Interactive Video Marketing Inc. of Silver Spring has introduced a video laser disk system for use as a promotional tool by travel agencies.
Called VuStar, the videodisks contain about 10 minutes of "narrated video information" on a number of popular tourist spots, including Jamaica, the Bahamas, Hawaii and western U.S. ski resorts. Each disk also contains one to five minutes of advertisements by vacation-area hotels, restaurants and shops.
Videodisks store information on bands, or tracks, similar to the ones on record albums. So-called "interactive" disks, like the ones IVM markets, are played on programmable players that give viewers a menu, or list, from which to choose. IVM recommends that travel agencies use the disks in their storefront windows to attract customers and as video "brochures" through which prospective clients can "browse" once inside the store. The disks can be programmed with dual sound tracks, for customers who do not speak English.
IVM is a 2-year-old commpany that bills itself as a "consortium" of small local firms, including IVM, Yellowcat Productions of Silver Spring, and Great Vacations Inc., a travel agency in the District. Vice President Russell J. Dare Jr. said the group was formed "because we were looking, as entrepreneurs, for something that was new and not already blanketing the market."
IVM sells space on the disks to tourist boards and local advertisers. Prices vary depending upon how much time the advertiser buys, and whether IVM must film any footage. The current rate is $4,000 for one minute of ready-made film and $5,500 for one minute of film shot by IVM's film crew. The rate-per-minute falls as the length of the ad increases.
So far, Dare says, IVM has produced six disks, and it hopes eventually to offer a 30-disk library. The complete system, including a player, color television set and mounting cabinet, sells for $1,595.
Dare says that while "we have signed some" travel agencies, IVM is still a long way from attracting the 400 to 500 customers needed "for it to make sense to advertisers." He says IVM is wooing large-scale travel agencies, including American Express, and travel groups such as the American Automobile Association.