Learn The Art Of Storytelling: Use Video To Engage Guests

For travel marketers the best way to engage with new guests is to tell a story - and what better way to do this than by using music and video footage? Skift looks at how the likes of Starwood Hotels and Le Meridien have used video to promote their brands.

For Starwood, video was the tool used to promote its keyless mobile check-in via an app in early 2014. Meanwhile, Le Meridien has been working alongside the band Nouvelle Vague to produce a series of music videos which showcase its hotels.

Jeremy Hollister, founder of Plus, the New York creative agency that helped both companies produce their videos, commented: "Today it's all about telling a story, because when people travel they want to have memories, they want to do things, they want to escape, and they want to have fun. So it's about touching on those points, and how you can tell that kind of story to people through video to make them excited."

Traditional marketing methods are lacking; the key is to find the balance between editorial storytelling and commercial marketing, says Hollister. Starwood and Plus are working together to produce new in-room TV programming – and tap into a largely unused resource. Currently, most in-room content consists of a generic list of hotel amenities and sparse destination content. New styles of video content will engage clients in a more human way.

"It's been an interesting thing because it's a huge captive audience, but people don't necessarily pay a lot of attention to in-room TV programming, and it's still a big representation of the brand," Hollister explains.

Many independent hotels shy away from video production due to the expense involved in commissioning professional services as well as the need today to constantly update content marketing. But there's a work-around: individual hotels on a tight budget should avoid shooting videos that depict the actual physical property. And don't be tempted to shoot low-budget videos as they'll have the reverse affect and will only make the hotel product look less appealing.

But basic hand-held video production, done well, often seems more immediate and "authentic" to guests. Focus on the lifestyle vibe of the local destination, says Hollister; consumers are attracted to more street-style amateur video in that environment.

He adds: "Even small hotels can do interesting stuff, but deciding what type of video you want is the biggest thing. If you want to use video, the main priority is about understanding if the brand has a strong point of view. If they do, then that makes it much easier to use video to best communicate the hotel experience."