I interviewed TripAdvisor’s Manager of Business & Trade Public Relations, Kevin Carter, who shared with me some of the newer activities their company has been doing to encourage online video marketing with lodging owners, and video participation with travelers. Kevin and I also share our tips on what types of videos travelers want to see, and how lodging businesses can do better online video marketing themselves.

TripAdvisor’s Online Video Tools for Travelers and Travel-Oriented Businesses

TripAdvisor® is a popular travel and lodging site offering both trip planning and featuring reviews and advice around hotels, resorts, rentals, flights, cruises, vacation rentals, vacation packages, travel guides, restaurants, and other attractions. “We’ve been working hard to make online marketing, including video marketing, as intuitive for business owners as possible,” said Kevin.

Unlimited video submissions

On TripAdvisor, both travelers and property/business owners are able to submit videos, enabling researching travelers to view both types when they are deciding which properties to book.

“Properties looking to increase their engagement with travelers can register their properties for free on the TripAdvisor Management Center and submit their own videos from there,” said Kevin. “Once they have registered, they have access to a wealth of free resources and tools to help them respond to traveler reviews, track their success on the site, update their hotel details, and even upload an unlimited number of photos and videos meeting our site’s criteria. We consider it a great way for them to put their best foot forward and capture travelers’ attention.”

Video reviews

The TripAdvisor Travel Video library categorizes videos by “top rated” and “newest,” as you can see in the screenshot provided below.

Encouraging user generated content

TripAdvisor has a lot of tools and resources available through our Management Center and Widget Center to help properties encourage more user-generated content. These include reminder cards and online widgets. One hotel group that is doing a great job encouraging and leveraging UGC is New York City-based HKHotels. (Early last year, HKHotels announced having all 4 of their New York rank in the top 4 hotels in NYC by the members of TripAdvisor.)

Marketing help videos

TripAdvisor also has a video help site just for businesses, including how to market your property, get reviews, respond to reviews, and use video to better promote your property.

Property slideshows into videos

Tripadvisor recently launched their TripWow slideshow feature for lodging and hospitality owners with business listings on their site. Here’s how it works: it automatically populates photos both owners and travelers have submitted into an animated slideshow, which will automatically play upon opening the property page. (You can watch the TripWow video overview and quickstart program for more info.) Kevin recommended checking out the TripWow example, “Cape Code Beachfront Home.”  I personally recommend seeing the video demo below.

Video SEO enabled

Here’s a special perk for the video SEO crowd: The Tripadvisor.com site boasts over 431,000 results in Google Video Search, and all videos in the TripWow subdomain appeared to be fully indexed.

Lots of Video Opportunities Being Underused

Kevin described the lodging industry as a mixed bag. “Some hotel brands are using video very well to capture the attention of travelers and inspire potential guests, while others could certainly do a lot more to leverage photos, videos and traveler reviews in their online marketing programs. There are a lot of opportunities today for properties to leverage video and other content, but not everyone is taking full advantage of them,” he said.

Growing Traveler Demand for Video

Kevin said that in addition to text reviews and opinions, travelers are more heavily seeking out properties that have photo and video content when they are making booking decisions. “Essentially, they want to make sure they are getting the best value for their money and they don’t want any surprises,” he said. “Video is a great medium for revealing what a property actually looks like and what a traveler can expect when they arrive. Certainly from a traveler perspective: the more content available, including video content, the better.”

What Travelers Want to See in Online Video by Businesses

“Travelers want to be inspired,” said Kevin.They tend to respond well to compelling video footage that provides a thorough and accurate representation of the property, including the outside, the main lobby, rooms, the dining areas and the top amenities.”

Kevin described an effective video as one that can “draw you into the property, help you imagine yourself in the destination and paint a compelling, yet accurate, picture of the experience.” He said that there are number of brands who are getting better at doing this online, and shared with me the example of one of the top-rated videos by travelers on the TripAdvisor site, The Porto Elounda Deluxe Resort.

Common Online Video Marketing Mistakes by The Travel/Lodging Industry

Kevin cited these to be the most common mishaps by businesses doing video today:

  • Setting false expectations for guests by depicting experiences that are dramatically out of sync with the rooms or the service that the average guest is likely to receive, and;
  • Dedicating a lot of footage to people talking about the property. “Again, travelers want to be inspired, so it’s best to show the experience rather than talk about it,” says Kevin.

My Own Online Video Marketing Tips for Business Owners in the Travel, Lodging, and Hospitality Industries

  • Collaborate with travel authors and hotel consultants. These are people who know the ins and outs, from both an insider and outsider perspective, who regularly connect with many travelers. It works to both of your benefit to collaborate on some video content you both can share online around a helpful and creative topic. This also speaks to the next tip:
  • Produce, distribute, and promote sponsored web videos around interesting content, and familiar/trusted personalities.
  • Feature your customers – this really should be a no-brainer. Travelers seem to respond best to videos featuring other travelers like themselves. Simply having them share their traveling stories and their experiences with your property – whether is owner-produced or consumer-produced, is perhaps the best way to persuade others to check you out and make reservations.
  • ASK your customers – ask them what they would like to see, and respond to their questions and comments with custom video. You can also encourage them to submit videos of their experiences at your place, and reward them for their feedback. (Having a contest tends to be pretty effective.)
  • Optimize your videos, yourself – both on your own site and YouTube channel.
  • Vet any agency you’re considering hiring to do your online video marketing activities. I personally get emails from one company touting themselves as being best online marketing agency for the lodging industry (whom I’m particularly familiar with since they also do the search engine marketing speaking circuit). Their sales people like to assure me that they do online video optimization for their clients. However, every time I respond to them to show me just one actual client example, nothing. So my advice if you’re considering an agency: Make sure that they can first show you an active example, or at least a single case study!