Roll Camera... and... Action! Best Practices for Online Hotel Videos

February 23, 2015

Last month we blogged about 2015 hotel Web design trends, in which storytelling and bountiful imagery feature prominently. It's all about conveying the experience of staying at your property, and the best way to do that is through a range of media - including video. Video and storytelling go hand in hand; a picture speaks a thousand words, but one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words (according to Forrester Research).

Online promotional videos for travel are rapidly gaining popularity. Recent research by Software Advice, a reviews and research company for hotel management software, revealed that 51 percent of leisure travelers, 69 percent of business travelers and 55 percent of affluent travelers watch online travel videos. And Google's latest travel study, The 2014 Traveler's Road to Decision, shows that search engines and YouTube are the top online sources of travel inspiration.

While the case for online hotel videos is so strong, many properties are still without them. Limited budget and not knowing where to start are the top two excuses. That's why we've put together these best practices for creating great hotel videos.

Best Length

According to Visible Measures, a leading content advertising company, 60 percent of viewers drop off within two minutes of a promotional video, so short and sweet is key. To keep it brief, don't try to cram too much content into one video. If you have a lot to show, consider creating a series of snack-sized videos, each focused on a different aspect of your property, for example a property tour, location and activities, and special event facilities. An effectively simple video by Rowena's Inn on the River achieves a complete overview of their property in just 30 seconds.

Best Content

By the time a prospective guest has arrived at your website, they have typically decided on the area they want to visit and the purpose of their trip; at this point, they want detailed information about a property that will help them make the decision to book. According to the Software Advice research, 68 percent of travelers are persuaded to book by viewing hotel features and amenities, while 32 percent are convinced by viewing information about nearby activities. Breaking it down further, the majority of travelers (57 percent) are most interested in seeing a property's rooms and common areas, whereas 20 percent are most eager to view the spa, pool or gym. A property's natural scenery, on-site dining options, and staff and management come in at 9 percent, 8 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

The above numbers serve as a good guideline (but not a rule) of what and how much of each facet of your property you could include in a video that's designed as an overview; focusing on the rooms and common areas of your property, with a brief look at other amenities like the pool and restaurant, as well as the location, should give all prospective guests at least a taste of the content they most value. And, as mentioned above, consider creating additional videos focused on particular features of your property - for example, the spa experience, event facilities, or activities - for those consumers seeking specific information.

Highlighting what sets your property apart from your competition will provide a great angle, and featuring scenes with smiling guests and staff helps to convey the genuine experience of your property. Kimber Modern's video provides prospective guests with a good look at their suites and common areas while effectively portraying what sets the property apart - its distinctive architecture and design and sophisticatedly hip vibe. One of our favourite "hotel" videos of all time is Dunton Hot Springs' masterpiece. This luxury, experiential resort focuses on its stunning natural setting and activities, starring happy, relaxed guests enjoying the unique experience the property is renowned for.

Best Quality

While high-quality video is ideal, don't abandon your video-making endeavour because of a limited budget. Only 13 percent of consumers really care about production quality, according to the Software Advice survey. Taylor Short from Software Advice recommends determining production quality by available funds and by how you want your property to be perceived by prospective guests. For example, luxury hotels would appeal to their target audience by hiring a professional production crew to create polished videos that convey quality, while a hostel could shoot its own footage of guests enjoying the common areas to portray a fun, laid-back vibe. Short testimonial videos shot by real guests are also especially effective at converting lookers into bookers.

Quality sound is important, so if you're shooting footage yourself, use an external microphone to record speech if your camera's built-in mic is not producing good results. Speaking of soundtrack, the Software Advice research revealed that most travelers prefer hotel guests as narrators or no narrator at all - just music. There are some great free video editing programs out there for do-it-yourself projects, such as Windows Movie Maker, Apple's iMovie, and Lightworks (free version).

If your completed video is slow to load, you'll want to compress the file for optimal online viewing - this can be done within your video editing software or your Web designer can help with that.

Best Place

Of course you'll want to display your awesome video proudly on your website, and that's where a whopping half of travelers surveyed by Software Advice want to see it too. It's a great way to keep prospective customers on your site, and those customers know they are watching reputable content. YouTube comes in second with 34 percent of travelers preferring to watch videos there. So the best strategy is to publish videos to both the property's website and YouTube channel for maximum reach and optimal SEO. Publishing videos on YouTube also makes it easy to then embed them on your website and on social media, which is also important. In the video description on YouTube, make sure to link back to your property's website.

Videos are an increasingly effective way to grab attention and boost conversion. Take a look at what your competition is doing - if they have videos and you don't, you're at a disadvantage... and if they don't, then video will give you the competitive edge. Either way, roll camera!

For more stats and further insight, read the complete Software Advice report.


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