Earlier this month we released Content Marketing Strategies for Hospitality Brands, another report in our Skift Trends Reports service.

Below is a small excerpt from the report.

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The independent Plus creative agency in New York produces videos for a wide range of consumer clients including Starwood Hotels. The company crafted the video used to promote Starwood’s keyless mobile check-in via its SPG app in early 2014. The agency is also producing videos for Le Meridien’s Destination Unlocked campaign, which promotes the hotel group’s focus on art, music and creativity relative to each local destination.

For example, Le Meridien partnered with the band Nouvelle Vague to create music for the hotel lobbies and other programming. The band has traveled from Tampa to Kuala Lumpur to play concerts in the hotels and share their experiences in each of the destinations. Plus worked with Starwood and the band to produce videos of the band members traveling through the cities while engaging with local musicians. The end result is a series of gorgeous travel videos with individual Le Meridien hotels acting as central characters.

“Today it’s all about telling a story, because when people travel they want to have memories, they want to do things, they want to escape, and they want to have fun,” says Jeremy Hollister, founder of Plus. “So it’s about touching on those points, and how you can tell that kind of story to people through video to make them excited.”

Hollister says that nailing the right balance between editorial storytelling and commercial marketing is a primary challenge on both the creative and corporate side, but he says most major hospitality brands today are aware that traditional push marketing fails to engage the modern consumer.

“If the content is rich enough and dramatic enough, people will take that and curate it into their own travel experience in a personalized way,” he says. “We just finished another video with Nouvelle Vague in Tampa, and it’s really about discovering another side of a city. The job is to go and unlock that. So where are the creative and exciting places in a destination, maybe even a little gritty, but with an exciting aesthetic? We found a whole Afro-Cuban neighborhood and cigar factories, and hooked up with an Afro-Cuban band to find a different spin on things.”

Plus is now working with Starwood to develop new in-room TV programming, which has traditionally been weak among all hotel brands in terms of delivering actionable destination information. Most in-room content consists of a generic listing of hotel amenities and the most basic of destination content, if any at all.

Starwood and other companies see this as an untapped resource to engage guests on a more human level with new styles of video content.

“It’s been an interesting thing because it’s a huge captive audience, but people don’t necessarily pay a lot of attention to in-room TV programming, and it’s still a big representation of the brand,” says Hollister. “So how do you reformat that? And how should brands allocate budget and spend that budget, so they can deliver a range of different types of content formats?”

For independent hotels, Hollister says most of them shy away from video production because of the expense involved for professional services, compounded by the need today to constantly update content marketing. For individual hotels interested in developing video content on a tight budget, he suggests avoiding videos depicting the actual physical property. Low budget videos will only make the hotel product look less appealing.

Instead, Hollister recommends that hotels focus on the lifestyle vibe of the local destination because consumers are attracted to more street-style amateur video in that environment. Basic hand-held video production, when done well, often provides a more immediate and seemingly “authentic” experience in the eyes of the hotel guest.

“Even small hotels can do interesting stuff, but deciding what type of video you want is the biggest thing,” explains Hollister. “If you want to use video, the main priority is about understanding if the brand has a strong point of view. If they do, then that makes it much easier to use video to best communicate the hotel experience.”

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Photo Credit: The band Nouvelle Vague produced music for Le Meridien Hotels' lobbies. Nouvelle Vague