Applying Creative Online Video for Hotel Promotion Success
Tell us about yourself, what your background in the business is, and where you are now professionally? BENJAMIN RATLIFF / INDIE ATLANTIC FILMS: First off, thank you for reaching out to us. I have been in the TV production/Film industry for about 7 years, working in multiple mediums from live TV, scripted film, commercial, etc… I have been an editor, associate producer, grunt PA, grip, camera operator and many other roles. After spending a few years in Los Angeles, I segued out of the industry for a while and went to work for Apple. I was not far from the industry because I was in charge of handling our accounts in Beverly Hills. So my dealings were with the major studios and agencies.
After working in sales for a while I was offered a position here at Indie Atlantic Films. I was very excited because I had worked with the creative director (Peter Gill) for a long time. Also, I am good friends with the owner and Director Andy McEntire. This was a dream job for me, to work with great people and have the freedom to find new creative markets for us to dive into. Now, I am a producer at Indie Atlantic, focusing on the hospitality market.
I find unique properties that would benefit from our services. I see production from beginning to end and make sure our clients get exactly what they need to improve the marketing for their respective hotel.
My passion is creative, modern filmmaking. I love the entire process from conception to delivery. I get to create engaging videos with some of the greatest people I know and in some of the most interesting places. I don’t work anymore; now I just do what I love!
How does your company offer solutions to the hospitality industry? INDIE ATLANTIC FILMS: Indie Atlantic creates engaging promotional videos that captivates potential customers and gives them a glimpse into what their experience might be like at a given Hotel/Resort. We create a visual expression of their hotel culture, which is something pictures simply can’t do.
Instead of calling them promotional videos, we refer to them as Brand Stories…because that is what we are conveying to their customer, the unique brand that is your hotel. At Indie Atlantic, we take a unique docu-cinematic approach. We know every property has an individual story to tell. We don’t just show the rooms and lobby with some cool music in the background but we include movement, guest experience, friendly service, recreation, and we put it all together in a way that stirs emotions and takes you into that unique experience.
As a full production company, we understand the logistics involved in creating an engaging film. Our collective experience allows us to adapt to each project and create something new and individual. Indie Atlantic sees each project as a new venture, and we approach it as such.
We shoot in a style that fits our clients culture. We constantly challenge ourselves to find that unique feel within each new project.
What are some other brands your company has worked with? INDIE ATLANTIC FILMS: Indie Atlantic has worked with some of the most recognized brands in the world. We have done work for Starwood Hotels, Chick-Fil-A, EA sports…. the list goes on. You can visit our website and click through our videos to see recent projects and clients.
Consumers are demanding more and expecting more from their hospitality providers. What are the top communication features that consumers expect to see from a hotel or restaurant they’re researching? INDIE ATLANTIC FILMS: Right off the bat I can tell you from my experience with Apple that the mobile platform is how people find everything. Because our phones are “so smart”, customers expect to be visually wowed or they are gone. So you have a fleeting moment to grab their attention.
Video is one of the best ways to grab that attention and keep it. People flip through pictures faster than you can blink.
An engaging 2-3 min video magically slows down today’s customer, which is not an easy task. Working at Apple, I saw thousands of people just skip over dialogue and pictures, but the minute they came to a video it was like time stopped. I can’t tell you how many of my clients would be excited about a new product and would show me a short video about it on their phone. I knew then that video marketing was the future, for the first time our handheld devices can instantly grab HD video and allows us to share it even faster.
Hospitality video marketing is steadily becoming a more important part of a solid online-marketing formula; why is video becoming more important? INDIE ATLANTIC FILMS: YouTube and Vimeo is one of the most popular websites in the world and it’s not just the viewership of YouTube that hospitality industries should look at, but the trend it’s creating. Personally, if I am looking for an exclusive luxury property I am probably not going to look on YouTube, but YouTube has created a visual demand in the customers mind. While they may not look for your property through third party websites like YouTube, they will EXPECT a visual representation of your product.
Westin Life Style Spot
They are going to expect the videp product to be better than most YouTube videos. As a hotel/restaurant marketing GM, you are going to have to cater to this new customer demand. You can’t do it with your iPhone or a cheesy videographer because that could do more damage to your brand. The truth is, if you don’t have a video you are losing customers.
What is it about quality video that gets viewers to convert into sales? INDIE ATLANTIC FILMS: There is a large gap between a homemade video and a bad professional video. Then there is a huge gap between a bad professional video and a good one. So imagine what the jump in quality is from your homemade promotional video and a well-made professional video is…. I’ll let you do the math. A quality video is engaging and entertaining while telling a story, all the while conveying a business culture. It’s all about getting customers to put themselves in the experience. We have done some wedding promotional videos for big and small Hotels; these videos were mock weddings that encapsulated the experience of having a wedding at your hotel.
When you watch someone’s real wedding video it is about the couple, no one else. When you create a mock wedding you are able to control all the elements and highlight the venue more than the bride and groom. This gives a potential Bride the ability to put herself in that video, it gives you the experience not their experience.
The same principle applies to an overall resort video. You need to give the customer the ability to plant him or herself into the experience. You need to take them there; this is a lot easier said than done.
Lighting, quality equipemt, experience etc… is the difference between a good video that just shows you a venue, and a video that lets you experience a venue. That is the difference between ROI and a waste of money.
In your eyes, what are the most important must-haves for an effective promotional video for a luxury hotel? INDIE ATLANTIC FILMS: Each venue has its own must haves, luxury resorts are so individually unique that they all have their own highlights,
Here are some suggestions.
- Details – Everything from the type of flowers in the lobby, to the way the sheets are folded on the bed. If you look at our Postcard Inn video they have chalkboards that give the days weather conditions and high/low tide times. These are the little things that really give a unique quality to a given property.
- Location – People who come to luxury hotels are basing 70 percent (or more) of their decision on location. So you better show them what is great about where your hotel is located. If it is a beach you show them great shots of the beach, and the little details that make your hotels beach different from the thousands of beaches at other hotels around the world. It doesn’t need to be a large amount of the video but it needs to be prevalent.
- Movement – I see so many hotel videos where the entire video is without anyone in the hotel! No one is experiencing anything, so what is the viewer supposed to do, just use his or her imagination? You want to control your brand? Show movement in your hotel. Show people moving through the lobby, talking with friends, reading a book on the terrace, etc… Without movement you don’t experience a venue. If you don’t experience it you’re not going to have an emotional reaction, and emotions drive decision-making. Also no movement just makes your hotel look boring. You don’t want an empty hotel.
- Style – This is something that only practiced professionals are going to be able to bring to a promotional video. Style is brought to a video through different camera angles, lighting techniques, music choice and editing. All of these are not thought of individually, but as one. When we get a project we will walk through and look at all of the little details about a property. Then we watch the guests and how they move through the hotel. We always keep in mind the Brand requirements of a given company and how all of these different elements work toward presenting an overall representation of a venue.
Everything else just builds on these four topics.
On a side note, use Actors if it is within your budget to do so. This is not a requirement for a good video but it does make a noticeable difference in the emotion of a video. With actors you have so much more latitude when creating a story for your hotel. It really does magnify the overall feeling of the project.
Why do video productions cost a lot of money despite being just an HD web video in the end? INDIE ATLANTIC FILMS: If you’re reading this interview and you have gotten this far then your eyes have probably already been opened a little bit already. I think the biggest misconception is that it is only an HD web video. It is so much more than that; it is a presentation tool, it is a recruiting tool, it is a declaration of your individual hotel brand. You may be a part of a huge conglomerate but each property has its own stamp and you need to have something that shows what is unique and different about your location.
As far as cost goes, you have to consider the logistics.
Preproduction days that consist of planning the shots, coordinating travel, casting for actors (if you have them), and then the crew on set. You need at least two people to pull even the most basic shoot off. Anything that involves actors jumps the crew number up to at least 5. Now factor in equipment costs and you have got a little idea of what all goes into it.
Postcard Inn on the Beach Lifestyle
From a money stand point, you have to think about what you need to achieve ROI. If you get Ten people/family’s on the fence to come to your hotel instead of not coming, if you get a handful of brides to choose your venue over another, if you get three companies to choose your hotel for a retreat….
You don’t need all of these; just one of those examples will pay for the shoot. After those few customers you are now profiting on your investment and that video is good for the next couple of years…not to mention the prestige within your industry/company of having one of the best videos around.