In the past several months, major social sites such as YouTube and Facebook have rolled out support for 360-degree videos, a new media type that promises increased engagement and immersion. For savvy marketers in the hotel and travel industry, this emerging media presents a new and eye-catching way to capture consumers attention.
Here’s what you need to know about 360-degree video, how it’s being used today, and how hotels can capitalize from it:
The terms “immersive video” and “360-degree video” are synonymous. In both cases, the term refers to how viewers can interact with a video. When watching a 360-degree video, viewers can change the perspective of the camera in 360-degree rotations, in real-time as the video plays. On desktop computers this is done with a mouse or trackpad; smartphone users can simply hold their device up and move it around to switch perspective.
There are numerous reasons why 360-degree video is being pushed by major brands, outside of improved immersion. Perhaps one of the most significant is the rise of virtual reality. In 2014, Facebook purchased Oculus VR, the company behind the Rift, one of the most visible VR headsets. The 360-degree videos can be viewed on VR headsets, but they are also a way for viewers without a headset to experience immersive content.
Another reason is the explosive rise of online video consumption, in general. In 2011, adults spent 21 minutes watching digital videos each day. In 2015, this number jumped to one hour and 16 minutes.
To be more specific, Facebook users consume more than four billion videos every day, and YouTube users are watching more than 4.9 billion each day, uploading 300 hours of content per minute. From a financial perspective, this resulted in an estimated 2014 ad revenue of $1.13 billion for YouTube.
The format seems a natural fit for the tourism industry. Many destination marketers and hoteliers have already begun showing off their locations in 360 degrees. And several of them are seeing impressive returns on their investment in the tech.
Walt Disney World posted an immersive video last month, with Goofy taking the viewer on a 360-degree tour of the entire resort, jungle cruise and all. Since the video was posted to Facebook on Nov. 11, it’s garnered nearly 8 million views.
Popular destination spots in Australia have been getting a boost from Qantas—the airline has been using 360-degree video to promote not only Hamilton Island, but also puts viewers in the pilot seat. The videos aim at attracting travelers to a destination with unique experiences – namely, the ability to virtually dive the Great Barrier Reef.
“We have seen a new level of interest in the Great Barrier Reef from our guests in the past 12 months, and I’m sure the Great Barrier Reef virtual vision we’ve created with Qantas will inspire many more to visit given the remarkable visual effects,” Hamilton Island CEO Glenn Bourke told Campaign Brief.
Those “remarkable visual effects” are still fresh enough to help a brand stand out from the crowd—a Pew Research Center study found that web sites with 360-degree video content and other immersive features receive 40 percent more views than competitors without it. Best Western experienced 48 percent more bookings for their hotels that featured immersive video on their website, compared to the competition.
360-degree videos are just a short hop from full virtual reality, which by most expectations is here to stay—VR and augmented reality is expected to be a $150 billion industry by 2020. Companies like Disney, Facebook and Google are investing billions of dollars into the tech already. And the hotels who aren’t already planning their next immersive marketing campaign are behind the game.
About the Author
Abi Mandelbaum is co-founder and CEO of YouVisit, a platform for creating, distributing, and monetizing virtual reality and other immersive experiences across all devices, including headsets, mobile, and desktop.