Hotel Marketing – Creating a Story about Your Property Using Still Photography and Video
Consumers don’t just want unrelated images to scroll through or a generic video presentation of a hotel and city. If you’ve ever been forced to sit though pictures and videos of another person’s vacation, you’ll understand how true this is. If you find your friends images boring, imagine what consumers experience when viewing similar visual presentations that fail to establish any sense of connection.
In order to provide a presentation that consumers will enjoy enough to share, and entice them to return to see updated versions, you have to create a story that links the images in a meaningful way to elicit emotion. Emotion is the key element in what makes us feel a connection has been established with others, even if they are strangers over the internet.
Thus, the first step is to personalize your visual presentation. Consumers want to see the wizard behind the curtain. In other words, don’t hide your staff, management or owners. Instead, make them look like regular people to whom others can relate.
You should also show more formal visual representations of the staff, to impart the sense that these professionals are highly skilled at running a hotel and providing great service. Yet, at the same time, you want the underlying message to establish the impression that everyone from the most recently hired staff to the owner are approachable, will understand and relate to guests on a person-to person level, and know how to respond to each visitor’s specific needs.
The Importance of Empathy Over Amenities
The next part of your story involves creating the sense that you understand what consumers are going through. Why do visitors stay at your hotel? Is it for business or pleasure? Is it to escape stress or misfortune for a little while?
You need to know the most common reasons guests choose to stay at your establishment.
When deciding on images and video content, don’t just focus on images of your hotel. Focus on those aspects that create the experience the consumer is looking for. Business travels are often weary, and may miss their family if they travel often. Set up a business hospitality room where they can meet other business travelers, exchange stories and relax for a while.
Business travelers also need to know that if they’ve forgotten something or must address something brought up in a meeting there’s business services available at the hotel. Also provide a visual tour of places where they can obtain more advanced resources if needed.
Perhaps offer a service that lets business travelers engage in a video teleconference with their family for free during their stay. Providing free high speed Wi-Fi in all guest rooms and common areas is a must.
Now you have the beginning material to create a story using pictures and video to tell the story of the business traveler’s experience. Perhaps it begins with the business visitor being warmly welcomed at the check-in desk, then enjoying the company of others in the hospitality room, followed by photos or footage of them interacting with their family through teleconferencing, and finally performing work related tasks with ease in the business center.
As with any story you’ll also want to add the guest appreciating the amenities in the room and potentially enjoying a break at a nearby attraction with a few others. The theme you may choose to base this story on is the relaxed business visitor.
For those looking for pleasure and excitement during a planned vacation, focus on the pleasurable amenities in the hotel. Show people relaxing around the pool, using the exercise room , enjoying a drink with others at the bar, and special features for children such as playgrounds and kiddie pools. Also show all the fun, exhilarating attractions and features nearby, including those that are family friendly.
Again, whether you’re using still photography or video, make sure to include shots of families engaged in an activity including children who are energetic and playful. For couples who may be visiting, show the romantic side of your hotel, nearby intimate restaurants and nightlife that caters to couples.
For those escaping some type of problem or misfortune, show how they will be pampered at your hotel with resort style service and amenities. Show visitors selecting fee videos or books from your library to take their mind off their worries, meeting others in social areas such as the bar, engaging in activities provided by the hotel and nearby entertainment facilities, relaxing on their private patio/ balcony or sunning by the pool.
For each picture make sure to have a caption that communicates your facility provides whatever is necessary to meet the expectations of each visitor. Include staff in the pictures and video showing them providing service to link the staff at the hotel once more to each visitor. Make sure to tell a story that will establish an emotional connection with your guests by showing that every employee is ready and able to provide for every need.
Make sure you have fully covered in a visual manner through a mixture of formal and candid photos and video clips that you understand your clientele and can provide the solutions to address their particular reason for staying with you. Be sure though to tell each story through images of people they can relate to and staff that is skillful yet approachable.
The most important focus for a visual social media campaign is to tell a story that will engage a variety of viewers and to let real people, hotel staff and actual guests create and tell the stories. It’s important to remember you are selling an experience not just a room with certain amenities.
How to Design the Story – Talk to Your Guests
Before you and your staff sit down to design the story you want consumers to buy into, you need to understand the experience of staying at your hotel and paint a picture through an image or video that communicates the “big picture” representing the experience at your hotel in an understandable manner.
Sit down informally with your guests and ask about their experiences at your hotel. Don’t take notes, instead ask if they mind if you record it. You can make them more comfortable with this request by stating that the staff is committed to improving the experience of every guest that visits and you are interested in hearing their perceptions of their stay to gain additional insight.
Have fun with the conversation. Have stories and anecdotes you can tell if they relate to part of the conversation. You can always find a way to direct the conversation in a subtle way to deliver a great anecdote or story.
Be sure not to tell the same stories to every guest, however, since if they share it on their Facebook Page or a review site, former guests may recognize the anecdote and feel you had been disingenuous. Rotate the staff members who interview the guests. There are undoubtedly plenty of fun and humorous things that happen around a hotel. Considering the variety of hotel staff, there should be no shortage of individuals who can add something interesting and engaging when conversing with visitors.
Make sure not to put down any other hotel or business during this process. Keep in mind the two goals of the conversation. First, you want the guest to feel special by being asking for their opinions and perceptions along with establishing the sense that a personal connection to a staff member has been formed. No consumer wants to feel anonymous. You also want to collect information that will better able you to identify the message and story most likely to connect with your clientele.
In addition to the planned conversations, reinforce the importance of staff members conversing whenever possible with each guest they meet. This will create a sense of attachment to your hotel through an emotional link. Greater feelings of connectedness to the people that are part of the hotel will elicit a stronger emotional response in guests, even if it’s not conscious.
Guests may not remember the specifics of a room or the details related to the amenities, as these things don’t have a personal and emotional component. However, they will remember the experiences that involved interpersonal interactions. This is because such interactions are likely connected to an emotion associated with the sense that they mattered to those who worked there. This is one of the most basic human needs; the sense that we matter or mean something to others, even those we encounter in temporary situations.
The second goal of these recorded conversations is to gather information about the various experiences of different types of guests who stayed at your hotel for different reasons. When you listen to the recordings, you will be able to determine the most common reasons people stay at your hotel, what experience they expected and whether they felt it matched their experience during their stay.
You will also hear what common phrases are used and if they differ based on the reason for the stay. This information will provide you with the best language and images to use when creating your visual marketing component. This information is also important for the written portions of your marketing campaign. When visitors to your social media sites hear phrases and descriptions presented verbally and visually that resonate with them they are more likely to convert to booked customers.
Choosing the Pictures and Video Scenes to Enhance Your Story
While you may have breathtaking photos and brilliantly constructed video footage, it won’t mean much to the consumer if it doesn’t tell the story you want to impart. What is your primary message and what benefits will guests experience at your hotel that fulfill their reasons for staying there as opposed to choosing one of your competitors? The recordings you make will help you create the message you want to impart to consumers and the benefits their experience will include when staying at your hotel.
Once you have clarified these two factors, you will be able to select and take photos and videos that tell the story that will communicate your message such that visitors will be able to see the big picture. Every photo and video clip you use must not just be relevant to your story but must move your story forward in the direction you desire.
Your overall marketing campaign should include social media as a large component but it should not the only component. Social media avenues should be part of an overall marketing campaign, which includes a variety of strategies and techniques to get your message to your potential clientele. All of the facets of your marketing platform, however, should fit together like a puzzle with all the pieces in place.
Whether it’s advertisements, content on your website or blog, verbal or visual social media strategies or any other factors that make up your complete marketing effort, they should all communicate the same message and tell the same story albeit using different methods. While the details such as amenities and room descriptions are important they may not keep the visitor at your site.
Instead, start with the benefits and describe the experience of staying at your hotel to capitalize on the effects of visitors emotional responses. Then complete the picture with the details and lists of amenities or other facts you feel are important.
More tips on how to market your hotel or resort with success:
- Using Facebook and Tripadvisor to Increase Hotel Revenue
- Using Visual Social Media Sites to Market Your Hotel
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