Video can be an undeniably powerful marketing tool, especially for the travel industry. According to Google’s Traveler’s Road to Decision report, 66% of people watch travel-related content while thinking about taking a trip.
But for the most part, the hotel industry is yet to fully exploit the medium to its advantage, missing a golden opportunity to influence a huge audience at a crucial part in the travel journey.
It’s not just the fact that so many people watch video in the first place. It’s also a medium that can capture attention and evoke a strong emotional response. If your hotel hasn’t considered its potential yet, maybe now’s the time.
Before heading off to hit the record button, however, it’s important to first understand how video formats have rapidly changed in the digital age.
The evolution of travel video content
It’s fair to say the traditional travel video has largely had its day.
According to Skift’s 2016 megatrends report, the showy corporate productions of the past are have since been replaced by a form of immersive storytelling—something highlighted by the success of Marriott Hotel’s “French Kiss” film (6 million YouTube hits and counting).
Essentially, the grandstanding brand video won’t cut it anymore. People don’t want to watch close ups of hotel rooms and sweeping panoramas of a property’s best amenities.
They want to be entertained, surprised, and taken on a journey that taps into the emotions and feelings that travel evokes. They care about the kind of experiences they can gain and the memories they’ll be able to create and share.
Skift puts this shifting trend of consumer expectations down to the growing intimacy we all have with mobile devices, which is where the majority of video content is consumed.
As Marriott Hotel proved with the success of their “French Kiss” campaign, social media brings an unparalleled opportunity to reach huge audiences. But that doesn’t mean there’s now a new one-size-fits-all style of hotel video for the digital age. To be truly effective and highly shareable, content needs to be optimized for the specific platform it’s being hosted on.
Tailoring video content to social media
For hotels to create effective video marketing, the content and structure of the video must be adapted specifically to the social media platform that it will be shared on.
Gone are the days where you can upload a video clip to YouTube and share the link on other social platforms. Sure, it still works to an extent—but it severely limits a video’s potential. Here are five popular platforms to consider for video content:
Last year, the number of videos people posted to Facebook went up 75%, while recent figures reveal that 100 million hours of video are watched on Facebook every single day. Clearly it’s a platform that offers huge exposure, but what kind of content actually gains traction?
As users often access videos while scrolling through their newsfeeds, Facebook stresses the importance of showing brand or product imagery in the first few seconds to capture their attention. So even if your audience doesn’t watch the full video, they’ll still be exposed to your name and logo.
Storytelling also works well on Facebook, so try to take an audience on an engaging journey rather than simply “selling” them your hotel’s best features. And just as strong headlines are key to attracting readers to articles, the first several seconds of the video are key to capture viewers. Facebook reports that 65% of people who watch the first three seconds of a video will watch for at least 10 seconds and 45% will watch for 30 seconds.
Another one of the most important aspects to bear in mind is that videos on Facebook default to “mute,” so they need to make sense even if the sound remains off the whole time. Facebook has some additional tips for “sound off” video design, with the key element being to take advantage of large, readable captions.
Hotels.com cleverly got around this issue with a quirky video campaign that featured subtitles and American Sign Language to get their message across, gaining them added kudos and media exposure for their creative approach.
Periscope is an app that lets people share live video from their phone. So by its very nature, content feels authentic and natural. Users can leave comments in real-time, and if they like what they see they can send the broadcaster a heart.
This all means Periscope is great for getting instant feedback. And because broadcasts are saved for 24-hours, users can share content around.
Royal Caribbean used Periscope as part of their “Come Seek” campaign, which involved broadcasting live interactions with passengers aboard Anthem of the Seas as they sailed around the Caribbean. To take advantage of the audience outside of Periscope, the broadcast was streamed to several strategically placed screens in New York City.
Hotels could easily take advantage of this platform at a relatively inexpensive cost—no fancy equipment or video editing needed—simply bring the app along on a tour, activity, or event. And because content is saved for 24 hours, it offers a unique opportunity to upsell activities to upcoming or current guests: send a pre-stay email promoting your Periscope video broadcast, or stream the broadcast live in your hotel lobby or shared space.
A close rival of Periscope, Meerkat lets users stream both live and scheduled video from their phone. An account can be connected to both Facebook and Twitter, and a live notification gets sent to Twitter followers when a broadcast begins.
Unlike Periscope, streams on Meerkat aren’t stored after viewing, which obviously restricts the opportunity for social sharing. That said, the platform still offers a huge opportunity for hoteliers to reach an audience in a more intimate way.
Similarly to Periscope, the core demographic is made up of 16-34 year olds, which marks it out as a powerful platform to reach a younger audience.
As for potential ways to get creative on Meerkat: hotels could consider broadcasting a live event, unveiling a new amenity or feature of your hotel, or even hosting your own mini show. This is exactly what juice company Bolthouse Farms did. Partnering with local L.A. bartenders and sommeliers, Bolthouse broadcasted a weekly #ThirstyThursdays cocktail show that streamed to both Meerkat and Periscope followers.
Hotels can easily follow in the same vein and create regular travel show livestreams for its fans and followers.
— Bolthouse Farms (@BolthouseFarms) June 24, 2015
It’s all about getting to the point on Vine, a video-sharing platform that features looped videos restricted to just six seconds. Content gets published on Vine’s social network and can also be shared on Facebook and Twitter.
While it might seem restrictive, the six-second time limit can be a great catalyst for creativity.
For instance, The Four Seasons Vine account includes a clever sequence featuring one of their chefs collecting eggs from the Four Season’s henhouse, frying them in the kitchen, and then serving them up at the breakfast table.
As a hotel, you could use Vine to create a montage sequence of top attractions in your local area, showcase your newly outfitted gym, or record a gourmet dish being rapidly constructed by the head chef in the heat of a hectic service. String together photos to create a funny gif or meme, or get creative with stop-motion.
Instagram, arguably one of the most popular new social platforms for hotels, also offers video in a similar format to Vine, with the main difference being that videos can be 15 seconds long and you can apply one of their many hip filters to the video. Instagram has also made it easy to create easy time-lapse videos with their tool Hyperlapse.
It’s a great way to show off stunning scenery or showcase a unique view of your destination. Here’s a great example from Visit Copenhagen showing off the city’s many bike paths:
Until 2013, all media on photo-messaging app Snapchat disappeared a few seconds after being viewed. But then along came Snapchat Stories, a feature that enabled content to remain live for 24 hours.
Last year, Marriott was the first hotel chain to take advantage of this update by co-creating a series of videos with four influential personalities within the Snapchat sphere. A series of immersive travel stories were produced in various destinations with a Marriott property, each designed to appeal to the platform’s younger demographic.
Beyond narrative-driven videos, hotels can also use the platform in a range of other ways, including the use of Snapchat’s filters. Filters allow companies to create branded frames that customers can then use to take photo and video, a feature recently utilized by W Hotels.
Creating A Video Strategy
What should drive your video content strategy?
In the end, it comes down to having a clear understanding of your audience and a deep awareness of the platform you’re posting to.
Rather than reeling off every last feature you offer, look to address the specific interests of your core customer. What features and amenities do they really care about? What can you offer them that your competitors can’t? Focus in on these elements and make them the heart and soul of your message.
It’s also essential to pick your platform carefully. It makes sense to post content where your audience is most active online. And it’s equally important to craft your production around the conventions of the platform.
One thing’s for sure: the digital age has transformed the type of travel videos people connect with.
But it’s also heightened the potential to gain mass exposure, influence decision-making and create intimate relationships with customers that resonate in the most powerful way possible.