US pro rider Eric Porter travels to Morocco to shoot an inspiring video for the Scottish MTB holiday company

Brochures are still key but in the YouTube age  company selling experiences needs to show would-be customers what they'll be getting. And Inverness-based H+I Adventures devotes a great deal of time and effort to make polished videos with viral potential. BikeBiz spoke with company director Euan Wilson to find out why H+I hooked up with Utah-based pro rider Eric Porter to promote its new Morocco trip.

Why make the video?
High-quality media content has always been crucial to what we do at H+I Adventures. We employ Douglas Tucker as our in-house videographer to produce films that show we provide world-class mountain bike adventures. Until you have your wheels on the ground, actually experiencing the adventure for yourself, you only have photos and video to keep you excited and inspired to travel with your bike. It is a vital part of our business and one we invest in heavily.

We tell our story through destination and adventure videos. We have also embarked on an MTBminute project to deliver useful mountain biking tips and techniques in topics that we know our are of interest to our riders. Think Jamie Oliver 15 Minute Meals, but in 60 seconds and for mountain biking.

Gravity, Morocco-style

Gravity, Morocco-style

Who was the photographer on the Morocco trip?

We have an in-house photographer, Ross Bell, who is responsible for bringing our vision to life in still images. Alongside telling the story of each destination we travel to, we have been addressing relevant travel topics and skills blogs, again, to give our riders something to work on between booking an adventure and actually travelling with us.  

Eric Porter

Eric Porter

Why use Eric Porter?

On this adventure Eric Porter, a pro rider and adventurer from Utah, joined me in Morocco. About a year ago, Eric and I were sitting chatting over all the exciting and exotic places we had taken our bikes to which, between the two of us, was quite a lot, but Morocco came up as one neither of us had ridden, and one that was definitely on the hit list. So, we set about working through maps and I pulled a few contacts to find a support crew who could enable us to ride from Marrakech to the Sahara. Creating a new adventure wasn’t a primary objective for me, but from what I found in the two weeks we were there, we’re confident that the adventure is there. The accommodation is unique and the riding is out of this world! Mules make great trails! That’s all I have to say.

H+I's in-house photographer Ross Bell

H+I's in-house photographer Ross Bell

How many views on YouTube/wherever do you require for the video to be deemed a success?
Marketing managers put too much emphasis on numbers of views, rather than the quality of views and outlets. It is easier to count views and put a tick in the box of how successful something is, but way more difficult to assess the quality of views. 

We try to tackle the quality views metric. We have a very long buying-cycle for our tours, so we want people to return time and time again to watch a beautifully shot video and images, understand our ethos and the ethos of the particular tour, feel a connection with us, and confidence to put their trust in us, so return visits are where it’s at for us. 

There are companies in our industry that release home edited Go-Pro videos, they sell tours with iPhone images, which clearly works to an extent, and all the best to them. However, we wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if we didn’t put our all into crafting the best adventures and telling their stories to the best of our abilities. We’re obsessed by attention-to-detail and crafting every last aspect of what we do, from the website to the lunch spot you stop at in Morocco.

Where the video will be shared?
Our main outlets are the usual YouTube, Vimeo, PinkBike and a selection of other mountain bike and adventure travel websites, but we also are working hard on our H+I TV video blog series, which encapsulates the MTBminute, tour videos and one-off adventure videos. Facebook and Instagram TV are still important platforms for us, but we’re always looking for other, more creative ways to tell our story.

Can you trace sales of trips directly to videos you pump out?
Yes, we can trace sales directly from videos. We are tracking views and button clicks, and our riders also let us know where they found us in our discussions with them at and after the time of booking an adventure with us. 

It’s not an exact science, we’re all finding our way in this ever-changing digital age, where anyone can become famous or an authority on anything. We’re putting our stock in producing the highest quality content to tell our story and assert out authority in mountain bike travel, rather than any social media dark art or click bait.

Where does film-making fit in your marketing tool-kit?
It’s 100 per cent bang in the middle! It’s a key area for us, and one that we’re just getting the hang of after 11 years of trying.

What are the next plans? More videos?

Watch this space for a video on Kyrgyzstan coming soon. We're just back from the Lenin Glacier in the south of the country, where we undertook a world-first mountain bike traverse. This won’t be an H+I tour, it’s just too hard - 9 hour hike-a-bikes and five days without a proper wash – but it is an incredible country, and the video sets our stall as a true adventure compa 

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