has been overwhelmingly positive, and Expedia bookings to Australia have surely soared, contributing to the company’s revenue growing 22.3% year-on-year.Another popular hotspot on the holiday hitlist is the Grand Canyon, and this effort from Visit The USA allows viewers to peer over the edge to whet the appetite and test their head for heights.You really get that ‘butterflies in your tummy’ feeling when you look down - an effect that simply can’t be replicated with standard videos. This particular response might not be for everyone, but there’s no doubting 360’s ability to move you in ways like never before.Again, the three million viewers have great things to say, extending the video’s reach with each comment, organically growing the audience of potential customers.Next up on our tour of tours is Royal Caribbean International’s film showcasing its grand Voyager of the Seas cruise ship. Make sure you ‘look up’ when instructed to gauge just how big this boat is!Flicking through a brochure is fine, and watching a traditional video can give you an accurate idea of what life on board might be like, but nothing beats spinning 360 to get a real feel for the place.It’s surprising how many features are incorporated into this floating city, and being able to move around the family suite gives a sense of assurance over how much space guests can expect.Yet again, 360 video seems to have had the desired effect:Travel operators need to focus on the destination to engage social media audiences, and nothing will bring your particular port of call into sharper focus than going big on 360-degree video.‘Engagement’ is the buzzword that marketing managers the world over are trying to tap into, and the stats suggest that 360 is the way forward.Whether you run a hotel, theme park, airline, cruise ship, bus tour or some form of holiday activity, there are many reasons to pack 360-degree video in your travel marketing kit.NB: This is a viewpoint from Jon Mowat, managing director of Hurricane Video Strategy.