IgoUgo embarked on a seemingly novel Facebook and video strategy today by bringing video players with destination content directly to your Facebook wall.
It's all part of the review site's new strategy which frees video from the shackles of the dream phase of travel planning and makes it more of an integral part of later stages of the trip-planning process.
IgoUgo rolled out the new features, highlighted on its homepage, today. The new homepage feature looks like this:
The landing page and Things To Do section of IgoUgo have been newly stocked with 250 sometimes-quirky and user-generated YouTube videos about activities and such in IgoUgo's 50 top global cities. Some of the videos look purposefully amateurish and others have professional polish.
And, here's where things get interesting.
When you opt to share the video player on Facebook, it deposits the video player, with access to numerous videos, on your Facebook wall, where your friends can view it, play around with it and share it with their friends, too. It looks like this:
So, IgoUgo has diverged from the knee-jerk Facebook strategy of some companies to merely plant new features on their own Facebook pages.
Instead, IgoUgo has set it up so some of the action now takes place off its own site and Facebook page and has taken its business to where the people are -- on your Facebook wall and your friends' Facebook walls.
And, the video player isn't just the ordinary kind of player that you'd find on YouTube or embedded elsewhere. Here's another image of one:
These IgoUgo-branded video players come via a partnership with Coincident TV. The players house not just one video, but video libraries and have interactive capabilities.
Which prompts the question: How is IgoUgo going to monetize trip-planning activity far away from IgoUgo.com and on your Facebook wall?
Raj Beri, director of IgoUgo, says the Coincident TV partnership would enable IgoUgo to install a flight or hotel price comparison booking engine in the spot on the video player where you see the airplane icon today.
In other words, there's ample room for IgoUgo to bring in some advertising dough.
The video player could also facilitate content sponsorships with destination management organizations (DMOs), Beri says.
Citing the benefits of engaging users in social media, Aditi Gokhale, IgoUgo's general manager, says "it makes sense for IgoUgo to be less about being a site, but more about having a presence on Facebook where our users go."
IgoUgo, which is part of Travelocity and the Sabre mothership, is focusing on distributing the video players, with their video library capabilities, on Facebook for now and will monetize them later.
"Facebook is just the first stop for us," Beri says. "We want to do it on a number of sites."
Twitter would be an obvious next stop, officials say.
IgoUgo's new social media foray is part of a strategy revamp.
Gokhale says trip-planning sites "have done a pretty crappy job -- pardon my French -- with video" in part by relegating it to the inspiration phase of travel planning.
"We see a huge opportunity for video as part of the trip-planning process and we want to be the leaders," Gokhale says.
The new strategy, which IgoUgo sees as a differentiator, grew out of a beta in December when it placed video players on pages for 10 destinations and found:
- More than 20% of the users on these pages interacted with the videos;
- Viewers watched three videos per session on average;
- Video watchers spent about three times more time on the site than average users; and
- The video users tended to engage with the videos on Things To Do pages and restaurant content -- indicating they likely watched the videos after booking and before the trip.
"People want to see video content in a contextual way and not off to the side," Beri adds.
Today's launch of the video players is just the first stage of a wider rollout.
"We plan to do a lot more things with video to make it more interactive," Beri says.