How do action-less, people-less, laughter-less, romance-less, love-less videos emotionally engage and move us? Move us to book or buy?
VFLeonardo is an acknowledged leader in the art of visual storytelling, promoting their services to the travel industry and beyond.
Their recent webinar was called “Lets Get Visual: The Power of Telling Your (Hotel’s) Story Through Video.”
And it made some solid points, among which were:
• Video drives a 150% increase in organic search traffic
• We are a visual society and want to see stuff now
• Video evokes emotions, is dynamic and enables a company to share an experience, turning lookers into buyers and bookers
• Video increases customer engagement, and is not just a fun or nice thing to have on a website
Elsewhere, and this could be apocryphal, we have heard that a 1-minute of video is worth 1.8 million words.
There were some bright speakers: Robyn Kinnard of Wynn Las Vegas & Encore and Ben Pickering , president of SoMedia Networks, a producer and distributor of video and video technology.
Darlene Rondeau of VFLeonardo moderated.
But here’s where the webinar and its presentations confused me.
If the message was the emotional power of images to engage and move potential customers along the long tail of sales, the images presented did none of that.
Kinnard of Wynn & Encore showed a series of pretty, generic photos from their website, all of which featured lovely but sterile properly shots. They were empty, devoid of humans; more predictable than exciting.
None of the images had life in them.
No one was there doing anything.
What was I to relate to then?
A chair by the pool?
An empty table?
To her credit, Kinnard said that her boss, Steve Wynn, CEO of Wynn & Encore, made it clear that he does not, as Kinnard said, want “real people or little people” in their images..
He reasons, she said, that images without people enable a potential customer to be better able to project, or see him/herself in the pool or dining room.
A people-less, action-less picture then becomes tabula rasa, where potential guests put themselves into the scene.
Could it be he may be afraid of offending people and turning them away?
If you showed a family having fun by the pool, would childless couples want to go there?
If there were an ethnic couple dining, would that turn some potential guests off?
Meals don’t eat themselves.
Pools and product don’t move us without human interaction.
If you’re a restaurant let the video show people enjoying their meals.
The panelists are certainly right when they say video is no longer cumbersome and expensive to produce. It does drive searches, and move people to buy and book more effectively than text or print.
The good news is that digging deeper into the properties’ visual story telling, I did unearth some good video. Although there were plenty of empty rooms, there were people walking, talking, laughing, leaving the pool.
There were fun images of the chefs and people eating, and so, other than the lack of natural sound and the overuse of canned music, the videos did tell a story.
That the vids were not intuitively available on the website is a problem. But other hotel videos on the property did have natural sound and the feel of real life, including some happy goldfish in a small pool.
How many hotel videos are out there? Well, TNooz doesn’t know for sure and we’re not going too count. But they said on YouTube alone there are 25,000 user generated videos of Hilton Hotels alone.
And as if they read our minds, TNooz says they are “walk-throughs,” by guests showing individual empty rooms and glowing with praise.
And so the debate about using video at all— or if they should be made by professionals (think canned music, dreamy shots of food on plates, long pans of empty rooms) or amateurs, think awkward, random—continues.
Context and PostCards
Travel Video PostCard (one of our companies, full disclosure) takes a different approach in using video to tell a story.
The Taj Hotel, Boston Video PostCard, for example, places the elegant, Indian owned Taj squarely in the context of Yankee, Red-Sox loving, patrician Boston. And enjoys exploring how this turned out.
And like a postcard it doesn’t “show and tell.”
“Showing and Telling” is the bane of good video, and yet it’s the easiest trap to fall into.
Video makers, note: we chose the PostCard concept married too the Ken Burns affect (video and quality stills) because they show a timelessness, nostalgia and present emotions.
A postcard to a friend may show the Eiffel Tower, but on the back side, it shares the experience of Paris the emotions of being there.
Not a description of the icon.
The Fairmont Vancouver video has the same bland elevator music and a lot of empty shots.
They too present their star features, selling the property and hinting at the experience.
But they come very close to using video well in a shot showing a boy and his mom (presumably) petting a sweet looking dog. And that tells me, personally, a lot of what I want to know about the Fairmont.
Seeing a smiling check-in person and two guys playing chess and laughing as a chess piece topples, uses the video to bring us into the action and participate in the moment.
And that’s different from presenting something to us.
If video is as compelling as it seems to be, then let it be what it’s supposed to be: a means to move people… into the marketplace to buy the experience, via the product.
Again TNooz asks if this this video by Matt Rhodes of Fresh Networks may be the “best destination web video ever.”
We like it, but don’t think it’s the best. The lack of a personal narration and the hard-edge to the music and predictable rhythms of the images make story telling impossible, however visually powerful it may be.
We are not drawn in, even though we sit back and appreciate,