Podcast: River & Trail Outfitters “reel in” guests with video.

How an outdoor adventure company makes a splash with visual marketing.

With a new website launch this summer, Natasha Baihly of River & Trail Outfitters has her hands full. In this podcast episode, Natasha shares how she is using videos and photos on their website to show off the thrilling, visual experiences like whitewater rafting and tubing that River & Trail offers. We talk about why visual elements are so important in marketing attractions these days, and how to use videos across a variety of digital marketing platforms, including programmatic ad buys.

Natasha is the President of River & Trail Outfitters, an outdoor adventure sports company in Knoxville, Maryland. Located right near the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers, River & Trail has been offering whitewater action and mellow paddling for 46 years!. They also have a campground and run brewery, winery, and distillery kayaking tours. As well as hiking tours on part of the Appalachian Trail.

Less words, more images

As River & Trail started buffing out their website, Natasha got to work finding phenomenal photos and videos that are instrumental in attracting visitors and turning them into customers.

The homepage is where a lot of the construction took place. It now features a looping video reel of all the different adventures offered by River & Trail, which greets website visitors right away with incredible visuals. Natasha notes that people are “reading less, not more, these days,”. So photos and videos are the key to success on a website homepage.

“We’re such a visual business and we’re all about experiences that people can have — that’s what really sells our trips.”

Natasha has found that these visual experiences translate outstandingly to short teaser videos for programmatic ads and boosted ads on Facebook, as well as unpaid social media promotion. Seeing the rapids in epic slow motion 4K and the splashing. Laughing rafters is the best way to attract adventure-hungry guests to the website!

Videos create guest understanding and “soul connections”

In the action-packed attraction and recreation industry, your most powerful marketing tool is often video. Natasha is capitalizing on that to make connections with her potential customers.

As Natasha says, the videos are all about showing prospective customers what an experience with River & Trail really looks like. The videos they create put viewers right in the action. In the point of view of someone enjoying themselves on a trip down the river. These videos are a fun, informative resource for people who are on the fence about buying. Natasha’s goal is to get a video on every trip page on their website to help guests understand each trip.

“On a more practical level, the images and video can either amp [guests] up for the experience or put them at ease that they are not getting in over their head.”

Accessibility is a big selling point for River & Trail. They want to make it clear that anyone can come. enjoy the scenery and participate in the services they offer. They use videos to establish their credibility by showing guests they will be “in the hands of capable guides”. If they’re not expert rafters or kayakers, or if they want to learn a bit about the history of the area.

The biggest selling point for River & Trail, though, is the connections guests can make with each other while having this incredible experience together — Natasha calls these “soul connections.” Videos and photos of people making memories and sharing outdoor adventures with family and friends really are the ticket to engage with a potential guest’s emotions and show them the kind of soul connection they could make with their loved ones on one of River & Trail’s trips. Appeals to emotion are always powerful!

Video marketing advice

  1. Understand the purpose and goal of every video you create. Your video production company should help you with this and help you make video decisions both big and small. If they don’t at least meet you halfway, you should probably keep looking for another video marketing partner!
  2. Captions! Most people scrolling through social media feeds do not engage with sound on videos. So you always want to caption videos made for social to ensure the video’s message is still clear without the audio.
  3. Consider bringing in professional talent to appear on-screen. They can be asked to (repeatedly) make certain expressions. Do things an average customer might not be comfortable doing for the camera. Plus you have the freedom to choose the demographics to appeal to diverse or specific audiences!
  4. Make a short version and a long version of a video. The short “teaser” video can be shared on social media or used in website ads to attract guests. The longer video can be on your website to explain your services and convert visitors into customers.
About the guest: Natasha Baihly is the President of River & Trail Outfitters, a family-run outdoor adventure sports company in Knoxville, Maryland, which has been in business since 1972. Natasha has worked in all areas of the business: raft guiding, operations, customer service, and most recently, marketing. River & Trail recently became eligible for receiving a Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame for 5 years of excellent service.

Want more destination and attraction marketing insights? Find our most recent chats on the Zesty Marketing Podcast.

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