Africa Travel Week

Embracing video in the COVID era

Will video be vital in getting people to trust in the cleanliness and hygiene provisions for booking a holiday asks Mark Frary.

Getting people to travel again is not just about re-opening borders and hotels and allowing airlines to fly again – traveller confidence that they will not catch the virus when they go on holiday is going to be paramount.

survey of 1 000 travellers by PwC in April found that 85% said their travel decisions will hinge on communications they receive from hotels and airlines about safety and that 40% were unhappy with the communications they had received so far.


A growing number of travel and tourism companies are turning to video to get that safety message across.

Airlines, in particular, are having to work hard to convince passengers that travelling on a thin metal tube with hundreds of others is a good idea.

United Airlines has been very proactive with its CleanPlus initiative, which addresses every part of the passenger experience, from check-in to the onboard environment.

Many would-be travellers are concerned about the air on board the plane and United has addressed this with a video about the HEPA filtration system used, which replaces the entire volume of cabin air every two to three minutes.

“We know the environment on an aircraft is safe and because the air flow is designed to minimize the transmission of disease, the earlier we maximize air flow over our HEPA filtration system, the better for our crew and our customers,” said Scott Kirby, United’s chief executive officer. “The quality of the air, combined with a strict mask policy and regularly disinfected surfaces, are the building blocks towards preventing the spread of COVID-19 on an airplane.”

United Airlines’ Gudrun Gorner says, “With a number of our announcements, we look to provide a range of assets for media use i.e. still images as well as video where appropriate.”

KLM, which is always at the forefront of using digital communication to get its messages across, has also released a new video outlining procedures such as transparent screens at check-in and the use of masks onboard.

Ryanair’s Keep Europe Flying and Healthy video was published in May and has been seen by 190,000 people. Meanwhile, easyJet’s video entitled ‘Your well-being this summer’ contains all of the measures the airline has introduced to stop the spread of the virus and has been viewed more than 125,000 times.

Singapore Airlines and Etihad are among the other carriers that have turned to video to inform passengers.

The pandemic has also seen a number of travel CEOs take to video to share their messages. Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain recorded a Zoom call with Governor Michael Leavitt to explain the industry’s new Healthy Sail Panel, of which Leavitt is a member alongside experts in public health, biosecurity, epidemiology, hospitality and maritime operations,

Governor Leavitt says, “We see the panel as a public health venture. We are on a problem-solving mission to help the cruise industry figure out how to adapt to a new risk environment we have never seen before.”


Marriott’s Arne Sorensen has posted a video explaining measures at the world’s largest hotel group including asking guests to wear masks in all public spaces in the group’s hotels from 27 July.

IHG launched its Way of Clean programme in 2015 but has expanded this in light of the Covid pandemic providing guests with the IHG Clean Promise. The group has made a video about the different protocols in place to reassure guests. Many hotels in the group have repurposed it for their own properties, such as the Holiday Inn Southend and the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown.

It is not just large international travel companies using video during the pandemic.

Camping in Britain has a proven popular alternative to travelling abroad in 2020’s uncertainty.

Black Pig Retreats, a luxury camping provider in Motcombe, two miles north of Shaftesbury, is sending all its guests a video to explain self check-in. Owner Carolyn Bouchier says, “We stay in touch by phone: I will not have any direct contact. They are all asked to keep their distance from other guests and my family.”

“July and August are fully booked bar a couple of two-night stays available. We close after the October half-term. We have blocked 72 hours either side of each booking to ensure the tents can be aired thoroughly before we go in to clean and make up for the next guests.  This has reduced our capacity by a third but safety over finance. We are staying flexible, calm and positive,” she says.

Hannah Hannam, who runs Farmstead Glamping (two shepherd’s huts with hot tubs outside Sturminster Newton), says the site is fully booked until September with a waiting list for weekend dates. “We have set up a guest portal on our website which contains virtual check –in, how to videos and downloadable PDF copies of information books, tourist info and takeaway menus.”

“We have seen a lot more forward bookings compared to this time last year, so provided we are able to remain open we expect to see higher than average occupancy rates for the rest of the year,“ she says.

The reason that so many organisations in travel and tourism are using video is that it is highly effective in getting complex messages across. This is why everyone from travel giant CEOs to domestic owner-operators are embracing it.

Mark Frary

Mark Frary is co-founder of Travel Perspective, a social and digital consultancy, working with travel companies and tourism organisations to create successful marketing campaigns.