There was an interesting round table discussion recently sponsored by visual content management powerhouse, VFM Leonardo .
The basic question the panel was asked to consider was this: Why is hotel web site content so boring, and how can it be made more engaging for the traveler?
It so happens, that the initial stage in travel decisions is the all-important “Planning Stage,” the tipping point, so to speak.
So if content is almost exclusively transactional and booking-oriented (which it is), the customer’s emotional needs are not met.
And if the emotional needs are not met, the panel agreed, there is no incentive to book because there is no excitement; no connection to the property or destination.
I think it was Keith Harrison, Director of Strategic Hotel Content at TravelPort who sited a report claiming that 44 percent of people would pay more money if they could experience what their stay at a hotel would really be like before they go.
If that’s true, then why isn’t hotel content more vivid; more rich-more tied into the customers “experiential” needs?
One explanation was that those in charge of providing content for hotel web site and portals are thinking too much like IT people and not about the “wow” factor of a property.
Edward Perry, E-commerce Director at VFM Leonardo referenced a Forrester Research study that said two-thirds if consumers won’t even consider a hotel unless the visuals are compelling.
So, again, how can hotels make their content connect more?
One surprisingly obvious answer was video.
All the participants said that video was a must; perhaps the single, strongest content enhancer.
More importantly they argued, what mattered was not just putting video highlighting a property on a hotel or destination’s web site.
Given all the video sharing sites today, being able to share the video globally, and thus powering hotel brands is critical. But it’s a concept destination and property managers don’t get.
We at Travel Video PostCard are well aware of the “video illiteracy” of most hotels.
We see the struggle for our client hotels and destinations (except New Media-award winning Tourism Ireland) to fully embrace the idea.
Some argued that hotel brands still think video is too expensive to produce, failing to grasp how new technologies make video production a very cheap event with huge ROI.
A big question was why hotels seem to feature empty hotel rooms and too-gorgeous people in their images and videos.
One answer was that architectural shots like a dining room or suite gave no offense. Imagine, said a speaker, if you were a childless couple, how would you feel seeing a video or images of a family cavorting in the pool?
Regardless, whatever the combination is (text, images, video), the overarching idea was to move away from the dry content of most hotel web sites, and create the kind of content that pulls the visitor into the property or destination even before they arrive.
Our vote goes to video, of course, but an emotional mix of video, strong still images and fun text will carry the client to the booking process, happily. ,