Personalizing Travel Experiences with Video

Trends / Realness
Gabrielle Pedro Fredrick
Mar 6, 2024
"TikTok made me do it": The rise of video in travel imagery

Did you know that more than half of Americans favor video over images when it comes to travel visuals? In fact, Millennials are the most likely demographic to prefer video when it comes to travel imagery. Companies are recognizing the power of video to connect with consumers—the use of video in popular travel visuals is on the rise with no signs of slowing down. Our VisualGPS research finds that in 2023, travel customers alone used +165% more video content than before the COVID‑19 pandemic.

Our own consumer survey reveals that almost half of Americans get some form of travel inspiration from social media, as seeing certain destinations or experiences on social media can influence one’s travel decisions. This is backed by external research from American Express1, which reports that 46% of Gen Z/Millennials have been inspired to travel somewhere from Instagram, while more than a quarter have been drawn to locations from TikTok. While the increased use of video in travel imagery is commendable, our VisualGPS research has identified what kinds of video better resonates with consumers.

#InstagramvsReality: Consumers prefer relatability over aspiration

When we look at the popular videos downloaded by travel customers, aerial shots have proven to be the most commonly seen technique. These shots are frequently slow pans, highlighting the picturesque, natural splendor of an often‑tropical location or ocean vista.

While these shots are successful in evoking awe and wanderlust, video that feels more authentic and representative to consumer experiences will often appeal to consumers. Despite the stylized and curated shots often found on social media, VisualGPS research uncovered that 3 out of 5 Americans prefer travel visuals that look like something they would capture themselves. In fact, they’re twice as likely to prefer that kind of authentic imagery over visuals that look aspirational or clearly captured by a professional—yet 2% of the most downloaded travel videos feature movements captured from a personal perspective or selfie‑type view.
Connect with consumers through immersive video

When making visual choices, consider the perspective of travel imagery. How is the visual being captured? Could a consumer picture themselves in a similar scenario? More immersive video techniques such as selfie perspectives or very tight shots, or even unsteady camera movements can mimic videos native to social media. Our proprietary research shows that more than half of people also respond well to travel imagery depicting activities that they are likely to do themselves when travelling, such as dining or sightseeing.

Authenticity and relatability continue to be important as well, as more than three quarters of Americans prefer travel visuals that look like themselves or people they know enjoying a travel destination. Given this, more intentional visual choices that represent consumers and their experiences can help brands better appeal to their audiences.
[1] American Express
Casual Travel