Video can be an incredible tool in your marketing arsenal to attract new guests in a way that no other medium can. It can tell a story through emotion. It can evoke a sense of excitement.
It can convince someone to book your hotel because they want the experience they just witnessed in the video.
Unfortunately, many hotels aren't taking advantage of the opportunity to use video to show off the real guest experience. As more consumers turn to mobile to watch video, it's important that you take advantage of this and put some serious thought into what video can do for your hotel.
Below I've established why and how video is different to other media, and how you can use those differences to tell a story that your potential guests may right now be missing out on.
Video is quicker to consume than text
A video can be a visual and auditory orgasm for the brain. Moving images, sound, music and dialogue all come together to provide an experience extremely quickly. Video is not the only way to tell a story or to create an experience of joy or delight. But video has one thing over a 500-page novel: it’s immediate!
A viewer can quickly be pulled into the story of a video, even if it’s only a few minutes long. Short films convey an entire story-arc in a matter of minutes. Obviously, it’s not easy to put this kind of video together. It can’t be some slap-dash backyard job. But it can be done.
If you expect the viewer only has a few minutes to spare when they visit your website, would you rather present them with an enormous block of text that will take them 5 minutes to read, or show them an incredible experience in the same amount of time by using video?
Video is more visual than still photos
Still photos are essential for hotel online presence. And I’m not saying they aren’t required because great still photography has a very important role to play on your hotel’s website. But the biggest problem with a still photo is that it’s static.
It’s difficult to convey movement or action in a photo, and even when you can, your guest is missing out on the entire auditory experience.
A still photo might show a gorgeous-looking pool surrounded by radiant, relaxed guests. But we can’t hear them. We can’t appreciate the ambience. We don’t experience that pool-side location the way we would if we were there. Still photos are great, and they have their place, but video brings an experience to life.
It also cannot draw attention to specific features of a hotel room that may not be obvious or visible in a photo.
Video is more authentic than text or still photos
This may be the most important point. Video is more authentic than text or still photos. Text can say anything you want. And still photos can be photo-shopped or staged. But a video of a real guest giving a real testimony has nowhere to hide.
We are social creatures. Even when watching video, we can tell when things aren’t quite right, if only subconsciously. When something feels staged or stilted, it’s there in plain sight.
Having guests give accounts of their time at your hotel, complete with the “ums” and “ahs” and the nervous laughing conveys a sense of honesty that a text testimonial or a TripAdvisor review is incapable of getting across.
This point goes further than guest testimony. A video has the opportunity to show real staff in their real environment. It can show off the hotel restaurant, complete with the chatter of satisfied guests, the clinking of glasses, and the sounds of the kitchen.
When you consider how much your guests will miss without a video, and how much more genuine and personal a video can make your hotel seem - it’s all the more obvious why video is the right tool to attract more guests.
What video isn’t
I’ve so far talked about what video can do well. But we need to discuss what it doesn’t do well and how things can go wrong if the team putting your video together doesn’t understand what video should be used for.
Video falls apart where it tries to be a still photo or a block of text. I’ve seen this a lot lately when looking at the promotional videos of hotels. I’ve even written articles on slideshow videos and montage videos.
Video isn’t a still photo
I don’t want to insult anyone’s intelligence, but it’s necessary to really push this point. Many hotel videos just treat video like a moving slideshow of still photos. Still photos are used to convey one idea at a time. A still photo is very much one snapshot of an instant, whereas video conveys motion through time and space.
My point here is that if a video does nothing more than still photos do (and in some cases do worse), do not create the video. Even if there is is some movement on-screen, if the same impression can be made with a gallery of still photos, the video has no reason to exist.
SLIDESHOW VIDEO EXAMPLE
Have a look at this video. What does this achieve that wouldn’t be better as a gallery of still photos for a guest to swipe through at their leisure? It’s poorly shot, badly cut, has annoying stock music, and makes the hotel look cheap.
MONTAGE VIDEO EXAMPLE
The next video does something that would also be better served as a still photo gallery. It’s very slow and deliberate, but it doesn’t tell a story. Using models can sometimes work, but they need to be doing something and they need to feel genuine.
After watching this video, I feel no connection to the models, or to the hotel. It’s just too impersonal. It’s clear that this place looks great. Although I can already garner that from looking at the still photos.
When I watch a promotional video, I want to know what it’s really like to be there. What are the staff like? How do the guests feel? How many guests are around? Video allows a hotel to answer all these see for yourself questions, yet this video completely wastes that opportunity.
Video isn’t text
Text can be used to great effect to convey specific or technical information. On your website, text is used to list your amenities, to describe locations on a map and to inform your guests of why you are unique.
Do not slather your videos with chunks of text, or simply read out text that the guest could otherwise just read on your website. Obviously, on-screen text or narration can be used in a video, but if the entire thing looks like a PowerPoint slideshow, or is a completely scripted narration, there is nothing left to keep a viewer’s interest. They would prefer to simply read the text themselves.
TEXT VIDEO EXAMPLE
This video does everything I just mentioned. If the hotel is going to spend this kind of money on television advertising, they could at least get a good video to begin with. The video suggests that guests will “enjoy a completely unique hotel experience” but it fails to explain why.
The text on screen flashes “BUSINESS / PLEASURE / BRIDGE RD / CHAPEL ST / SHOPPING” which is completely redundant as the narrator reads the same thing. The hotel rooms look fairly standard, and appear to overlook a bicycle track (referred to as a “picturesque courtyard”) and the “magnificent Yarra River” (emphasised with an old boat).
The narrator reads text that people could read themselves, and the video includes snapshots that would be better served as still photographs. Ultimately, nothing in this video couldn’t be done better with another medium. Another missed opportunity.
SHOW, DON’T TELL
The point of a hotel video is to show the guest exactly what their experience of your hotel will be like. Simply telling the guest that you have incredible rooms, a great restaurant ambience and fast wi-fi is wasting an opportunity. Video lets you show them all this stuff in a way that they will believe and take on board.
Again, any production team worth their salt understands this and won’t simply use text or an impersonal video to convey your fast wi-fi. They will actually show someone connecting to it and browsing the web, and getting their reaction to it. A guest will believe this far more than if the claim was simply asserted without evidence.
When considering video for your hotel, keep in mind the guest experience. And if you decide to put together a video strategy, you’ll know the kind of video that will convey the guest experience in its best possible light.