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Forging new paths and audiences through travel branded entertainment

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By Jenni Baker | Senior Editor

October 12, 2023 | 8 min read

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Brands are flipping the status quo with experience-driven storytelling in Tripadvisor’s ‘The Wanderer’ series on Prime Video – is this the start of a broader trend in travel advertising?

Forging new paths and audiences through travel branded video content

Forging new paths and audiences through travel branded entertainment

Less than one year on from the launch of Tripadvisor’s global video series, The Wanderer, four worldwide tourism destinations have been making a splash with a new approach to travel advertising – through experience-driven branded content, which has already racked up three million streaming minutes, and counting, on Amazon Prime Video.

This approach to travel marketing follows a broader shift for audiences and advertisers alike towards streaming TV. ‘The Wanderer’ series alone has already been adopted by destination marketing organizations (DMOs) in Morocco, Orlando, Abu Dhabi and Turkey and marks a shift away from the glossy travel brochure footage to uncover the real, authentic experiences through the eyes of travelers as they explore, experience and challenge perceptions of different destinations. This presents an opportunity to tap into video storytelling, podcasts and audio experiences, leaning into all the different ways travelers are consuming travel content and finding inspiration.

“Travel advertising can be so much more than boxes and banners,” says Adam Ochman, global director, Wanderlab at Tripadvisor. “We know that a great story can influence action and the opportunity for brands is to join conversations that are original, personable and actionable. These stories are now being told through high-quality editorial built on personal recommendations to really capture what makes a destination unique whilst creating entertainment.”

Destination guides – with a twist

‘The Wanderer’ from Tripadvisor’s in-house content studio Wanderlab – which is the first travel branded programming to be featured on Amazon Prime Video – follows hand-picked experience seekers from around the globe, each bringing their own authentic voice to provide a unique perspective. Essentially, each episode becomes its own innovative, long-term travel destination guide – one that is inspired by real explorers and informed by Tripadvisor’s traveler intent data.

The latest episode to launch as part of the franchise, in partnership with the Moroccan National Tourist Office, follows budding explorers Danny and Taylor as they experience the bustling souks and high-speed desert excursions of Morocco, reaching 10 million users so far.

The episode prior to that for Visit Orlando followed Brooklyn-based travelers Regine and Blaise explore the vibrant spirit and hidden treasures of Orlando, beyond its renowned parks. In addition to the branded video content, the campaign extended beyond the screen into immersive voice experiences through Alexa devices and bespoke augmented and virtual reality experiences.

“Visit Orlando has had the pleasure of working with Tripadvisor on several campaigns including an award-winning and first of its kind audio travel guide,” says Casandra Matej, chief executive officer of Visit Orlando. “When Tripadvisor presented the opportunity to showcase the hidden gems of Orlando through the Wanderer show, we jumped at the chance because of the combination of quality storytelling, a global platform to reach key audiences and a trusted partner to ensure our goals were met.”

Another two-part series, filmed with the Türkiye Tourism Promotion and Development Agency, saw British travel TV presenter Alex Outhwaite explore the unique landmarks, restaurants and experiences of Turkey, taking viewers into the heart of its diverse cultural and culinary scenes, before Outhwaite rounds out the journey, relying on locals to unearth opportunities for exploration.

Setting a new benchmark in travel advertising

Pilot partner The Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism was the first to embrace this revolutionary approach, becoming the first brand to feature in what was the first ever travel branded content series on Amazon Prime Video – fronted by real life traveler Cam Mackintosh.

Beyond the video content, the campaign was promoted across a variety of innovative tactics, featuring on the Abu Dhabi feed hosted on Tripadvisor’s main site, attracting 257,200 visits. From curated itineraries to co-branded ads and a custom competition – where travelers were invited to share what their dream trip to Abu Dhabi would look like, for a chance to win it – additional amplification across Tripadvisor’s social channels on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (now X) played a part in attracting 46,000 entries.

To date, The Wanderer campaign for Abu Dhabi has reached 200,000+ viewers in 97,000 households, driving 1.1 million+ streamed minutes, 120 million impressions and 528,000 clicks. It’s also now included as part of Etihad’s in-flight entertainment, resulting in 3,000+ views in its first day.

A new era for travel branded entertainment

While the best travel marketing campaigns delight, entertain and entice consumers to step out the door and have an experience like no other, the shift away from advertising banners and 30” TV spots alone towards a more personal, user-generated experience is already proving to be a big hit with DMOs – but it’s not just travel brands that can benefit.

Tripadvisor research from earlier this year found that 63% see shopping as an important part of their travel budget, with a fifth (20%) ranking shopping as the activity they spend most on while traveling.

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Travel is more than the destination, it’s a journey that extends beyond the booking phase. The high impact awareness and branded content experiences present even more opportunities for brands across all categories – from fitness to beauty and fashion, hotels and beyond.

“Following the success of the episodes so far, it’s clear that there’s a real opportunity to expand The Wanderer branded content opportunity to other brand categories,” says Ochman. “The world is our oyster – and now all brands who want to be part of that travel experience have even more unique ways to be part of that story.”

Media Brand Strategy Creative Works

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Tripadvisor

The world's largest travel guidance platform, helping hundreds of millions of people each month become better travelers. With more than 1 billion reviews and opinions of nearly 8 million businesses, travelers can find deals on accommodation, book experiences and reserve tables at great restaurants.

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