Visual Storytelling is a great way to set your hotel property apart from its competitors online. This innovative way of marketing creates a great opportunity for hotels to leverage the stories that are unfolding at the property each and every day.
In our recent webinar on Visual Storytelling, we asked attendees to submit their questions on the topic. Here are some of the top questions with our answers with contributions from guest speaker Greg Oates of 200rooms.com.
Alana asked: What is my story and how do I find it?
Alana, your story is what makes your hotel uniquely compelling to travelers you wish to attract. Much of your story can be found by reading online reviews of your hotel and what your guests are sharing with their friends about your hotel on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and so on. Guests will tell you what makes your hotel unique and compelling and what doesn’t… so looking through reviews and social media are a good place to start looking.
Steve asked: Telling a visually interesting story on so many channels (website, blog, social media) can be time consuming. Which do you strategically recommend we focus on?
Steve, keep in mind a typical guest uses more than two dozen touch points to research a trip (Atmosphere Research Group, LLC). People are researching, but they’re going to be very picky about where they spend their money. The expansion behind social sites has created tons more places to research and gather feedback from. This being said, you want to make sure your stories are available consistently across your website, mobile site, third parties and of course, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube).
It’s not as difficult as you may think. Twitter, for example isn’t much different from Facebook. At the core, Twitter is a simple newsfeed; you decide what news comes in. Even if you don’t want to go the extra mile, it can be a completely passive experience to see what other people are saying about your hotel. Then, you’re armed with information to help you tell your story. Twitter is something that everyone should try to understand.
The benefits you’ll gain by going the extra distance are worth the effort. Be present for today’s 2-dozen-click travel shoppers.
Axel asked: I see the value of visual storytelling when targeting leisure travelers, but what about business travelers? Does it have the same impact?
Yes it does, Axel! Every traveler, regardless of their purpose, wants a great travel experience. Business travelers and event planners look for very particular features in a property. Your property can tell a story that features the right amenities that suit the traveler’s needs. For a business guest, this can mean showing visuals of meeting rooms or displaying guests accessing high speed internet in their room. A visual story doesn’t have to feature things that only appeal to leisure guests; it’s a great tool to attract business travelers as well.
Sarah asked: What are some of the best hotel stories you’ve seen?
The “best” stories are from those hotels that are one-of-a-kind, including historic properties at all budget levels, from Park Hyatt Buenos Aires to Hotel Havana in San Antonio. Or they’re the most modern and innovative, such as ICEHOTEL in Sweden or new Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Hotel in China. For hotels that don’t have an obvious inherent story like those above, their best storytelling is created at the operational level on a day-to-day basis.
For example, Hyatt’s Andaz Hotels are actively engaging guests with local artists and small businesses. Andaz Liverpool invited a local vintage clothing shop to set up a pop-up retail outlet in their lobby. Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi hooks guests up with local fisherman to go fishing in a dhow at sunset. In a similar vein, The Royal Palm Miami Beach hosts members of the local symphony for concerts on-property. Hotel Erwin in Venice has a tattoo package that comes with a new tattoo and bottle of tequila. Any hotel can partner with local people and organizations to create compelling stories that they can share with their guests in-house and online.
The variety of stories are endless. The Benjamin in New York created the world’s first Sleep Concierge and earned huge press. El Dorado in Santa Fe brings in local painters to teach art education. The Mansion on Forsyth Park in Savannah built a professional kitchen in its basement for cooking classes. Gladstone Hotel in Toronto created an LGBT art festival. Sheraton hosts a wine-themed happy hour; Renaissance creates neighborhood guides for corporate groups, and Hilton matches guest donations to Hurricane Sandy relief with Hilton loyalty points. And here’s a great way to share photos about your hotel and destination. ALT Hotels in Canada hosted a month-long Instagram contest and received 85,000 submissions. All of these initiatives above can be recreated at any hotel, and all of them are stories to share.
A hotel might also consider changing its “About” page to an “Our Story” page. That will help provide direction for choosing stories to tell. Here is a good example at Lydmar Hotel in Stockholm.
For more inspiration, read the websites at Design Hotels and Tablet Hotels. They are experts at crafting stories (experiences + emotions = stories) specific to their hotel partners and destinations. Which brings up an important point. If your hotel doesn’t have a lot of stories to tell presently, share stories relevant to the destination and your guest demographics.
If you have any more questions you’d like answered, submit them in the comment box below. Missed the webinar? No problem, watch it here.