Many hotel owners seem to shy away from topics about video. Either they don’t understand it, they think it’s too expensive, or they can’t figure out if it’s a good return on their investment. I’m here to try to put those fears to rest. Video isn’t as scary as you might think, especially when the basics are laid out so they’re understandable.
We can talk about statistics all day, and I’m all for a good pie chart. However, if you want to know exactly who watches video, when they watch it, and how they watch it, you’re better off going straight to the horse’s mouth. Google, the owner of YouTube, understands search and video better than any company ever will. And if you want a detailed analysis of how travelers make decisions you should check out these two white papers: The 2014 Traveler's Road to Decision and How Micro-Moments Are Reshaping the Travel Customer Journey.
Suffice to say, video is a pretty big part of a traveler’s journey from initial spark-of-an-idea to booking and turning up. Travel videos help inform decisions in a way that no other medium can. They can bring the sights and sounds of a location to life. Most importantly, good travel video helps to deliver an experience to a traveler from the comfort of their sofa, bed, or inflatable pool chair.
Think about a traveler's first experience of your hotel. In most cases, they’ll come from a Google search, a TripAdvisor page, or a listing on Booking.com. Ultimately they end up at your website, and when they do, it’s your time to show off.
Surely your website already looks great—it’s simple, functional and well-structured. It obviously has some great photography to show off your location, your rooms, your amenities and your points of difference. The text on the homepage is short and to-the-point so it’s easy to read on mobile. So what about video? How do you use the incredible opportunity you now have to really grab a traveler and show them what you’re made of?
If you’re anything like so many other hotels, you’ll have a badly shot slideshow video or an underwhelming television-style video. This is simply no longer acceptable. If your video doesn’t speak to your avatar and engage them further than the rest of your website has done, it’s not doing its job. Your hero video should live up to its name—it should save the day, distill any doubt and show off a great experience.
So many travelers are looking for new experiences. They book vacations to just get away and try something new. Indeed, Google even calls this the “I-want-to-get-away” moment. They also figured out that 85% of travelers don’t even decide what they’re going to do on a vacation before they actually arrive. However faithful that statistic is, we all know that many travelers haven’t figured out exactly what they’re going to do, or if they have, they haven’t booked it yet.
This means your hero video just doesn’t need to be too specific. It shouldn’t go into too much detail just yet. You want to sell a traveler on an experience—but if I use that word one more time someone will probably shoot me with a revolver in the conservatory.
So let’s just put it this way: your hero video needs to convince a traveler to book your hotel for reasons that don’t necessarily apply to every other hotel. In other words, your unique location, your unique property and your unique surroundings all should be explored in a hero video. And if my sentiment could fit into a nutshell it would look like this: Show a traveler why you are different. Show them why they will enjoy staying with you. Show them why no one else is like you.
How far away are the walking tracks? Are you close to the centre of town, or out in the wilderness? What are the great restaurants and tourist spots and theme parks? How crowded does the pool get? Is there easy parking? Do you cater for families with young children?
Beat out your competition by telling the story of their experience (I know, I know—shoot me now) with you and show them that you really do care that they have a great time. If the video is engaging, well-produced and, most importantly, genuine, you have the opportunity to snag, for lack of a better term, a guest who may otherwise have simply glossed over your hotel as just another bed in a sea of beds.
TOOLS FOR THE JOB
As you consider video, you’ll inevitably start to wonder if you should leave video to the professionals or if you should do it yourself. What matters here is where the video ends up. In this case, your website.
Think about the video on your website in the same terms as your professional photography. Although everyone has a camera on their cell phone, you shouldn’t automatically assume that you’ll be able to do the job as well as it should be done. Professional photography and videography is much less about the equipment, and more about the experience and the efficiency.
Just as knowing how to apply a Band-Aid to your knee doesn’t make you a surgeon, neither does having a cell phone in your pocket make you a videographer. It’s just true that certain jobs should be left to the professionals. Trust me—the photography and video on your website should be done by a professional.
The reason for this is that poor photography or poor video can often be worse than having no photography or video at all. Remember, the sole purpose of your website is to show off the best your hotel has to offer. So if your skill as a photographer or videographer is at a professional-enough level (which it may well be—I don’t know you), there’s nothing to stop you from doing it yourself. If it isn’t, however, you should always bring in the pros.
Video is not one monolithic object, floating out in space ready to teach apes how to use stone-age tools. It is simply another component of visual media. Just as photography and text are. We might take text for granted, because it’s such a default form of communication. As video becomes more prevalent on the web, and especially on mobile, it’s time to start thinking about it as just another form of communication.
Where it really matters, however, understand that you need to put your best foot forward. You should be bringing in the pros to handle your hero video, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t understand how it works. Hopefully this piece has given you some insight into what video is about and how it should be used on your hotel website to ensure your first impressions lasts long enough to get that traveler to hit the Book Now button.
Nick’s background is with visual media, most notably photography and graphic design. His experience with composition, colouring and storytelling led him to his latest role at Raving Digital. He also dabbles with recording music, so he understands how important audio is in any video.
He’s worked at everything from checkout chick to business analyst to pizza chef, but somehow his loyalty lies with telling great stories with brilliant visuals and even brilliant-er sound.
As the director of photography, he’s often behind a camera, but then he’s also back in the studio splitting hairs over the amount of green in the shadows or the stereo spread of the room tone.