"Video Passports" Poised to Transform Internet Travel Planning

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With the advent of Video Passports travelers are now able to engage with a web site filled with relevant, information-rich videos about the must-do, must-see activities and attractions in practically all of the world's most popular travel destinations. They can also upload videos of their own adventures and share them with friends and family during or after their trip. Video Passports has also transformed the once passive pastime of video viewing into an integral part of the travel planning process. With the introduction of its video-based "Trip Planner," travelers can now embellish and enhance traditional travel itineraries with video clips of the places they'll be visiting.

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Plenty of people are going to the Internet to plan their vacations, book travel, share experiences. But never before have they been able to do all this on a single web site and never on a site that makes video such an integral part of the travel planning experience.

The world of Internet travel planning is about to be transformed.

In the "old days" (meaning anytime before the launch of videopassports.com), travelers were accustomed to wandering the web in the often-futile search for video-based content that had something helpful to offer in the way of vacation planning. And if they found anything, it was often of poor quality and had little if anything to do with their travel plans. It was also a largely passive experience, involving little more than sitting and staring at their computer screen.

Those days are gone.

With the advent of Video Passports travelers are now able to engage with a web site filled with relevant, information-rich videos about the must-do, must-see activities and attractions in practically all of the world's most popular travel destinations. They can also upload videos of their own adventures and share them with friends and family during or after their trip.

But that's not all. Video Passports has also transformed the once passive pastime of video viewing into an integral part of the travel planning process. With the introduction of its video-based "Trip Planner," travelers can now embellish and enhance traditional travel itineraries (dates, flights, activities, hotel and car rental information) with video clips of the places they'll be visiting. They can send personalized "video postcards" to their friends and family. And there's also a very cool video player that lets them create a "wish list" of destinations, share videos with others, and even embed video play lists along with the video player itself into their personal MySpace or FaceBook web site.

Video Passports is the brainchild of co-founders Devon Ericson and Eric Nelson. Ericson is also the president and owner of SeaVid, a San Diego-based company specializing in the production of destination videos for the travel industry. Over the past 20 years SeaVid has amassed an impressive collection of original programming and stock footage of places all over the world. Given the recent surge in the availability and practicality of Internet video streaming, now seemed like a good time to leverage this valuable asset in the creation of Video Passports.

"I'm often asked why we're doing this and the best answer I can give is that it's never been done before," says Ericson. "Plenty of people are going to the Internet to plan their vacations, book travel, share experiences. But never before have they been able to do all this on a single web site and never on a site that makes video such an integral part of the travel planning experience."

It is this "one-stop-shop" approach that sets Video Passports apart from the pack. While seamless integration with a travel-booking engine remains on the "to do" list, there's still quite a bit about this site that makes it one of a kind. Unlike big-box booking engines such as Orbitz, Travelocity, and Expedia that have yet to capitalize on video as an essential element in the promotion and sale of travel, Video Passports goes right to the heart of what travelers are looking for - interesting, informative videos of the places they want to visit. And, unlike video-sharing behemoth YouTube, the content on Video Passports is travel-specific, easy to navigate, and relevant to the traveler's experience.

Video Passports is already attracting interest from other travel-related companies including Princess Cruises who has plans to integrate the Video Passports video player as well as its Alaska programming on the Princess web site beginning this spring. Future plans also include the addition of hotel and restaurant information, activity-specific "channels" where visitors can watch videos that appeal to a particular interest (kayaking, gardens, SCUBA diving, bicycling) and third-party content that will add depth to an already broad offering of programming.

With its successful launch and ambitious plans for the future, there's little doubt that Video Passports is destined to transform and redefine the Internet travel planning experience.

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