Using the power of video to sell the real hotel experience

Tuesday 13th October 2015

Online branding and imagery is paramount for selling hotel rooms to potential guests. Whilst spending time and money on a well designed website is hugely important, there is one piece of content that shouldn’t be overlooked. Video says more about your brand, gains more customer trust than any other online medium, and it’s portable

 

The hotel industry may have been a little slow to catch on, but is now very much waking up to the fact that video marketing is an essential, soon to be critical, part of your online marketing.

Studies have shown that customer trust gained from video is almost as high as face to face (Eloqua) and in a totally different league to text and image based content. So video really is an incredibly powerful medium to convey information.

Why use video to sell more rooms?

One essential goal of any hotel marketing is to gain trust in your hotel from possible visitors. What we are basically trying to do is make it as easy as possible for any potential guest to choose our destination over all the rest.

Whether our guests are searching for a weekend away, a business trip, or a family holiday, in a perfect world most of them would love to click on the first result that comes up in Google, and immediately find exactly what they want. But in reality it will take many more clicks to find a hotel that fits their brief.

The point is we have an incredibly small window of opportunity to grab our web visitors when they swing by. It can literally be measured in seconds, so first impressions are massively important.

Combined with a fantastic website (still utterly essential), a 90 second video will tell your guests more about what you do than anything else they can see or read in the same timeframe. You can transport them to wherever you want to take them, be it walking them through a bedroom suite, the extensive grounds, or serving them a main course from your restaurant. You can blow them away with stunning visuals, get inside their emotions with the power of music, and educate them with voiceovers and animations.

But ultimately you can show your guests who you really are and what you’re really about. And the cool thing is they will believe it all, because it’s on video, and therefore it’s real. This video from ION luxury adventure hotel in Iceland is a good example:

 

How to plan your hotel video

As with any form of marketing, you need to have a goal in mind before creating your content. Whether it’s to increase bookings, promote your newly developed spa, or just increase traffic to the website, these goals will determine the nature of the video. Decide on a budget and start the planning process early on, so you have enough time to inject plenty of creativity into the process. Then ask yourself the following questions to form a creative brief for your hotel video:

  1. Who are your target customers? (e.g. over 40s)
  2. What do they want? (e.g. book a weekend away)
  3. What do you want them to do? (e.g. book a romantic winter getaway with full spa treatments)
  4. How will they watch your video? (e.g. on a mobile phone, tablet, laptop, at home, at work etc)
  5. What is going to be to reel them in? (e.g. striking visuals, escape, fun)
  6. What do we want them to do after immediately watching this video? (e.g. go to booking page)
  7. How can we see where they go? (e.g. video analytics etc)

Watch as many online videos as you can (and not just hotel videos) to find out which styles work for you and which ones definitely won’t. In terms of video, less is quite often more, and thirty seconds of ‘amazing’ will always trump three minutes of ‘average’. So, always give yourself more time than you think to plan. With a clearly planned shoot, the footage produced will be of far better quality than just leaving it to chance. Work out whether you will need actors or voice artists, or whether you can do this simply by capturing action from a normal day with normal guests.

Note: In most cases you will require permission and signed release forms if you want to film any guests.

Identifying your primary objective and sticking to it will help you get value out of your project. If you end up trying to do too many things at once, you’re more likely to not do any of them particularly well. So remember, one video, one goal. Using Analytics you can then measure your success, and go back and improve.

Jamie Curtis, Creative Director, Journey TV

It’s also important to remember that a hotel video is all-encompassing, and requires input and cooperation from all hotel staff and quite often some guests as well. So make everybody aware of when the shoot is, and get them excited about it. Allow them to get involved and feel part of it, they may have something terrific to offer.

For example it might be a nice idea to include an interview with a particularly charismatic member of staff, or perhaps get the chef to talk about this season’s recipes. If it you try something like this and it doesn’t work then don’t be afraid to ‘can’ it. Nothing can harm your video more than a bad voiceover or a bad interview, so if you’re trying something risky always have a plan B you can go to if needed.

Most important of all enjoy the experience and have fun, but only show your very best.

How to host your new hotel video

Once the video has been edited and produced, you will need to decide how to host the video to best achieve your promotional goals. This is not as cut and dry as just sticking it on Youtube. There are many different ways to host videos and all have their own benefits for different reasons. For most hotel brand videos, it’s best to have a multi-prong hosting plan of self-hosting (using Wistia, Vidyard, Buto etc) and social hosting (Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook etc).

The advantages of embedding the video on your own hotel website are numerous but you’ll be able to customise the video player to blend with your own website colours.

Secondly, the SEO benefits to your site will be greater than by simply the embedded video from Youtube or Vimeo. All links to the video that you share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and email will be using your own url (i.e. www.mywebsite.co.uk/myvideo), not a Youtube link (something like www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Q5q8X_yzh4). This means users are far more likely to be watching the video on your hotel website, than somewhere where they can be easily distracted by videos of other hotels.

Creating a video presence for your hotel

Youtube is the second biggest search engine after Google and cannot be ignored. So you definitely need to set up your hotel with a Youtube channel, but it’s a good idea to publish slightly altered versions of your videos from the ones on your own website.

Create ‘teaser’ versions of your videos that are a little shorter and end with straplines like: “to watch the full version please head to www.mywebsite.co.uk/myvideo” because really that’s all Video SEO means; herding more traffic over to your website using video content. And that is surely one of our main goals.

But if you are clever about it, and get Youtube working for you it can be very successful. Having your own Youtube channel is a little like trying to sell products from your own tiny shelf in a huge department store like Harrods. There is a huge amount of passing traffic who will see you, the only problem being 99.9% of them will be looking for something completely different. So, although you will have lots of hits, the data that comes from them can be highly misleading.

With self-hosted videos, users will be watching the video on your website and the data will tell us so much more, including giving us the ability to capture our viewers email addresses and add them to our email newsletter campaigns.

Promoting your hotel video

Once the videos are optimised and in place, the next step is promotion, promotion, promotion! Blog about the video, share it on Facebook, tweet about it, add it to your newsletter and post it across as many social channels as you can. Not only will this generate awareness of your hotel and website, it will also help you gather very useful data to see how the video is performing.

Using a hosting service such as Wistia, you can collate analytics and show how your guests are viewing your videos in simple engagement graphs. This information lets you measure the success of your videos, and determine whether you’ve achieved the goals you set out to achieve. This then lets you repeat and improve the process.

This article has introduced you to the idea of storytelling with video, and the ability to transport your guests to your hotel via your website. We’ve talked about preparing a creative brief for your video production agency, and discussed how you can promote and share your video content, and some insights into hosting options for your hotel videos.

Video SEO, analytics, and social sharing is such a massive subject, and one that requires a separate article… this is just a taster. But I hope this article entices you to dip your toes into the magical world of moving pictures with your hotel and reap the benefits of selling more hotel rooms.