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Create Videos about Your Hotel - Your Guests Already Are!

O’Rourke Hospitality Marketing has been conducting research on how New England Hotels are using Internet Marketing. Every month we focus on a different strategy and write an information-packed ‘tip’ with step-by-step instructions on why the strategy is important and how to implement it. This month we focused on videos (tip 4 of the series), and our research has revealed that 77% of New England first class and luxury hotels don’t use videos! In the tip that follows we have outlined what types of videos your hotel can use, why your hotel should be using videos, and instructions on how you can create your own videos.

What types of videos can my hotel use?  
  • Professionally shot promotional videos
The most traditional hotel video is professionally shot and edited, and promotes the hotel or city. You should not attempt to shoot this type of video yourself because it will most likely be a lesser quality and appear to be low-budget. A great example of a promotional video is the Marriott Marquis Times Square.
  • Virtual tour / walkthrough
The virtual tour videos are still very popular, and allow the guest to view the hotel as if they were walking through it. This type of video is often composed of a sequence of video images with music and narration. For an example of a virtual tour, see the JW Marriott Hotel Pennsylvania Avenue video.
  • Hotel-produced videos
You can create your own videos for your hotel. Many hotels are hesitant to create their own videos because they may be afraid of the technical aspect, or it’s just something they have never done before. However, hotel-produced videos are not meant to replace professional videos about your hotel, they are meant to be more of a communication channel and another way to drive traffic to your website. You could produce short video clips about special events at your hotel, interesting shops and restaurants in your city, or guest interviews. You can then post your videos on your blog and upload them to video sharing sites.
In a previous tip, we interviewed Juli Lederhaus, the General Manager of the historic Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, MA, about blogging. Juli also produced some great videos about the Hawthorne Hotel and Salem, and posted them on her blog and on You Tube. In one video she recorded Jim McAllister, a Salem historian, giving a tour of the Salem Marine Society. This video has received over 1,000 views.
  • Guest-produced videos
Parallel to the way travelers are writing and reading guest reviews about hotels, they are also uploading and watching videos about hotels. Guests are no longer satisfied with hotel-produced videos, and they want to see the guests’ videos for the ‘real picture’. They know that hotel-produced videos only showcase the positive aspects of a hotel, and that guest-produced videos will show both the positive and negative aspects. Some guest  videos are taken with the purpose of creating a review, and others are more focused on an event at your hotel such as a wedding or a conference.
Guests can post their videos on video sharing sites such as You Tube, as well as travel review sites such as TripAdvisor. There are many travel related sites that feature guest-produced videos about hotels including Travelistic, IgoUgo, and Hotelly. Brooke Dowd of Luggage Online compiled a list of ‘50 Travel Sites You’ve Probably Never Heard Of’. Many of these sites also allow travelers to post their hotel videos. As a side note, Luggage Online is a good example of ‘pull marketing’ where travelers are drawn to the Luggage Online website because of the useful information and articles. Once on the site, users may be tempted to purchase a new suitcase!
Hotels should employ reputation management and monitor guest-produced videos about their hotels. One way to do this is to search on your hotel name in Google and then click on the ‘Video’ tab in the menu at the top. Google will display videos that have your hotel name as a tag. The results may show some of your hotel-produced videos and some guest-generated videos. Below is an example of the video results page for the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, MA.

So what can hotels do about guest-produced videos? Not a whole lot! However, not all of these videos are undesirable. As mentioned earlier, many travelers prefer to watch guest-produced videos and this can mean more publicity for your hotel. If a previous guest does create a negative video about your hotel you should try to remedy the situation. Some sites such as TripAdvisor allow you to post a manager’s response. We also suggest that you create many hotel-produced videos that you do have control over.
Another piece of advice, if you can’t beat them, join them! A good example of this is the Seaport Hotel in Boston who even joined in on a guest-produced video about their hotel. In this case, there was an AAJA convention and many of the journalists stayed at the Seaport Hotel. One reporter filmed a video at the hotel which focused on the ‘Pillow Library’ which allows guests to select hypoallergenic, down and memory foam pillows. In the video, an AAJA member requested a pillow, but the hotel didn't have that pillow at the time.
The guests then interviewed Matthew Moore, the Seaport Hotel Room Director, who kindly explained that due to the popularity of the program, the hotel needs to limit the pillow quantity to four a room. He also said that the hotel has a waiting list if the pillow of choice is not available. Moore added some humor to the situation and discussed the best type of pillow for a pillow fight. The final outcome is that Moore’s participation in the video turned the situation around, and what could have been a negative video became a positive one.
Another hotel chain that is embracing the use of videos is the Omni Hotels. Last summer they even offered guests complimentary usage of Flip Video camcorders. Guests could film anything they liked and enter the video in a contest for a chance to win a trip to the Omni Bedford Springs Resort.
Why does My Hotel Need Videos?  
  • Videos can increase your online visibility and drive traffic to your website.
If you optimize your videos correctly, they can appear in the search results of Google for your chosen keywords. You can also place your videos on your blog, video-sharing sites, or in your articles.
Below is an example of how video increased the Hawthorne Hotel’s online visibility. We conducted a search on ‘Salem Marine Society’ and the Hawthorne video appeared as number 4 on the first page of Google (see below), and number 1 under videos. This means that someone interested in visiting Salem for the marine history, may see the Hawthorne Hotel’s video and decide to book a room.

  • Guests enjoy watching videos.
According to an Official YouTube Blog post on October 9th, the site receives over a billion views a day! And as the Pew Internet & American Life Project reports, the share of adults who watch videos on video sharing sites has nearly doubled since 2006. Fully 62% of adult internet users have watched video on these sites, up from 33% who reported this in December 2006.*
* Madden, Mary. The Audience for Online Video-Sharing Sites Shoots Up. Pew Internet & American Life Project, July 29, 2009,, accessed on October 14, 2009.
  • Videos can engage your guests.
A large percentage of your target audience is online, and you can reach them with engaging content, whether it be through social media sites, blogs, or videos. Videos are interesting to guests, and can also help give a human voice to your hotel.
  • Your video could ‘go viral’.
If a video is very unique, people may send it to each other, send tweets about it on Twitter, or put it on their Facebook or blog. A video that achieves this widespread popularity is considered a viral video. The videos that go viral are often funny, dangerous or just plain stupid. One example of a video that went viral is called The Best Wedding Entrance Dance Ever and it has received 2,807,042 views. Some companies try to produce videos using comic elements in the hopes that their video will go viral. Companies who attempt this must be clear of their objectives and budget, as these videos can be expensive and there is no guarantee that they will be successful.   

How do I Produce Videos for my Hotel?
In the beginning it can be intimidating to record videos or speak in front of the camera. However, it gets easier with practice. Below are some steps you can take to produce, edit and upload your videos. You may have seen some of these tips mentioned in our previous article.
Step One – Buy a Recording Device
  • There are many inexpensive cameras on the market. The Flip Mino is only $179 and records great videos. You can also research other cameras and look for features you may want such as microphones, weight, or high definition. Browse through sites such as C-Net,, B&H or Amazon to see the cameras and price ranges available. You can even record on your iPhone.
Step Two: Record Your Video
  • Try to keep your video short. It is often recommended that it be no more than 2 minutes.
  • Use a tripod to keep the camera steady.
  • Use correct resolution
Use a minimum resolution of 640 x 480 (4:3 SD) or 1280 x 720 (16 x 9 HD) for a wider video. Most cameras will allow you to set the resolution you would like or you may have to modify the video yourself.
  • Control light
Try to shoot with one light source. Mixed lighting such as Tungsten lights, florescent lights, and daylight together can affect your colors.
If you are shooting outdoors try to shoot early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the direct sunlight which can be glaring and cause harsh shadows.
Film with the light source facing the subject, not behind the it which could cause a silhouette effect.
Use supplemental lighting if you need to. These can be handheld objects such as white poster boards. You could also record by light colored stationary objects such as buildings. With practice, you can learn to control the reflected light to reduce shadows.
  • Control sound
Be aware of where you are filming and do not record in an environment with a lot of background noise. If possible use an external microphone which will reduce the ambient noise. If you are shooting outdoors enable a low cut or wind cut filter on the microphone.
  • Remember the obvious
It is important to keep in mind obvious things that people tend to ‘forget’ in the excitement of filming a video. If you are filming a person remember not to cut off the top of their head. Remind your subjects to be relaxed, speak up, and smile. Bright clothing and an attractive background will help as well.

Step Three: Edit Your Video
There are many programs you can use to edit your videos. We have outlined a few below.
iMovie is a basic program that allows you to crop, color correct, add music and create transition such as fade-outs. iMovie is installed in the Mac computer and is part of the Mac products, but you could you buy parallel software for a PC.
QuickTime Pro is another basic program that allows you crop your video and add audio.  You can also export your video to a format optimized for the internet, iPhone or iPod. QuickTime Pro is available for the Mac or PC.
Final Cut Express, a less expensive version of Final Cut, is designed for the Mac and allows you to create more sophisticated effects.
Adobe Premier Elements is a less expensive version of Adobe Premiere Pro, and is designed for a PC. This software also allows for sophisticated editing.
For more information about editing, see this article on Top 10 Video Editing Software . Most of the software listed is for the PC.
  • Brand your video
Many of the editing programs allow you to create banners with your name or logo on the video. Maintain your hotel brand voice and customize your banners with your logo and colors.
  • Export video file
It is recommended that you export your video as .mp4 H264. This will give you high quality with a smaller file size than the equivalent format. Regarding sound, it is recommended that you use either MP3 or AAC sound encoding, with a sample rate of 44.1kHz. Also, use stereo sound, not mono.

Step Four: Upload Your Video to You Tube and Your Blog
Below is a brief outline of how to upload your video to You Tube and your blog. You should also read Step Five on how to optimize your video and Step Six on how to promote your video.
  • Create an account in You Tube. You can also set up a You Tube channel which allows you to brand your colors and upload your logo. To edit your channel, go to your Account menu, select ‘Overview’, click on the icon that says ‘Edit Channel’, then select ‘Channel Design’.
  • Select the yellow upload button on the top right hand side of any You Tube page.

  • Click ‘Browse’ and select the video you want to upload.
  • Click ‘Upload Video’.
  • Enter in your Title, Description, and Tags with your keywords. Refer to step five: Optimize Your Video for tips on keyword research.
  • Click ‘Save Changes’.
  • If  you need help refer to the You Tube help menu.
  • Put your video on your website or your blog. Instructions differ on how to embed your video in your blog depending on the blogging software you use. It is not very difficult and you usually copy and paste the embed code from You Tube. You can find tutorials online that will explain the process.
Step Five: Optimize Your Video

Similar to your website, articles, and blogs, you must also optimize your videos so that they appear in the search engine results pages and also in the You Tube results pages. You optimize your You Tube videos with relevant keywords, but your ranking is also affected by the number of views and votes your video has received.
  • Optimize your video with keywords
When you upload your video to a video sharing site you must put your keywords in the title, description, and tags. Make sure the keywords used in your title also appear in the description.
  • Conduct keyword research
It is important to use relevant keywords that you want your video to appear for. Below are some ideas on how to do this.
-Research the competition for related keywords, tags and descriptions.
-Use You Tube’s built-in keyword suggestions tool. In the search bar you can begin typing a phrase and You Tube will show you predictive text which displays popular search queries in order of search volume. Below is a graphic of the beginning of a search on social media.

Step Six: Promote Your Video

Now that your video is uploaded and optimized you should also ‘seed’ it to as many different places as possible. Below are some suggestions where to place it.
  • In step four we explained how to upload your video to You Tube. There are many other video sharing sites where you can submit your video as well.  Open a free account with Tubemogul. This site allows you to upload your video only once, and it will distribute your video to over 20 different sites. You must spend some time setting up the various site accounts, but after that it is very easy. Tubemogul also allows you to track the stats of your videos.
  • Send a Tweet with a link to your video. You can shorten your URL with a free tool such as When you upload a video to You Tube you have an option to have it automatically post to Twitter or Facebook.
  • Post your video on your Facebook page.
  • Place your video on travel related sites and discussion groups.
  • Post video responses on You Tube to relevant videos, or add comments that link to your video.
  • Distribute articles with your video included.
  • If you have more than one video you can link them together for higher viewing.
  • Create a You Tube Channel and invite your friends and colleagues to subscribe.
  • Use a paid service such as You Tube’s ‘Promoted Videos’. This program is similar to pay-per-click ads in that it will display your video alongside the search results of related videos and you only pay when someone clicks on it. Google recently announced that users will now be able to buy Promoted Videos directly in AdWords which will make it easier for users to manage their campaigns.
  • When filling out the description box in You Tube, put a link to your website in the beginning.
  • Monitor the stats of your video with TubeMogul, YouTube Insights, and Google Analytics.
Video has Changed!
After this extensive tip, we leave you with one final thought: video has changed! Steve Garfield attests to this. Garfield is a Video Producer, Video Blogger and Social Media Guru. He is the author of ‘Get Seen: Online Video Secrets to Building your Business’. Garfield is also the founder of Boston Media Makers and he has been featured on CNN.
Garfield gave a presentation at the 2009 Inbound Marketing Summit in Boston titled, ‘One Step to Putting Video Online by Clicking a Red Button’. In his talk he emphasized how easy it is to record and upload video today. He also talked about the many types of recording devices available including webcams, cell phones, and camcorders.
Steve conducted a fun ‘experiment’ during his presentation and invited everyone with a recording device to come to the stage. He asked us to record him as he recorded us. He wanted to show how easy it was to record and upload a quick video. He recorded us on his iPhone and was able to upload the video directly from his phone to You Tube. Steve recommends attaching a microphone to your iPhone for a better sound quality. There are many microphones available on the market.
The experiment went well and there are now around 20 videos on You Tube of his presentation. Below is our own O’Rourke coverage. 

Steve recorded and uploaded his own video.

If you would like to learn more about creating videos please contact us at info@orourkehospitality or call us at 978-465-5955.
Have fun with your videos!


O’Rourke Hospitality Marketing
44 Merrimac Street
MA 01950

Also See: Thought, Reason, and Emotion Affect Consumer Decision / October 2009

Southwest Airlines is Riding the Blogosphere Like a Wild Horse! / October 2009

Don’t be Invisible Online - Learn which Websites Travelers Use to find Hotels and be Seen! / September 2009

What can a Blog do for my Hotel? The General Manager from Hawthorne Hotel Shares Insight! / September 2009

How to Edit, Export, & Upload Your Hotel Videos – Easy Technical Tips / September 2009

How Hotels Can Build Links by Leveraging their USP, PR, and Organic Growth; an O’Rourke Video Interview / September 2009

Will Google Caffeine Affect my Hotel SEO? / August 2009

Don’t Hide From Trip Advisor Reviews! / August 2009

5 Ways Hotels can Improve and Track Return on Investment from Twitter – Oh wait, there is no investment! / August 2009

Leverage Blended Search and Boost your Hotel’s Search Ranking Position / August 2009

How to Optimize Your Hotel Website for Natural Search / August 2009

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