Tourism Boards Still Aren’t Sold on 360° Destination Videos

Tourism Boards Still Aren’t Sold on 360° Destination Videos

Whether it’s in a Facebook newsfeed or on a trade show floor, 360-degree videos have been increasing in numbers over the past two years. Tourism boards and convention bureaus see potential in these videos, but are still learning how to best present them to travelers.

Since YouTube and Facebook began letting users upload 360-degree videos in 2015, with Facebook adding such videos on mobile last year, brands have more channels to push 360-videos to travelers for trip-planning and inspiration.

Still, some brands aren’t convinced that travelers have enough understanding of how to view 360-videos on their own and are experimenting with virtual reality headsets to showcase these videos at consumer and travel industry events.

That’s the view of Gathan Borden, vice president of marketing at VisitLex, the visitor and convention bureau for Lexington, Kentucky, which released its first 360-degree marketing video on YouTube in March. Borden feels that watching 360-degree videos on desktop or a mobile device could cause distractions for travelers. “Once you put these videos on a platform like Facebook or YouTube you have to use the mouse to click around to see different perspectives,” he said. “People don’t really feel immersed in the experience and that’s why we use Samsung Gear VR headsets.”

VisitLex debuted its “Horses” video (watch below) at a conference for meeting planners in February that was created for both consumers and meeting planners. “It used to be that we were trying to show everyone everything in content marketing videos,” said Borden. “Now we’re trying to be more strategic to talk to you strictly about this horse message or this bourbon message, for example.”

The CVB’s next video about the city’s convention center, for example, only highlights a few rooms of the venue. “Meeting planners can explore the rooms at their own pace and we only want to show them what they need to see to help them make their decisions.”

Destination British Columbia has been producing virtual reality and 360-degree videos since 2014 and said that events remain the vehicles for getting eyeballs to watch the videos but they’re also able to reach more travelers at home on their own devices in 2017. “The cost of 360 has also dropped significantly in last three years,” said Janice Fraser, managing editor of Destination British Columbia. “In the past, we’d usually take 15 VR headsets and help people put them on at events. Now we’ll purchase hundreds of Google Cardboard headsets and give one to everyone at a conference and give them instructions to download a 360 video.”

As more travelers own headsets and devices capable of playing a 360-degree video, Fraser said the tourism board wants travelers to find its 360-degree videos on platforms such as Facebook and YouTube and the content hub on its website. The tourism board is also running some of its 360-degree videos as ads on certain sites using Omnivirt.

CHALLENGES WITH 360-DEGREE VIDEOS

Skift reported in January that while many travelers are interested in more immersive videos only a small percentage of consumers have interacted with them, according to recent survey data. About 31 percent of consumers have heard of 360-degree videos and only 13 percent have tried them, the survey found.

These videos are unique in that travelers can choose their own experience and decide what they see. “One of the challenges for us is choosing those locations and finding the right story to tell through 360,” said Fraser. “How do you build a story that has a beginning, middle and end? What is the action and where is it on screen? ‘Winter Within’ represents skiing in a lonely way, for example, because the only people you see at the resort are the two models in the video but that’s what we decided to go with to protect people who wouldn’t want to be in the video.

Though these videos are still a novelty for many travelers and will likely gain popularity over time, viewing them on mobile phones — even without the need for any headsets — could be problematic. “Mobile phones were actually over-heating when we were playing the videos at first because the file sizes for these videos are so large,” he said. “That’s one challenge that I think people don’t really know how to solve just yet.”

Borden said creating shorter videos to accommodate mobile devices and prevent overheating phones is a priority for future projects. The “Horses” video, for example, is more than four and a half minutes long, nearly two minutes longer than the average 360-degree tourism video.

Through demoing the video in-person, VisitLex also learned most people only watched through the minute and a half mark before indicating that they had seen enough and understood what the destination can offer for horses and racing.

Shorter viewing times are likely related to travelers wearing a virtual reality headset, said Borden, as viewers were watching the videos in virtual reality rather than on a desktop or mobile device. “For future videos, we’re trying to make them shorter and change scenes three times at the most and make sure to have graphics on the screen to help people understand what they’re looking at since sound is not automatically enabled on a lot of devices.”

Destination British Columbia, however, said its 360-degree videos tend to be longer than traditional videos which average 30 seconds to one minute in length. “Part of that is the user experience needs to be longer so that you have a moment to glance around you to see what’s happening because there’s still a learning curve with the technology,” said Fraser.

VistLex is using the Samsung VR mobile app to play its videos at events. “We learned that at first people were watching these videos like traditional 2D videos,” said Borden. “In the beginning of our videos we tell you to look all around because some people don’t understand that. Sometimes the things behind you are the surprising elements like a horse race scene we show when you have to look down to see the start of the race.”

360-DEGREE VIDEOS AS A DIFFERENTIATOR

Measuring the success of 360-degree videos is currently mostly anecdotal, said Borden. “We think we have the hook approach at events,” he said. “Our initial measurement of success is getting people to come to the booth and once they experience the VR to make them say, ‘I didn’t know Lexington had all that.’

VisitLex plans to film a 360-degree video that highlights the city’s bourbon scene because it believes that kind of subject works well for both leisure traveler and meeting planner audiences. “These videos help us stand out and this is an enhancement to the sales process,” said Borden. “They don’t take over but they help people understand some of the experiences to do in Lexington.”

Other tourism boards such as VisitScotlandVisit Philly and the Tourism Authority of Thailand have also recently invested in 360-degree video. The New York Times has also been producing 360-degree videos of destinations.

But in the near term, it appears many destinations are relying on events and virtual realityheadsets to help them understand how travelers engage with 360-degree images and videos that will help them improve and tailor future marketing.

Below are recent examples that demonstrate different approaches to 360-degree videos that are shareable through YouTube.

Visit Idaho: This whitewater kayaking video has plenty of action and energy that keeps the content interesting from start to finish. Most of the scenes don’t drag and transitions between different scenes seem fluid.

 

Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau: Tokyo’s Sendai video highlights local life in the city and puts locals and tourists front and center in many of the scenes. While the lights in each scene are appealing to viewers, the CVB doesn’t make clear what viewers are actually looking at. These videos have also resonated with travelers — most of the CVB’s 360-degree videos have more than half a million views and that only accounts for YouTube.

 

Firstpost in partnership with Incredible India: This is an example of a narrated 360-degree video that clearly explains how travelers should interact with the video and tells them exactly what they’re looking at.

 

Destination British Columbia: “The Winter Within” video is a great example of surprising travelers with 360-degree video. During some scenes, travelers need to toggle the arrows to see the action they’re intended to see which could involve moving up, down, left or right. Though the video gives travelers a solid perspective of what it’s like to ski at Whistler Blackcomb the video is a bit long (3:37). The two skiers in the video, for example, spend about 15 seconds holding a bird that slows down the action.

Photo Credit: Many tourism boards are still learning how travelers want to watch 360-degree videos. Pictured is a still from Visit Idaho’s “Adrenaline Rush” 360-degree video. Visit Idaho
Virtual Reality in Tourism becoming more real

Virtual Reality in Tourism becoming more real

Virtual reality has a place in the tourism industry; stakeholders around the world are realizing this fact and integrating it into their customers’ purchasing experience. In this way, the Australian Tourism Office is offering a 360° video via its YouTube channel allowing people to take a virtual tour of the country and New Caledonia has set up a web-based virtual game.

As far as travel agencies are concerned, since 2016, Cub Med has been offering the possibility of watching 360° videos of its destinations and “Prêt à Partir” is even testing virtual reality headsets at the moment.

The e-commerce giant Expedia, meanwhile, has launched many initiatives, by partnering with various companies, including virtual tours of hotels via an app, a 360° video (Virtual Flam) and even a virtual visit of San Antonio via a 360° video.

Source: Mediamerse, Immersive Advertising

Virtual reality in tourism is becoming more and more common and each VR solution has a specific role based on its intended end-use. In order to allow their clients to choose a hotel based on virtual reality, Mariott is offering The Teleporter, 360° videos available on YouTube, Google Earth VR as well as Samsung Travrer, a virtual tourism platform first introduced at MWC (Mobile World Congress) 2017.

Amadeus has developed a futuristic search and reservations system based on VR via its Navitaire subsidiary. Austrian Airlines allows clients to get a 360° glimpse of the interior of its aircraft thanks to myPanorama and the SNCF is currently developing a Proof of Concept VR application to help travelers prepare their journeys.

The virtual reality and 360° videos are being used in the tourism industry at every stage – from inspiration to final purchase. At the same time, VR is becoming an increasingly prevalent part of actual travel – as entertainment (example: SkyLights).

While virtual reality in tourism has become an important part of the marketing strategy of many brands, some companies are still investing in the “real” by mixing it with virtual reality (example: King of Vikings). VR still has a lot of untapped potential for promoting and enriching the customer experience.

10 Great Gay Hotspots Around the World

10 Great Gay Hotspots Around the World

rainbow flags waving at LGBT festival
I’ve added an LGBT column for the website to make the site more inclusive and talk about issues that affect some members of our community. In this column, we hear from voices in the LGBT community about their experiences on the road, safety tips, events, and overall advice for other LGBT travelers! Returning this month is our column leader, Adam from travelsofadam.com

The great thing about travel today is that more of the world is accessible and open — no matter your sexuality or gender identity. While there have been ups and downs in the political movement for LGBT equality, major cities still provide the safest and friendliest spots for LGBT individuals.

I’ve been traveling around the world since 2009 and have visited some of the world’s most popular LGBT-friendly destinations along the way. I’ve marched and danced in Gay Pride parades from Sydney to Stockholm and been to more queer music festivals than I ever even imagined existed.

As the Orlando Pulse shooting reminded us, the gay club is still an important place to find culture and community. And there are still cities that really strut their LGBT history and queer identity, so we need to hang on to them.

There are many more gay-friendly hotspots around the world, but these are 10 of my favorites because of their history of activism, the number of diverse LGBT events they host, and the fact that they’re just really cool cities. If you are a gay traveler looking for a city that has it all, check out one of these:

Berlin

a man painted in silver at a LGBT pride event in Berlin
Germany’s capital has a unique place in gay history. In the 1920s Weimar era, it was one of Europe’s most liberal cities — home to gaudy cabaret and the site of one of the first gay villages. Today, Berlin’s free-spirited attitude has propelled it to the top of many “best of” lists thanks to 24-hour nightlife, a burgeoning art and food scene, and a diverse, international population.

Historically, the gay center of Berlin was around Nollendorfplatz in Schöneberg, an area still popular for its fetish clubs and leather bars, not to mention the legendary Folsom Europe street party each September (and where you’ll also find a gay history museum). But in today’s Berlin, the new gay hotspots are found throughout the Kreuzberg and Neukölln neighborhoods in indie bars and clubs such as SchwuZ, SilverFuture, or The Club. Berlin’s legendary nightlife shines through queer parties that are increasingly not just for LGBT people — everything from the techno-fueled weekends at Berghain to KitKat Club’s bi-monthly Gegen party.

When to visit: Visit Berlin during the summer, when the city comes alive with countless festivals, open-air parties, and queer events. The annual Christopher Street Day parade (Gay Pride) is celebrated by hundreds of thousands of locals and tourists each June.

Manchester

a plaque dedicated to alan turing in manchester england
While London still holds an important place in the UK’s LGBT scene, Manchester plays host to a number of the biggest and best LGBT events in the country. Once the home to iconic gay hero Alan Turing, Manchester became internationally famous from the 1990s Queer as Folk TV series set in and around the city’s gay neighborhood, Canal Street.

Today, Canal Street is still filled with bars, clubs, and other gay-owned businesses — from the pretty and glitzy Richmond Tea Rooms to popular nightclubs like G-A-Y and Poptastic. Manchester’s Northern Quarter, with its trendy bars, underground rock clubs, and small indie art galleries, has also become a gay hotspot a little further removed from the twinky, tank top–filled Canal Street.

When to visit: Manchester Pride is the UK’s largest, taking place each September, but other queer events happen year-round, such as the trans-focused Sparkle Festival in July and the Queer Contact arts festival each winter.

Dallas

gay pride parade held in Dallas Texas
Maybe it’s not the first LGBT-friendly place you think of in the United States, but Dallas, Texas, has become a hotspot in the past decade. The Oak Lawn neighborhood is the epicenter of LGBT culture there, with many gay bars and LGBT-owned businesses on Cedar Springs Road, as well as in the nearby Bishop Arts District. Legendary nightlife venues like Station 4 and the Round-Up Saloon attract big crowds each weekend with their drag shows, square dancing, and other special events. And for those looking for slightly more offbeat travel adventures, the nearby Wildcatter Ranch is a gay-friendly cowboy resort.

When to visit: Dallas Pride takes place each September, but the Oak Lawn neighborhood also comes alive, full of color and costumes, each Halloween for the annual Oak Lawn Halloween Block Party.

Los Angeles

a plaque for Christopher Street, where the first gay pride parade in Los Angeles started
With its seemingly endless warm weather, sunshine, and meticulously manicured population, Los Angeles has been one of the United States’ most gay-friendly cities for a long time. So much so that since 1969 there’s been an LGBT center in the city that now boasts it serves more LGBT individuals than any other organization in the world. You’ll also find the ONE Archives Foundation, tasked with recording LGBT history by preserving historical artifacts, publications, and testimonies. Culturally, Los Angeles is famous for being the global cinematic capital, but it also has world-class restaurants and museums, such as LACMA and the Getty Museum.

Then there’s the nightlife, including West Hollywood’s gay clubs and bars, such as crowd favorites The Abbey and Flaming Saddles. Outside of the “gay ghetto” of WeHo, Silver Lake is a popular gay hotspot. There, you’ll find The Black Cat, site of the first documented LGBT civil rights demonstration in the US and now a popular brunch hangout. For nightlife in Silver Lake, Akbar draws the bearded hipster crowd with its small dance parties.

When to visit: The LA Pride Music Festival and Parade takes place each June in West Hollywood, with hundreds of thousands of spectators, but if summertime is too hot, the biggest gay party of the year is the free Halloween Carnival, a street party on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Buenos Aires

gay pride flag hanging from Argentinian building in Buenos Aires
Argentina was the first South American country to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption rights, putting the country at the forefront of LGBT equality since 2010. The capital Buenos Aires has benefited, with a large and vibrant LGBT culture.

The areas of Recoleta, Palermo, and San Telmo are where you’ll find the largest concentration of gay bars and nightlife. Palermo, with trendy bars, cafés, shops, and restaurants in its Soho district, offers a lot of cool things to see and do — from the Latin pop and drag at Jolie Club (Fiesta Jolie) every Wednesday to the gay-friendly underground speakeasies (such as the new Victoria Brown Bar).

The gay community in Buenos Aires is relatively out and open, but the culture is more subdued than other over-the-top gay destinations. But still, you’ll find LGBT life fairly well integrated in society, with many tango bars and clubs even offering queer tango lessons and dance nights.

When to visit: Buenos Aires Pride takes place in November, at the beginning of the southern hemisphere’s summer season.

Bangkok

men dressed in pink performing in gay pride parade in bangkok
A longtime favorite for LGBT tourists, Bangkok has a lot to offer, making it one of Asia’s most popular gay destinations. The fun and friendly gay scene is centered around the Silom neighborhood, specifically the streets known as Soi 2 and Soi 4. Bangkok’s best gay nightlife is at DJ Station every weekend, specifically the midnight drag shows each Friday. Telephone Pub on Soi 4 serves as an early evening hangout with drag shows and pub food, while G.O.D. (Guys on Display) draws the after-hour crowds when all the other gay bars close down for the night.

While Thailand hasn’t recognized many LGBT rights, many tourists will find the city surprisingly open-minded. And while you’ll find some seedy sex clubs throughout the city, Bangkok’s legendary shopping and culinary scenes make it equally interesting for travelers with more discerning tastes. Also: look out for gay events at Bangkok’s luxury hotels such as the Sofitel So, which runs regular gay parties on its rooftop bar and pool lounge.

When to visit: One of the biggest and best events in Bangkok is the annual Songkran water festival in April, with the largest circuit party, called gCircuit, takes place in Silom — with all the trappings of every other international circuit party (think: hunky shirtless guys and lots of electronic music raging day and night).

Dublin

global gay pride parade in Dublin Ireland
When Ireland passed same-sex marriage laws in mid-2015, the country became the first in the world to offer equal rights by popular vote. At the head of Dublin’s LGBT scene sits local icon and activist Panti Bliss, who has been at the forefront of Ireland’s LGBT movement and owns the popular club Panti Bar. Gay pub The George also plays host to Dublin’s best LGBT events, with regular drag and karaoke nights.

When to visit: Paying homage to Dublin’s important place in literary history, the city plays host to the annual International Gay Theatre Festival each May. The festival began in 2004 to mark the 150th anniversary of Oscar Wilde’s birth and has since become the world’s largest queer theatre festival. Wilde, one of Dublin’s most important literary figures, has a statue commemorating his life in Merrion Square Park (near his birthplace). The park is also where Dublin Pride takes place each June.

Stockholm

a rainbow flag at stockholm's gay pride event
Famous for cold winters, sunny summers, and trendsetting Swedes all year long, Stockholm has a strange mix of art, fashion, culture, and design — and one of Scandinavia’s best LGBT scenes. Sweden is also one of the most progressive countries in the world when it comes to LGBT and women’s rights.

The LGBT scene is spread throughout the city. From the underground indie club King Kong to the kitschy ABBA Museum, there’s something for everyone in the city. During the summer months, the Mälarpaviljongen restaurant (located on a set of floating docks) hosts a number of LGBT events, fundraisers, and parties.

When to visit: Stockholm Pride each August is the biggest gay event of the year, with big music acts, parties, and public seminars on everything from fetish training to human rights.

Toronto

lgbt people marching together in toronto canada
Home to Canada’s largest LGBT community, Toronto has a vibrant and lively gay village. The intersecting streets of Church and Wellesley feature a number of gay-owned bars and businesses. The area comes alive each night with locals and visitors, most famously at Woody’s, one of the best clubs on Church Street.

But Toronto’s gay-friendliness extends elsewhere in the city, such as the West Queen West and Trinity Bellwoods neighborhoods. Take a walk down Ossington Avenue, College Street, or Queen Street West (bordering these neighborhoods) for a number of cool, queer-friendly businesses, from Toronto’s best macaroons at Nadege Patisserie to the monthly Yes Yes Y’all queer hip-hop and dancehall party.

When to visit: Too cold in the winter, Toronto is best in the summer when it’s sunny and full of color. Pride Toronto — one of the world’s largest Pride celebrations — attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors. Other popular events include the Inside Out LGBT film festival which takes place over two weeks at the beginning of each summer, showcasing more than 200 queer-themed films alongside artist talks, premieres, and industry panels.

Sydney

sydney opera house decorated in rainbow colors to celebrate gay pride
While Australia is currently arguing over same-sex marriage equality, Sydney remains a beacon of gay-friendliness on the continent. With Sydney’s progressive attitudes, beautiful beaches, and an active arts scene, the city is as vibrant as ever.

The Darlinghurst neighborhood, just south of Hyde Park on Oxford Street, serves as the unofficial gay neighborhood. Palms on Oxford, with its pop hits, hosts some of the biggest parties each weekend and is a longtime favorite for locals and tourists. But the areas of Surrey Hills and Newtown further out from the city center, with their cool cafés, trendy bars, and small, indie basement clubs (like the Tokyo Sing-Song bar) are also accessible and mostly gay-friendly areas.

When to visit: Sydney’s annual Pride takes shape in the form of Mardi Gras (February/March). It’s one of the world’s largest Pride parades and features weeks of events and parties. It’s a colorful event, with crowds that fill the streets and parks of Sydney all day and night.

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Here’s the thing: just about any city in the world can be a “gay hotspot” — it’s always a matter of knowing where is safe and how to meet locals. Planning your visit around LGBT events — from film festivals and Pride parades to political activist seminars — is a pretty solid way to make any holiday that much more gay.

Adam Groffman is a former graphic designer living in Berlin, Germany. He’s a gay travel expert, writer, and blogger and publishes a series of LGBT-friendly Hipster City Guides from around the world on his gay travel blog, Travels of Adam. When he’s not out exploring the coolest bars and clubs, he’s usually enjoying the local arts and culture scene. Find more of his travel tips (and embarrassing stories) on Twitter @travelsofadam.

P.S. Want to meet some cool travelers? The Nomadic Matt team is hosting a bunch of meet-ups around the U.S. over the next few months! You can find out how to join one of them (they are free) by clicking here! We’re even giving away prizes to attendees!

Photo credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

El Tatio Geysers

El Tatio Geysers

El Tatio is ringed by volcanoes and fed by over 80 gurgling geysers and a hundred gassy fumaroles. Contrary to popular opinion it is not the world’s largest geyser field, but the third largest. The best time to see the geysers is 06:00, so make sure you wipe the sleep from your eyes if you want experience the awesome spectacle. Check it the most amazing Oasis in the dessert.

Watch your step – in some places, visitors have fallen through the thin crust into underlying pools of scalding water and suffered severe burns. Dress in layers: it’s toe-numbingly cold at sunbreak but you’ll bake in the van on the way back down.

 

Source: Mediamerse, Immersive Advertising

The 25 places you must visit in South America

The 25 places you must visit in South America

Source: http://www.worldofwanderlust.com/25-places-must-visit-south-america/Heading to South America for the first time? Don’t want to miss any of the places you must visit in South America? No worries! We’ve put together a list of the best places to see and visit in South America… 

1. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

uyuni

2. Santuario de las Lajas, Colombia

colombia

3. See the Milkyway over Lake Titicaca, Peru

milkyway

4. The River of Five Colours, Colombia

river five colours

5. Mount Fitzroy, Argentina

fitzroy

6. Hand of the Desert, Atacama, Chile

hand desert

7. World’s Most Dangerous Road, Bolivia

Read more: Bike riding Death Road in Bolivia

world dangerous

8. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Galapagos

9. Machu Picchu, Peru

Read more: Visiting Peru for the first time: Everything you need to know

 

 

 

 

 

10. La Paz, Bolivia

Read more: This one time I went to La Paz, Bolivia

la paz

11. Swing at the End of the World in Banos, Ecuador

ecuador

12. Torres del Paine, Chile

Patagonia Chile

13. Easter Island, Chile

Read more: Visiting Easter Island

explora rapa nui

14. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Read more: Touring a Favela in Rio de Janeiro

Read more: The top 10 cities to visit in South America

Rio de Janeiro Contiki

15. Canopy Walk, The Amazon, Peru

amazon

16. Raquira, Colombia

colombia

17. Angel Falls, Venezuala

angel falls

18. Geysers el de Tatio, Chile

Atacama desert

19. Atacama Desert, Chile

Read more: Visiting the driest place on earth, San Pedro de Atacama

Read more: Atacama Desert in Northern Chile

instagram atacama

20. Barichara, Colombia

barichara

21. Iguassu Falls, bordering Argentina and Brazil

Read more: Being refused entry into Brazil – What do you mean I need a visa!?

Iguassu Falls

22. Cusco, Peru

Read more: 3 days in Cusco

Cusco_Peru

23. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Read more: 9 things not to miss in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires Cemetery

24. Valparaiso, Chile

valparaiso

25. Sail to Antarctica

antarctica

Images 1-8; 11; 13; 16; 20; 23-25 sourced on Pinterest – Follow @worldofwlust on Pinterest for more travel inspiration!