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Monday 28 March 2011

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"Tourism bodies have no idea" says YouTube producer


If the potential of social media to promote a region was ever in question, then a short video posted on YouTube has surely dispelled any doubt.

The travel video '‪Airlie Beach, Irish Backpacker, Australia‬' has had a staggering 5.1 million views and its creator, Mark Shea of Overlander.tv, spoke to The Newsport about why the story of an Irish backpacker living in Airlie Beach has become and internet sensation, and how Australia's tourism bodies have missed the point of social media.


The Newsport: Who commissioned the Airlie Beach video?

Mark Shea: The Airlie Beach video was part of a self funded project I filmed on the East Coast called 'Meet a Local' whereby I interviewed different people at each location I visited. 

TN: How much did it cost to make?

MS: For me to film such a promo for a location, I would charge about $3000 plus any travel expenses. I also ensure videos get search engine optimised so they get found.

TN: To what do you attribute the success of the video?

(It is here where Mark tells me about his "Triple-B" theory and directs me to a short video he made to explain it. If you want to know more, click on the second video on the right.

MS: YouTube works on ranking videos according to views, comments, favourites and likes. Videos that do well in these areas get found in YouTube search, the second biggest search engine on the internet, after Google.

With YouTube you receive video insight which tells you who watches a video, statistics like age, sex, and location. A majority of the viewers for the Airlie Beach video are middle-aged men from Muslim countries, believe it or not.

TN: Are our tourism bodies reaching the right targets with their YouTube commercials and videos?

MS: I think most tourism bodies have no idea and actually spend too much for video production with fancy productions which don't garner an audience.

Videos need to provide information and be honest, viewers smell advertising a mile away and my results show that personable honest appraisals, using local personalities work.

I find the problem with tourism bodies is that there seems to be no accountability for the campaigns they run. A fine example of this is the Tourism Victoria $7.3 million Daylesford 'Lead a double life' video.

The video doesn't really tell the viewer why they should visit Daylesford. And with a current 11,903 views, thank God it was only the stupid taxpayer who had to pay for it!

This is a rolled gold failure, and a better idea would have been to divide the $7.3 million up and make a number of videos, promoting numerous Victorian tourist locations, in a format more suitable for the online arena.

The other thing with the tourism bodies is that for jobs under $150,000, they don't have to put in a tender. So video jobs are not tendered and favoured producers can 'name their price.'

Victoria Tourism recently ran the villages campaign, $6 million and hardly any views.

Every minute of every day, there is 24 hours of video uploaded to YouTube. The marketplace is getting very crowded and it is harder and harder for tourism regions and business to get found.

But there is a solution. Find a successful pre-established YouTube channel, and get them to make a video about your region. Lonely Planet recently did it with Australia's most successful YouTuber, Natalie Tran, sending her on a worldwide adventure, taking their YouTube subscriber base from 15,000 to 40,000.

TN: Have you made a Port Douglas video in the past?

MS: I have visited Port Douglas and did a video on the the Exotic Fruit Farm up the road at Cape Tribulation.

The video has done well, having enough views, comments and favourites to now be number one in YouTube search for the term Cape Tribulation.

I'd love to visit again, and my prices to produce a video are a lot more reasonable than what tourism bodies fork out (laughs).

TN: What should the Port Douglas region be doing to promote itself?

MS: Video is becoming an essential part of any online marketing campaign because it has been found to be extremely effective.

I suggest Port Douglas works out who its market is, target that market and try and differentiate itself from other locations.

A successful online tourism video campaign needs to feature a short video under three minutes that sets out to provide information about a region and differentiate that region or business.

The video also need to be search engine optimised for the key words people might use in search.

TN: Tell us a bit more about your business and the purpose of the videos you make.

MS: Overlander.tv specialises in travel documentaries and the production of online videos for business and tourism regions. The aim is to explore the online video medium as a means to travel the world and promote tourism business.

Reporter's note: It's becoming clearer that first hand accounts of travel experiences by actual visitors make or break a destination. Authenticity seems to be the key, and as Mark said, "viewers smell advertising a mile away".


Have your say!

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John White, , 31-03-11 18:52:
Good for Mark Shea, we need people like him to open eyes & be bold enough to criticise the establishment. However, Mark does not address the broader complexities of marketing. Firstly his video is aimed at only one sector of the tourism pie whereas the more sophisticated productions the whole pie! Social networking too & the use of “toys” like YouTube (which I use), as important as they’ve become, again is only one of the many paths to enticing our selected markets/market sectors to come & spend their money with us. I’ve viewed Mark’s video collection on YouTube & only a few boast grand viewing numbers of this subject matter video. Please don't take these comments as knocking Mark for he’s “on the money”, but for only one of the tools needed to market effectively.

Critiquing Mark’s Airlie Beach video I felt it missed the goal of telling the audience why they should visit Airlie Beach; I also felt there was too much “footage” of pub scenes & not enough of the destination itself, again it only showed one age group & one style of traveller to Oz. The video also lasted more than 3 minutes. Nonetheless a great video & a great viewing audience even if “half” of the viewers were, as Mark suggests, Middle Eastern middle aged men.

My wife Karen & I were particularly drawn to this The Newsport article given that we’re a few week off launching our new business which is aimed specifically at producing “low cost 3 minute” videos for websites & the social media. We hope soon to be making self funded destination videos, client product videos & client training videos. We’re currently just finalising our own port folio & fine tuning our production software.

In my view our tourism bodies do sometimes sway away from what we see as the best path to market but in the same breath I do say how many products both contribute actively & financially with these bodies?!

Well done Mark & others like him for poking sticks at wasp nests! Back to destination marketing.

John White
Axio 1 P/L, Marketing Consultant.
Mark Shea, , 31-03-11 13:36:
Thanks for comments. I'm sure I will never work for a government tourism body again after this one! But, as a travel video producer, I'm sick of watching them miss the mark with expensive irrelevant campaigns.
Video does not have to be expensive. Results have shown it is one of the best performing formats for online marketing - http://www.overlander.tv/2009/using-online-video-to-market-your-business-or-region-in-australia/. Youtube and the advent of vloggers has changed the rules. Anyone can now make a viral video, just make it honest. Remember you are competing against every other region and town. So really narrow down what differentiates Port Douglas from the crowd. Look forward to seeing some local videos :)
Mark Shea
guy besley, , 31-03-11 11:35:
btw, did anyone else smell an add here :-)
guy besley, , 31-03-11 11:33:
About time someone is making us listen to the reality that is SM. What Mark is saying is not new, just is for us maybe. I started a daily video blog that some will see, anyway, that is now receiving 500 views a day and growing (probably more than traffic than any website in Port). Its on you tube, but I dont promote on you tube (wrong demographic, I believe) But his point is 100% right, the new age is soft sell and people smell an add and tune off. That said, the new PDTT promo is excellent and has a strong purpose (wholesale), something like what Mark is refering to would compliment not over take. In this day of DM content rules and you can have as much as you like for minimal cost, just dont make it boring.....
steve hull, , 31-03-11 11:30:
about time the question was asked re-years of wasted money by our tourism bodies on promotions that just don't work.

these people who have been steering our now rudderless ship with antiquated/out of date ideas(on all fronts)need to be held accountable.
Lawrence Mason Mason, , 31-03-11 11:03:
Cazee you have got to be kidding...the rates are already severly distressed and the region has the cheapest hotel rooms in Australia!!! Try a tent if you want cheaper....
anthony dickinson, , 31-03-11 10:03:
Talking about hitting the nail on the head. How many of these you tube videos can you get for the fraction of the price of an 'overseas promotional tour?"
One ignores social networking at one's peril
Mat Churchill, , 31-03-11 09:44:
A reader sent a link to me via email of the Port Douglas and Daintree You Tube vid that was put together by our tourism bodies.

It's a great looking video, but has a totally different look and feel to the one featured in the article on Airlie Beach.

Take a look and let us know what you'd prefer to see as a prospective traveller.

Here's the link:

Carol Fleming, , 31-03-11 09:36:
This makes perfect sense in this day & tech age. Lets move forward with this for Port Douglas (we've got the lot).
Where do we sign up!
Giddy Up
Jeff & Carol
Sean Roberts, , 31-03-11 06:20:
Well done to Mark Shea,
great video with good visuals,content & line of questioning.

I think the angle from the backpacker/tourist Jenny Higins point of view is a winner. The fact that she is a young female traveller expressing how safe she & others feel while touring this country is awesome.
For any potential visitor to foreign country, hearing positive,enthusiastic comments straight from the mouth of another traveller must be the best type of advertising you can get.

Being a local business owner in our currently quiet little town of Port Douglas, I think there are alot worse ways you could spend $3000 or so to promote the benefits of our region to a world market.

And in saying so would be happy to contribute some capital toward such a video if other business owners & interested parties wanted to chip in.
Such a video could be done as an ongoing six monthly promotion, show-casing our area & using some of our own local video/Port Shorts talent.
Inter-viewing tourists in the street,on the reef or at play all over this awesome part of North Queensland, then posted on Youtube & social media sites.

Well done Newsport for showing what major things can be achieved with small amounts of money to the benefit of all.

Sean Roberts
Chillydog Refrigeration.
Cazee , , 30-03-11 18:44:
Please make Port Douglas "family affordable".By the time you pay for your accom and a trip to the reef for a family with 3 kids. You need to survive off ration packs for the rest of the holiday. Port Douglas is no longer about getting the millionaires in,reduced your rates and get more visitors here, surely this is better than empty boats, restaurants and rooms.We have so much to offer but out of reach for the average family. Support your locals, they are the ones that are keeping you in business in this quiet season.
Embrace the social network, it has tremdous power. All these marketing bodies have had thousands of dollars to promote our area and failed.
Kerstin Boegel, , 28-03-11 11:01:
Great Video,
please make one about Port Douglas!
It has just as much to offer.
Cheers Kerstin

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