For the last five years, Miles has analyzed top performing online videos from destination marketing organizations (DMOs) around the world. The original Moving Picture Magic blog series from 2018 identified ten DMO videos that demonstrated strong storytelling, richer information and greater organic reach.
As a special edition of this series, we reviewed more than 180 YouTube accounts of DMOs and leading visitor attractions on their video response to COVID-19. This was prompted by our research with Longwoods International that identified “Short online travel videos” as the most important digital content type that U.S. travelers were engaging with during the crisis.
For this special review, we assessed and ranked the videos based on a range of factors including their audience/views, engaging visuals, evocative storytelling and originality, identifying a top ten list in addition to a wider gallery of inspirational examples.
We found COVID-19 related videos from DMOs and other tourism organizations fall into four broad categories:
1. Miss Us and Stay Safe. The largest number of COVID-19-related videos are inspirational videos showcasing a destination but reinforcing the message to stay home and stay safe. Visit Myrtle Beach (short but evocative), Visit Dubai (engaging and visually stunning), Visit Norway (simple yet hopeful) and Visit Auckland (gentle and lyrical) are four world class examples of this approach.
2. We are Getting Ready for Your Return. An extension of the “Miss Us and Stay Safe” style, these video examples from Tourism Australia and San Diego Zoo communicate that the destinations are being cared for, recovering (in Australia’s case) and/or getting ready for visitor’s return.
3. Have Fun During the Lock Down. Fun videos from Visit Las Vegas with engaging Zoom backgrounds and Disney Park’s Dapper Dans Singers are examples of destinations and tourism entities entertaining potential travelers with fun, engaging content.
4. Support Locals. Discover Ohio’s "Support Local Ohio" video is one of just a few examples of videos that send a critical message for recovery, reminding locals and visitors to support businesses and community organizations in a destination.
Here is our top ten list of COVID-19 related videos:
1. Sending Some Sunshine Your Way – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
DMO: Visit Myrtle Beach
Published March 21, 2020
Visit Myrtle Beach proves a picture is worth 1,000 words. No narration or subtitles are needed to convey the peaceful tranquility that is awaiting visitors at Myrtle Beach when the time is right. Soft, string guitar music and the use of natural sounds make this, and other videos in the series, come alive.
Tied in with the messaging is a contest hosted by Visit Myrtle Beach, inviting viewers to “share some sunshine” by sharing their favorite Myrtle Beach memory for a chance to win a getaway.
2. Till We Meet Again
DMO: Visit Dubai
Published April 1, 2020
Visit Dubai’s “Till We Meet Again” video depicts a moment in time when a country commonly brimming with activity, has taken a break. The use of aerial shots throughout the video offer a unique perspective of Dubai on pause. The slow-paced narration and abundant natural sounds along with soft music support the message of the need to take a moment to reflect, breathe and dream.
3. We’ll Meet Again
DMO: Visit Norway
Published March 31, 2020
From empty ski lifts to vacant theaters and barren streets, Visit Norway graphically depicts the somber feeling humanity is experiencing during this tumultuous time. For a nation that is usually so vibrant and colorful, this footage has an overall gray tone. A child singing to a simple piano tune underscores this time of solitude but gives way to hope of when families and friends can gather once again.
4. Papatūānuku (our earth mother) is Breathing
DMO: Visit Auckland
Published April 9, 2020
Visit Auckland’s portrayal of Mother Earth’s positive response to the world’s slowdown is brilliant. Lush landscape and nature shots are used throughout, and authentic sounds transport viewers right in the midst. The use of a child narrator and an interspersing of native words and phrases makes this video truly one-of-a-kind.
5. Stay calm. Stay inspired. That’s WY. #WYresponsibly
DMO: Travel Wyoming
Published March 27, 2020
Travel Wyoming transports viewers to its breathtaking, rugged landscape, which looks to be the perfect solitary oasis during this time of necessary isolation. From the natural sounds of a fishing reel cast to the flapping wings of a flock of birds, this video brings viewers right into nature. The soft, supporting music and slow motion video work together with a few, poignant subtitles to convey the message that a little more emptiness may just serve us well. To explore more of Wyoming’s beauty, visitors can view their Interactive Inspiration Video Library to start planning their escape.
6. With love from Aus
DMO: Tourism Australia
Published April 6, 2020
Tourism Australia‘s video beautifully illustrates today’s world by opening with an iconic landscape shot that quickly becomes peppered with Zoom images of people working from home. Vivid imagery depicts a message of how well earth is thriving while we are paused, and a view of new growth on trees that were burned in recent fires is relevant and timely. The narrator’s voice is soft, yet enthusiastic, leaving one to feel hopeful and in anticipation of brighter days.
7. We’re Here – San Diego Zoo & Safari Park
Organization: San Diego Zoo & Safari Park
Published March 25, 2020
Even though the world as we know it has come to a halt, San Diego Zoo gives viewers a glimpse of the action still happening at the park. Starring close-up moments of animal mamas with their babies, the narrator drives home the message of the park’s important mission of saving the world’s precious species. Watching a playful baby rhinoceros and learning that his name is Edward, further hooks viewers.
8. #VoicesFromHome: Dapper Dans Share Disney Magic
Organization: Disney Parks
Published March 25, 2020
In this feel-good series of videos, Disney Parks uses their beloved Dapper Dans to bring Main Street, U.S.A. into viewers’ homes. Performing via zoom, and starting with just four “Dans,” the excitement builds as more dazzling Dans appear throughout the video. The Dans are perfectly spaced in zoom quadrants…from four at the beginning, to eight in the middle, to ending with sixteen. The use of acapella and perfect harmony bring a hint of nostalgia and warmth to this series.
Disney Parks’ YouTube channel also features a plethora of virtual tours and parades to keep the magic alive, and the Disney Parks Blog spreads a daily dose of virtual pixie dust deemed #DisneyMagicMoments, designed to let fans see, hear and feel the magic of Disney from their homes.
9. Hang Like You’re in Vegas
DMO: Visit Las Vegas
Published March 27, 2020
Hip, techno beats are all that is needed to introduce Visit Las Vegas’ “virtual Vegas” message. This lighthearted video packs a punch with the use of people within mundane home environments transforming their Zoom backgrounds to Vegas glam.
On a more serious note, this video showcases the infamous Vegas strip with a message that health and safety is more important than shows and neon lights.
10. Support Local Ohio
DMO: Discover Ohio
Published April 8, 2020
Discover Ohio features a strong sense of community across the state in this series of five videos urging viewers to help Ohio stay open for business by staying home, ordering in and supporting local. The clever use of seemingly random shots of store and restaurant owners holding homemade signs support the narrator’s message. The music selection features a violin which gives a sort of downhome feel. Another video in the series tugs on heartstrings as it shows solidarity among medical personnel, first responders and families at home working together to stay positive and stay healthy, together.