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Producing Travel and Tourism Video, Part 1: TravelTelly

Online video a great medium for promoting tourism and travel, and streaming producers can carve out some rewarding and remunerative experiences by specializing in online tourism video or adding it to their offerings. In this two-part series we'll look at two successful companies doing travel video, beginning with Johannes Oppewal's TravelTelly.

Widescreen HD video on the web arguably the most effective medium ever invented for virtually taking people to any place in the world they want to go without requiring to move anything but a hand on a mouse. And, by extension, it's also a great medium for promoting and selling real-life travel and adventure in the right context--specifically, on sites devoted to tourism of various kinds--and capable professional online video producers with the inclination, means, or paying gigs to travel can carve out some exciting, rewarding, and remunerative experiences by pursuing online tourism video as a field or a sideline to their existing professional work.

To get some insight into this emerging field, I spoke to two successful producers/documentary filmmakers—Johannes Oppewal of the Netherlands' TravelTelly, and Abraham Joffe of Sydney, Australia-based Untitled Films—who have carved out strong niches in travel filmmaking and had some great adventures along the way.

In this first installment we'll look at TravelTelly, and explore how Oppewal and his colleagues have developed a strong international clientele in professional tourism video and built a thriving business around it.

Start-up Struggles

Johannes Oppewal started TravelTelly in 2006 with Mathijs van de Kooi with the idea of combining their shared passion for travel and filming in a business that leveraged Oppewal's media background and van de Kooi's communications background and the assistance of a talented programmer. The original concept was to seize upon the YouTube user-generated content boom and create a travel site where enthusiasts could upload their own travel video. A few false starts followed, including a near miss with some potential investors, and some shifts in the business model necessitated by a U.S.-based site succeeding first with a similar concept.

Johannes Oppewal TravelTelly TravelPoort

Meanwhile Oppenwal and van de Kooi continued to travel and shoot, and built up a healthy body of work from footage captured in Iceland, Bulgaria, Austria, and Malaysia, to the point where they realized that "TravelTelly could go online with our own videos" Oppewal traveled extensively to shoot documentary footage for his company MotionMinds, "and I often tried to combine my documentary work with some TravelTelly filming in the country that I was visiting." At that point they begain building the site, and its mission crystallized around providing professional travel footage for travel agencies and the tourism industry.

After van de Kooi left to work for another company, Oppewal began building the TravelTelly team through contacts he made during his documentary production travels: "During my (Dutch) documentary that I was making around the globe in 2010 (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Bali, Singapore, America, Hawaii, Canada), I met Frank (cameraman, who now often films with me) and Heleen (an up-and-coming journalist and production assistant): two enthusiastic people who love to capture this beautiful world. A year later I met Michael Vink from (a Dutch cameraman who also travels a lot) and we started collaborating on stock videos. Together, we are now a large player in the tourism industry when it comes to travel stock footage."

Below is a TravelTelly tourism clip shot in Bulgaria:

Bulgaria from TravelTelly on Vimeo.

According to the TravelTelly website, the company has more than 15,000 from around the world available for purchase online. Sites featuring TravelTelly footage include Pond5 and ShutterStock, and thousands of images captured by TravelTelly partner Michael Vink are also found on

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