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Make Your Hotel a Video Star

Making Your Own Mini-Movie Can Increase Traffic to Your Rooms, and it Might Even Go ‘Viral’

Wednesday, February 05, 2014
Mr. Jim Merritt
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If you’ve got a compelling story to tell, it’s easier than ever to reach a wide audience via web video. Instead of waiting for the local news station to send out a crew to do a feature uploadable to your website’s “News” section, you can use technology as simple as a Smartphone to tell your own story with a mini-movie that could become the next Internet viral video.

Being your own video producer allows you to completely control the message as you capture the very essence of your property. You can even act as your own distributor by not only posting your DIY videos on your home page, but also taking advantage of websites that let you upload free content, such as YouTube and Facebook. That could be your key to attracting the coveted millennial travelers who spend their day online and share content they find funny or interesting.

Some believe video has really come of age as a hotel marketing tool.

“YouTube is the new place to search for a hotel,” says Rob Salvatico of Hotel Indigo East End. After his property opened in 2010, parent company InterContinental Hotels Group commissioned a new video to help promote his location on Long Island’s chic East End, a destination for many international travelers.

You wanna be a social media video producer? Here are tips for telling your story on the small – and even tiny -- screen.

You don’t have to spend a million

Sandals Resorts International recently launched its first ever campaign of “webisodes,” which are short videos that educate the public about its Caribbean resorts, including Sandals, Beaches and Grand Pineapple. Videos such as their latest, titled “Spectacular Weddings at Sandals Resorts, are unscripted affairs using the hotel's staff. (videos.sandals.com)

“I think the beauty of social media and videos is that they can be done very cheaply,” says Stephen Hector, head of global communications for Sandals Resorts International. “They can be a little rough around the edges as long as they are real and the messages you’re trying to tell people are right.” The bottom line, he says: “we’re selling dreams that can be seen on a Smartphone.”

Focus on What’s Unique

While you’re certainly proud of your lodging’s rooms, lobby and amenities, the world outside your hotel can also tell your video story.

“I tell people every day, I don’t sell a hotel, I sell a region,” says Salvatico, who is planning to create a video that will feature regional attractions such as an aquarium, a major outlet center and one of New York State’s hottest wine regions.

“Everyone has rooms and a lobby, and you might have a spa or a restaurant, but what’s important is what makes you unique,” says Nancy Melius, director of marketing for Oheka Castle Hotel & Estate in Huntington, N.Y., who created a video series presented on a special web page entitled, Oheka-on-Demand television. (Oheka.com)

In Oheka’s case, the destination is the hotel itself, a historic property where several movies have been filmed (including 2008’s “What Happens in Vegas” with Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz). Oheka’s videos focus on its history as the second largest private residence ever built in the U.S. The 127-room French-style chateau was built by Roaring Twenties financier and philanthropist Otto Hermann Kahn to impress visiting royalty, heads of state, and Hollywood stars such as Charles Chaplin.

“We have this magnificent building, but what really makes it rich is the history,” Melius says. That history is told in brief videos featuring rare newsreels and historians from as far away as London.

Keep it Short

Today’s short attention spans mean your video is always just a click away from losing its audience. So, shorter is better, these experts agree.

Hector says that two minutes seems to be the “sweet spot” for getting his message across to prospective guests. At that length, he says, “you know enough to see what happens at Sandals and Beaches and we can make it very easy to find out more.”

However, Melius opts for an even shorter format: about 30-seconds for each spot, explaining, “when there are a gazillion videos out there, 30 seconds is really the attention span.”

Humor = Going Viral?

The grail of course is the video that “goes viral” – in the parlance of the Internet generation – potentially reaching the eyes of millions of prospective guests around the world, and hopefully drawing them to your lodging.

“My view is that humor is really what you are looking for in a video,” Hector says.

“If it goes viral, hundreds of thousands can see your product, but it has to be engaging, and humor is a wonderful way of doing that,” Hector explains.
“We’ve all shared video,” he continues. “If you can capture people’s imagination, then you’re much more likely to capture additional traffic.”

Credit
Mr. Jim Merritt
Associate Editor
Hotel Interactive® Editorial Division
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