How to Make a Great Hotel Video on a Shoestring Budget
Fundamental to any great digital marketing strategy for hotels is visual storytelling. Using a blend of words, pictures, video and audio helps convey your property’s unique story to travel shoppers in an engaging manner. A hotel video, in particular, shows off the space and overall vibe of your property in a dynamic way, helping develop an emotional connection with travel shoppers – something which has been shown to influence purchase intent.
However, producing video may seem like a daunting task to some hoteliers; perceived as too timely and expensive to warrant the effort. But that’s just a myth. Video can actually be relatively easy and inexpensive to produce.
Furthermore, it’s a great way to grab the attention of potential guests and, ultimately, drive direct bookings. According to Google, 42% of travel shoppers use YouTube videos as a source of inspiration when planning a trip, and 50% of travelers prefer to watch video on a hotel’s website than any other channel.
But how can hoteliers, especially those from small properties, create videos without breaking the bank? In this article, we’ll outline some simple and practical tips for creating a high-quality hotel video on a shoestring budget.
Deciding what to shoot
The first step is deciding what video to make. According to a study by SoftwareAdvice.com, a company that reviews hotel software, 57% of hotel shoppers want to see videos of your guest rooms, suites and common areas, such as the lobby. So that’s a good place to start. The spa, pool or gym rank second (20%), with travelers also indicating an interest in the natural scenery, on-site restaurant and your hotel’s staff. Not surprisingly, hotel shoppers prefer informational videos over promotional ones; videos that provide important details about the hotel and its location without being too salesy.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your hotel videos. If you are hard pressed for inspiration, ask your hotel staff what they think makes your hotel appealing. Ask your guests what made them choose your hotel and what their favorite parts of your property are. You can even use their testimonials and interviews in your video (with consent, of course).
Make the most of your smartphone camera
The most important part of your video is, of course, the visuals. You want the visuals to be crisp and clean so that your hotel video looks professional. Smartphone cameras have come a long way in the last few years, now able to record in 720p and 1080p resolutions for greater clarity. In fact, Kanye West’s music video “Only One” was shot entirely on the iPhone 6S, and Apple has launched an advertising campaign around videos “Shot on iPhone.” Here’s an example of one of them:
Whether you’re looking to make videos of your guest rooms, live events, or something else, your smartphone is more than capable of doing the job. To make it look as professional as possible, here are some steps to take before shooting:
Video files are large and can quickly fill your phone’s hard drive. Ensure you have enough storage on your smartphone before you begin. Clear the internal storage and only leave the things you absolutely need. This is especially important for iPhones, which do not have expandable hard drives. Many Android phones, on the other hand, allow for expandable disc space, meaning you can buy as much as 128GB of space on a microSD card, which should be enough for most of your shots.
Make sure your camera app has an option for “manual exposure.” Automatic exposure is great for taking photos and recording video of subjects that are not moving, or moving very slowly, because the light across the object isn’t moving quickly. However, sometimes when filming people’s faces or filming live events, light can change quickly. Automatic exposure can make your shot go from nicely lit to either very dark or very bright. Manual exposure is best to counteract this problem. For Android phones, this can be done easily with Open Camera, for iPhone it can be done using the native camera app.
One of the hallmarks of amateur video is instability. While shaky video is fine for personal videos, it won’t do for a video on your hotel website. For a low cost, you can invest in a tripod and cellphone mount to get rid of the shakes.
Creating a highly visual video is great, but adding audio will really enhance it, to help develop more of an emotional connection with viewers. If you want to include testimonials or voiceovers in your videos, you should invest in a simple microphone. One mic which comes highly recommended (and is relatively inexpensive) is the RODE smartLav, which works on iPhone and Android with any recording app. It clips onto your clothes and plugs directly into your smartphone’s audio input.
Unless you’re filming a psychological thriller, try to avoid dimly-lit spaces with poor natural light. Cellphones tend to have very small apertures, which means that less light can enter the lens resulting in a grainy or “noisy” looking shot. If the room you are shooting in doesn’t have enough light to illuminate the whole room evenly, bring in a few extra lamps to help brighten the space, or find an alternative location to shoot.
If you are planning on doing a voiceover for your video, make sure you write out what you plan to say and have it more or less memorized. The last thing you want is to sound wooden, unprepared or lack confidence about your property. Practice, practice, practice before recording.
How to shoot your hotel video
Shooting the video itself is actually the easiest part of the entire project. Once you have all the appropriate equipment, and have decided what to shoot, follow these steps:
- Clean the lens of the camera with a piece of dry cloth. Especially if your cellphone has been in your pocket, the camera lens might have dust or fingerprints on it, which may distort your shot.
- Set up the room with adequate lighting, and check the shot on your phone to make sure it looks good.
- If you are recording a person speaking, make sure their face is evenly lit on-camera. If you are using a mic, attach it to them and plug it into your phone.
- Mount your phone on a tripod and always shoot in landscape orientation (never shoot portrait, it looks unprofessional).
- If you’re recording a person, make sure the camera is positioned slightly below their eye level, and far enough away that you can see a little space above their head in shot. Ideally, you want to film someone from the waist up (this is called a “medium shot”).
- If someone is narrating the video and wants to address viewers directly, make sure they’re looking into the camera. If you are conducting an interview with someone, stand behind the camera and slightly to the side. Have them turn their body to face you. Maintain eye contact with each other and try to converse as naturally as possible.
- Record several versions of the video. People tend to relax more after a few takes and it’s always good to have options on what footage to use.
Now that you have your raw footage, you need to put it together in an appealing way. To do this, you’ll need some editing software.
YouTube Editor is a very simple and effective way to edit your video for free. It includes enough basic features to make a video look decent. Another benefit of YouTube Editor is that despite it being web based, it’s surprisingly quick. Once you upload your video files, it fairly intuitive to use.
If you want a more heavy-duty editing software without spending a lot, Adobe Premier Elements will definitely get the job done. It’s the beginner version of the very same software professional studios use.
If you’re looking for some music to add to your video, check out YouTube’s Creator Studio, which offers royalty-free music for download, regardless of which editing software you use.
Uploading your video
Once you’ve edited your video, you need to host it somewhere online. YouTube is an obvious choice and great for getting more exposure to your video, but make sure you also embed your hotel video on your website. Remember that 50% of travelers prefer watching video on a hotel’s website.
When uploading your video to YouTube, include your hotel’s name and website address in the video description, so people can easily find your website after watching and explore further.
For more advice on how to use video (and other social media platforms) to your advantage, download our Cheat Sheets for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Video!