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The Rise of Live Streaming Services in the Travel Industry

This broader variety of content would provide a new way of researching and experiencing travel from the pre-departure phase through to when travelers have returned home. With the cost of travel being a concern during an economic recession, live streaming can provide a more immersive experience of a destination without the need of physically being there. This can be accomplished by capturing high-quality video at a specific destination and simply streaming it over the internet. Viewers will have the ability to ask questions and interact with the streamer. This can be a useful way of delivering information on a specific destination or a tourist event. This method of streaming can potentially save travelers time and money on destinations they are unsure of.

Live streaming services in the travel industry are diverse, ranging from individual travelers looking to show off their experiences in real time to professional firms providing live streaming to potential tourists. People will utilize live streaming as a means of providing an immediate, more personal platform to reach family and friends. Others will seek to use streaming on travel blogs or social media as a way to create interest in destinations. Finally, there are those with the intention of showing current conditions, events, and tourist attractions to provide consumers with real-time information before they travel.

Though not entirely obvious, live streaming is beginning to have a significant impact on a variety of industries. One of the most recent and fastest growing industries to adopt live streaming as a useful distribution channel is the travel industry. Adopters of live streaming in the travel industry are finding new ways to connect with “armchair travelers” looking for new ways to explore destinations. They are finding it to be an effective way to build interest and excitement in long-haul travel with internet-savvy and experiential consumers. Live streaming has the potential to have a large impact on the travel industry. It will provide a new distribution channel for travel experiences and destination information. This study will evaluate the current rise in live streaming services and its effects on the travel industry while also considering future implications.

Benefits of Live Streaming in the Travel Industry

Another compelling point is that live streaming can save a great deal of time and money while still reaching a wide audience. For instance, a travel company holding a promotional event may face the quandary of wanting to share the event’s experience with a wider audience but lacking the resources to do so. Live streaming would allow them to do this at minimal extra cost, creating a potentially global marketing campaign without the need to physically transport anyone.

Real-time is a powerful impression-creator. So far, one of the strongest arguments in favor of the utilization of live streaming by travel companies is a fairly obvious one. This is the medium’s ability to convey the ‘real-time’ experience of an event or destination to the viewer. This is a level of immediacy that written articles, photo stills, and even pre-recorded video footage simply cannot match. Whether it be a promotional event, a traveler’s chance encounter, or even the atmosphere of a particular location, live streaming allows the viewer to experience it ‘first-hand’, thus creating a stronger impression in their mind. For travel companies, stronger mental associations with positive experiences often equate to a higher likelihood of sales conversions at a later date. It is the difference between simply knowing of a destination’s existence and truly desiring to go there.

Live streaming is a highly engaging media format that is rapidly becoming a preferred tool for digital marketers in areas as diverse as business, fashion, and entertainment. Given the impressive advantages of live streaming in terms of access and interaction, it is likely only a matter of time before the travel industry follows suit, and some travel companies are already effectively utilizing this dynamic new technology.

Real-Time Engagement with Travelers

Social media platforms have enabled real-time communication. Live streaming services build on this by providing the ability to talk and discuss with viewers. Among all the benefits of live streaming in the travel industry, this is the most important. After the sale of a holiday or flight, the most important thing for a travel company is to build brand loyalty and repeat sales. By live streaming, it’s possible to immediately interact with clients in real-time, rendering customer service and giving them a preview of what they can expect from their purchase. Real-time interaction makes the viewer feel important, that their questions and queries are being dealt with, and is an important step to turning potential sales into definite ones. An email with an inquiry about a stream or an answer to a question may take a day or two to get a reply, and people may forget in that time. Live interactions will have a much stronger impact. A user who has a good experience with real-time interaction is likely to come back to the company for another purchase and share their experiences with friends. A positive image of a brand or product is invaluable, with customers more likely to make a purchase if they are confident in the product.

Cost-Effective Marketing Tool

The ability to broadcast a product or service and place viewers in an experiential environment makes it a great tool for small and large advertisers alike. It has strong potential to persuade consumers toward a purchase. An example interviewee, Alex Herdman, who is Commodore and Director of 50 Degrees Marketing, a Superyacht Marketing Company, states that live streaming is a great way to show consumers what it’s really like, rather than just telling them. He says, “If you’re walking around a trade show, it can be easy to switch on a live video and show people what you’re doing, what the show’s like, and it gives them a far better insight than just text, pictures, and posting afterwards what’s been happening”.

For example, in his interview with Nick Hall of Digital Tourism Think Tank states that Visit California used a virtual tour to bring travelers through their destination to show them what it’s like on the ground. Using virtual reality, they were able to stream an immersive experience. It meant they were able to reach millions of consumers. At just $100,000, it was just a fraction of what it would have cost to produce a commercial of similar length.

From both research and interviews, it is becoming clear that live streaming is proving to be an effective marketing tool for travel services. It allows travel companies to share their product in real time and educate consumers. When compared to traditional marketing efforts such as print media, radio advertising, or TV promotions, live streaming does an effective job at a fraction of the cost.

Increased Exposure and Reach

Though social media has the potential to share on-demand recorded live streaming content, there is currently no feature on social media platforms. So, more live streaming viewers will lead to an increased use of social media as a broadcast platform.

Third party advertising involves placing a banner or text link advertisement on a website. Live streaming offers a new alternative when striking deals with third party companies as product placements can be negotiated on the travel destination. This method is similar to digital or social media marketing where exposure can be increased through tapping into a new content creation method. An study showed that live streaming content engaged users two to three times longer than on-demand content. Users are also more likely to share live streaming content because of the real-time interaction between author and viewer.

There are four main channels where exposure can be achieved, and they are search engine, third party, digital, and social media. Search engine is the process where people use engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing to find information. This method is usually achieved by search engine optimization or paying for clicks. Live streaming can help with this as it offers new content which can make indexation more effective, depending on how compelling it is for a user to click.

In the travel industry, businesses are always looking for new ways to reach the customer. The popularization of the internet has led to a rise in digital marketing, yet the recent era of information overload has lowered the effectiveness of traditional online advertising. This method of advertising is a thing of the past, as increased exposure can bring many benefits to a business. Exposure not only promotes brand recognition to consumers, but can also lead to an increase in sales.

Challenges and Limitations of Live Streaming in the Travel Industry

For every live webcast, there is one extra copy of the footage which can be downloaded and archived. Although it’s true that security on computers is never 100%, people are generally more concerned about the safety of a virtual broadcast. This is because an intrusion on a live webcast often means that an unknown user could take control of the stream and interrupt the broadcast with his own video, audio, or content. Viewers have known to be very intolerant of this. Live stream service providers will often offer a pay-per-view or video on demand solution. However, it is great for a business but not good for the consumer who has already paid to travel to a destination and wants to see its culture in its purest form.

Connectivity is a primary issue in more remote locations in countries worldwide. The very fact that a location is remote and disconnected is often what makes it unique and attractive as a tourist destination. However, getting a reliable internet connection, in some cases, at any price, and getting it to several stream-enabled devices at once can be close to impossible. Even in developed nations, a good signal is not always attainable. The quality of live stream webcasts can be quite high, but it is moot if there is no internet connection to support it. The travel industry has investigated various mobile solutions, satellite internet, and generally trying to lead the way in getting a good internet connection into every corner of the globe. This is an issue that must be resolved in the next few years and is likely to happen.

Connectivity and Technical Issues

Live streaming is very much dependent on the environment surrounding the host. In many places around the world, especially remote or less developed areas, the infrastructure for a stable internet connection is lacking. While this is becoming less of an issue over time as internet technology improves, it still rules out many potential streaming locations. Even in urban areas, the connection may not be sufficient, with Wi-Fi being a necessity due to the higher upload speeds it offers. As hosted events outside of a studio are often more interesting than indoor ones due to their dynamic nature, this can severely limit the opportunities available to travel casters. Another issue related to connectivity is latency, the delay between the upstream and downstream of data. While viewers of a stream will generally not notice latencies of up to 30 seconds, anything higher than this can make interaction between caster and viewers very cumbersome. Streamed video that is sent over TCP (Transmission Control Protocol), as is standard, will have a buffer of several seconds during times in which the data rate is unstable. While TCP is excellent at correcting packet loss and minimizing jitter (interference in latency), packet loss does occur and variable latency often makes it difficult to make predictions on how to counter it. High latency is often more of a problem from the viewer’s perspective, as watching a stream with a delay of over a minute in relation to the in-game events can be frustrating.

Privacy and Security Concerns

However, one issue that must be addressed regarding live streaming services lies in the area of privacy and security. Consumers are always concerned with the issue of privacy. This is further increased when it comes to dealing with personal data. One may argue that with the use of live streaming, it will be difficult to protect the privacy of consumers. An employee of a travel agency could be live streaming a tour of flight/holiday deals that will reveal personal data of consumers. Likewise, the tour guide live streaming video of a tourist destination may potentially disclose personal data of holidaymakers. This issue presents a daunting challenge that needs to be met in order to ensure live stream services are viable for the travel industry. Measures must be taken to protect the privacy of consumers while still being able to provide effective live streams that will benefit consumers and potential customers. Failure to do so may result in a backfire effect where live streaming does more harm than good in promoting tourism and travel services. This is especially true in today’s age where trust and consumer confidence are paramount to avoid backfire and backlash effects.

The exceptional growth of the internet and communication technology in the 21st century has made a significant impact on the consumer markets. MPC has discovered a growing trend in the ever-evolving field of technology known as ‘Live Streaming’. This technology opens up a wide range of opportunities for businesses across various consumer markets. As highlighted, MPC is particularly interested in the impact and potential for live streaming to have on the travel and tourism industry. Live streaming allows businesses to give a real-time experience to consumers from across the globe.

Future Trends and Opportunities in Live Streaming for the Travel Industry

Consumers are becoming more and more tech-savvy and are looking for experiences that are more immersive and personalized. Virtual reality is on an upward trend, with more and more companies jumping on the VR bandwagon. The implementation of VR technology to live streams can offer an entirely new experience for the viewer. Imagine a travel blog with a live streaming service in which the viewer can put on a VR headset and be transported to the location the blogger is visiting. This is like teleporting the viewer and would give them a taste of the destination far beyond what a simple video could produce. A study of over 9000 people in the UK, US, Germany, China, and Brazil has revealed that 360-degree video content and VR are the future, with 71% of respondents saying they are now aware of what VR is. Of those respondents, 51% claim they have an interest in VR, and 25% would like to use it as a source of news. The number of VR users is increasing fast, and if the trend continues, it will be a wise move for live streaming services to jump on the VR platform. An example is the company Samsung, which recently teamed up with travel blogger Ben Grubb to showcase Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in a 360-degree video. The video was a part of Samsung’s campaign for their new VR headset. This is a classic case of product placement and a collaboration with an influencer, but with an entirely new and immersive experience for the viewer.

Virtual Reality Integration

The ability to immerse a viewer into a VR live stream will bring about a new level of viewer engagement, as they feel as they are truly visiting the destination and can make a more informed assessment of the location. This may lead to an increase in consumers using live streaming as a viable trip planning tool. Currently, there are many video sharing platforms that support VR video upload and playback, and it is expected that these platforms will be the first to support live VR. In line with this, Starwing has announced that it plans to pioneer in live VR experience to present our own travel content in an immersive and engaging method for viewers.

The horizon of consumer-available virtual reality (VR) is becoming closer with the development of the technology, and within a short time frame, high-quality VR experiences will be affordable and easy to access. This new medium of consumer communication, interaction, and entertainment presents a valuable opportunity to the travel industry in the form of VR tourism. VR tourism can be defined as the use of virtual reality technology to allow consumers to visit and experience a location without physically being there. At first, this might sound unrelated to live streaming, but in the near future, it will be feasible for live streamers to capture their videos with VR technology. This will essentially immerse the viewer into a live stream, allowing them to control their viewing perspective and giving them a greater first-person experience of the streamer’s destination.

Personalized Live Streaming Experiences

Personalized experiences can also mean different things to different people. Some travelers may be interested in live streaming services that bring them face-to-face with local people and culture. Others may be looking to see the environment through the eyes of someone with similar travel tastes and style. This type of personalization requires live streaming services to have many different stream options, catering to the diverse preferences of global travelers.

MTai, a startup company that developed a location-based app for travelers, believes that the future of live streaming in the travel industry lies in personalized and unique experiences tailored to an individual’s preferences and interests. MTai’s new live streaming service, called Wandercast, will allow users to see live streams that are filtered by interests such as food, outdoor activities, music, and festivals. In the future, Wandercast plans to add a feature that allows users to request live streams, providing an opportunity for users to have a live streaming experience similar to a guided tour.

To date, live streaming platforms enable travelers to see and experience a destination in real time. However, live streaming services are generic, one-time viewing experiences that do not take into account an individual’s travel interests or style. For example, if an individual is interested in hiking or water sports, there is no way to filter live streams for these preferences.

Collaborations with Influencers and Travel Bloggers

Collaborations with travel bloggers allow travel firms to create a much more detailed view of a certain destination or service that isn’t quite possible with a standard advertisement. A live streaming example would be a travel blogger doing a showcase of a certain destination and showing real-time series of events such as the living accommodation, local food and drink, transportation, and local attractions, which could be done in a manner that can involve the audience in decision making on what to explore next. This deeper level of exposure provides a great selling point for the destination or service and can help incentivize the audience to look further into visiting. Endorsements from the content creator throughout the live stream can help form a long-term relationship and incentive for the content creator to return in the future.

Collaborations between travel firms and content creators have been on the rise in recent years, and live streaming presents an even better opportunity for both parties. Content creators have been looking for ways to further interact and create better content for their audience. Live streaming presents the perfect way of implementing this through means such as Q&A sessions, behind-the-scenes exploration, and real-time viewing of a travel experience. The personal aspect of live streaming allows viewers to engage with content creators more than ever, and this can lead to an increase in audience. This also gives content creators the ability to showcase a location or travel service in real time with the use of integrated CTAs and influencer overlays, allowing both parties to directly benefit from increased traffic in viewers and sales.

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