The Future is Vertical: Why Immersive Vertical Videos are Essential to Marketing Experiences in 2023

Three of the top social media influencers at Arival 360 | Las Vegas walk us through digital marketing’s newest trend and how tour, activity, attraction and experience operators can go viral with vertical video

What if 100 million people saw your tour? From Justin Buzzi of Get Up & Go Kayaking with hundreds of millions of views driving the success of his business, to influencers like Ravi Roth who use vertical video to showcase the colorful & queer-friendly side of destinations globally, people all over the world are seeing massive growth with the help of vertical video.

With TikTok growing to 689 million users worldwide, Instagram’s prioritization of reels, and Google unveiling a more visual search engine experience, it’s easy to see why vertical video (video shot while the phone is held vertically, not horizontally) was the talk of Arival 360 | Las Vegas.

Yet, in a recent Arival operator survey, only 1 in 10 tour and activity operators reported using viral vertical video app TikTok to market their experiences.

In-destination experiences are dynamic and often action-packed, providing ample opportunities for engaging video. So why isn’t our industry embracing this type of media to showcase the excitement that awaits visitors?

To help operators level up their video marketing game and attract some of those hundreds of millions of potential travelers, Ravi Roth, Justin Buzzi and myself (Samantha Hardcastle, founder of The Storied Experience) spoke to the power of vertical video and gave a tutorial on how to make one during our breakout session From Viewers to Visitors: How to Use Vertical Videos to Convert Millions of Clicks into Customers.

What follows is a step-by-step walkthrough on how to make a vertical video yourself on Instagram Reels, as well as our top five reasons to get onboard with vertical video: 

How to Make a Vertical Video “Reel” on Instagram

Here’s Ravi Roth with a walkthrough on how to make an Instagram Reel using a template:

Ravi Roth, travel influencer of Ravi Round the World, gives a step-by-step tutorial on how to create an Instagram “Reel” using a template, at Arival 360 | Las Vegas

Take a look at a vertical video created by Arival attendee @bellinkandyoullmissme using the template Ravi Roth created!

Top Five Reasons Operators Should Be Using Vertical Video

For those still on the fence and wondering “is all this video creation really worth the effort?” here are some considerations to keep in mind:

1.   Vertical Video Takes Up Space

While a picture in a social media feed might take up a fraction of your phone’s screen, vertical video is given a lot more real estate. There are many studies and reports that show vertical video gets better visibility and engagement simply because of this. For example, one study found Vertical video (compared to square) resulted in 13 percent more 3-second video views and 157 percent more 50% total watch time views. As people scroll, full-screen movement catches our attention much stronger than a small static image.

Vertical video results in more views and longer watch times than square video, according to this study from marketing company Buffer

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2.   Vertical Video is Intimately Immersive

Another idea people were buzzing about at Arival 360 | Las Vegas was the concept of immersive experiences. And what’s a great way to promote immersive experiences? Immersive content! Video in general is a powerful way to engage prospective visitors because of its sensorial storytelling and emotional qualities. Think viewing video on a smaller screen makes it less impactful? Researchers have found there is a somatic (physical) intimacy that makes viewing video on the phone even more immersive than video playing on a wall or desk!

Shoot a video like you’re seeing the world through the eyes of your guest for a more immersive effect

3.   Vertical Video Drives the Booking Journey

All the scrolling and video consuming – where does it lead? It might surprise you that 43% of TikTok users go somewhere or try something new after watching it on the platform (source). Our own research shows that one in four travelers under 35 are using this viral video app to discover things to do, and it’s expected to overtake Facebook in the next two years within this younger traveler demographic. With this in mind, it’s important to create content intentionally. A mix of short and longer videos will help you create content for different stages of the customer journey (i.e. discovery vs. booking). Consider using video to answer some of the more frequent questions/concerns about your experience with a more ‘show, don’t tell’ mentality.

“One in four travelers under 35 are using TikTok to discover things to do, and it’s expected to overtake Facebook in the next two years within this younger traveler demographic, according to the latest report from Arival.”  

4.   Vertical Video Can be Repurposed

If you think vertical video is just for TikTok, think again. Vertical video can be shared on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube Shorts, Pinterest, and even embedded in captivating ways on your website. Creating a vertical video library on your website can be a really great way to entertain and educate prospective visitors. But just because you shoot video vertically doesn’t mean you can’t potentially crop it into a square. Keep this in mind while you’re shooting to give yourself some cropping space in case you decide you want to use it in multiple ways in the future.

We love how this video from  @Cocovibestours shares more than just great views – it communicates an important message and conveys the experience host’s values/mission of sustainability.

5.   Vertical Video Can Get You Media Attention

Justin Buzzi of Get Up & Go Kayaking attributes much of his growth and success, going from 2 locations to 19 locations across Florida, to posting short videos consistently on Instagram and TikTok. When one of his videos was picked up by Insider, in three days, it had amassed over 5 million views. Other big-name outlets soon followed suit – Buzzfeed, Unilad, VisitTheUSA, Travel & Leisure, and more. Because video is such a powerful storytelling tool, it’s no wonder that editorial publications are paying close attention to this media.

@j_buzzi I don’t think I’ll ever get over how amazing bioluminescence is! 🤯🌌 #bioluminescence #getupandgokayaking ♬ Another Rain (From “Halo 3: ODST”) – DS Music

Get Up & Go Kayaking’s Justin Buzzi attracted millions of views and over one million likes with this short bioluminescence video

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More Insights on Vertical Video

If you have a story to tell (and we know you do!) then tell it with the help of captivating vertical video. You don’t have to be an expert cinematographer to capture meaningful moments and memories occurring throughout your experience. In fact, authenticity will go a long way. The videos that tend to go viral on TikTok are rarely expertly shot or done in perfect lighting. What really matters is the emotion, excitement, and passion coming through. If people viewing can feel that, then you’re on the right track!

For more insights on Vertical Video, watch the full recording of From Viewers to Visitors: How to Use Vertical Videos to Convert Millions of Clicks into Customers at Arival 360 | Las Vegas on demand with an Insider Pro Access membership.

Ravi Roth of Ravi Round The World, Justin Buzzi of Get Up & Go Kayaking, and Samantha Hardcastle of The Storied Experience lead a session on Vertical Video at Arival 360 | Las Vegas

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