New videos let tourists-to-be see travel destinations, not ads

August 29, 1993|By Deloris Tarzan Ament | Deloris Tarzan Ament,Seattle Times

It just got easier to find travel videos. For that, and for the improved quality of many travel videos, you can credit some plain, old-fashioned griping.

Did you ever buy a travel video and feel ripped off when you got near the end to find a series of "infomercials" for hotels and tourist attractions? Well, you're not alone.

A letter from Darrell Turner, chairman and publisher of Travelview International travel videos, headquartered in Houston, Texas, says his company changed its product line when customers complained about feeling they were paying for ads.

The original Travelview tapes had two parts: a non-commercial destination feature, followed by a series of "infomercials."

Although travel agents liked the tapes for the help they gave in in trip planning, purchasers resented the commercials.

Mr. Turner bought controlling interest in the company nearly five years ago, and began to improve the product and distribution.

The company's new Travel Preview System (TPS) tapes are a series of half-hour destination videos provided free to 10,000 travel agencies around the nation for free loan to their customers.

No commercials appear on the TPS tapes, but they are sponsored by destination tourist offices and national airlines, who pay for the duplication and distribution costs to travel agents.

"We learned that consumers were looking for travel videos -- often unsuccessfully -- in video rental stores, bookstores and libraries," Mr. Turner explained.

"They need to be able to access them where they seek other travel information -- in travel agencies."

Mr. Turner said Travelview began by shipping 16 TPS titles which cover the most popular destinations. The number eventually will be expanded to 64 destinations.

Travelview's original travel videos, called "the silver series" for their silver-colored packaging, still are available.

Most titles are in Blockbuster Video Stores, or available by direct order by calling (800) 862-1305. The 40-minute tapes include travel tips by Berlitz Travel Guides, and a "reference guide to hotels and services" -- that is, ads.

Travelview issues two additional travel video lines: a "collectors series," usually with two destination features each, and a series of four regional overview tapes, which combine six-minute takes of a half-dozen destinations, for $9.95.

The changes have paid off. In the past three years, the company has won nine awards in film and video festivals. At last count, the videos covered 82 destinations on six continents.

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