Rich Media Exchange (RME) offers travel agents an efficient and search-engine-friendly way to use images and videos on their websites, in client proposals, marketing materials and social media.
Kulin Strimbu, president and CEO of the company, said that such content increases the amount of time visitors spend on a site, citing research showing that consumers are 60% more likely to buy when video is on a site.
In May, RME, which began aggregating media and building its technology platform in August 2013, launched its Rich Media Marketplace, which gives agents access to a continually growing media library that currently holds 1,500 videos and 160,000 images of destinations, hotels, resorts, shore excursions and tours.
Agents can build their own slideshows out of these images or pull videos from the media exchange, after which they can send them to clients, use them in electronic newsletters or embed them in their websites.
This capitalizes on search engines' appetite for rich content, particularly video, which they rank higher than all other content, according to Strimbu.
Tom Brussow, president of Sunsational Beach Vacations in Pewaukee, Wis., and an RME client, said the product was essentially one-stop shopping for images and video. He said he can pull media about his preferred resorts and tour operators from the exchange rather than searching multiple sources, a level of improved efficiency that can be crucial for time-pressed travel agents.
Brussow said he creates image slideshows to send with proposals he emails to clients, and he embeds videos on his website.
"It is very easy to pick out eight or 10 photos and say, 'I realize you are interested in El Dorado Royale, so here are some additional unique images,'" he said.
Brussow said that because he sells an aspirational product, videos and images are essential to his sales process, while also making his site more attractive to search engines.
"Anything in that area that can help me as a travel agent get eyeballs on my website is huge," he said.
Because RME has content from major suppliers, Brussow can embed videos from one of his preferred tour operators, Apple Vacations, which he said works well for agencies like his that are closely aligned with specific suppliers.
He also uses the images in social media such as Facebook and Pinterest, which links its viewers to his site.
And, he added, all of RME's content is copyrighted.
"You can't just go out there and pull images off of Google and call it safe to use," he said. "All of these images are copyrighted and licensed through Rich Media and safe to use."
RME gets its content from a wide variety of suppliers, including hotels, resorts, tour operators, destinations, restaurants and excursion companies. With a production team of about 30, it can also produce content, either shooting new video or turning to its library of B-roll, footage that was shot for other clients but not used in their final videos. In some cases, that means it can provide video without having to turn on a camera.
"I can just recut it because we own the B-roll," Strimbu said.
As both a content producer and a content distributor, RME has multiple revenue streams.
Content subscribers, whether they be travel agents, agencies, consortia, tour operators, excursion companies, attractions, bloggers, news publications or others, pay $69 per month. RME has a preferred agreement with the Outside Sales Support Network, whose members can subscribe for $50 per month, and it is in discussions with other groups.
At the same time, it is a content distributor. Distribution clients can turn to RME to have it push their content to subscribers and to Rich Media partners. These media partners include AOL/Huffington Post, along with their 56 subsidiaries, and the News Distribution Network, with 1,800 channels, including the Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times.
RME charges $49 per month for the basic distribution partner plan or $69 per month for the professional distribution partner plan.