When someone asks if they should create video or virtual tours, it can be useful to think of Gilligan’s Island, and the old question still debated today: “Ginger or Mary Ann?” There is no right or wrong answer — each has their own pros and cons.  Let’s equate Ginger, our movie star, to the video category and Mary Ann, our girl next door, to our 360-degree virtual tour category. Like Ginger, video done properly can be sexy, alluring and pricy. On the other hand, Mary Ann, like virtual tours, is considered honest, friendly and affordable.  Now imagine you are the marketing manager of a resort on a tropical island and the boss asks if we should create a promotional video or 360-degree virtual tours.The first question I would ask: what’s the budget? The second question to ask yourself: “how’s the photography!?” Great still images should be your foundation – that’s the starting point for prospects. If they like your photos, they’ll be motivated to “see” and “learn” more – this is where videos and 360-degree virtual tours come in.

Video allows you to show exactly what you want to show, a teaser if you will, of the properties highlights in a commonly accepted format. Pressing play and expecting an attractive video online has become so commonplace that YouTube is the second largest search engine (behind parent company, Google).

A respectable video will cost $10K and up! This is not a place to skimp on cost. For example, a 6 year old can shoot 1080p HD video… on an iPhone. Good video requires some thought. Consider starting with a 2-3 man production crew with a respectable production package (camera, lenses, tripod, light kit, etc).

Additional monies should be contemplated for production “toys” like a jib arm, dolly, steadicam, etc – things that help create the fluid video movement.  Don’t forget scripting, voice over talent, music, aerials, camera talent (do you get paid models or wrangle hotel staff and guests – don’t forget talent releases), hair and make-up, wardrobe, art direction, graphics and special effects in post-production, etc.  You get the idea.

Video can get pricey, but an effective video generates higher conversions and increases the average daily rate because the consumer perceives greater value. A property with no video, or even worse a low quality video or a poorly created photo slide show, may devalue your offering.

Video, especially a video viewed online, should be short – no longer than 1 to 1½ minutes. If you feel you can’t showcase the entire property in a minute or less, try breaking it into sub videos – an overview video, and sub videos to focus on specific areas: meeting spaces, golf course, spa, dining, activities, accommodations, and local area (highlights nearby).

The cost to create high quality 360-degree virtual tours ranges from $250 to $500 per image (location). The crew would consist of one photographer with a camera, wide angle lens and tripod (with rotating head).  Also, the production process is much faster and less intrusive and the return on investment can exceed video. Like video costs, you can also find photographers who produce 360-degree virtual tours for less – but the old adage generally applies: you get what you pay for.

360-degree virtual tours have improved dramatically over the last decade – visuals that rival any high quality photo can now be displayed full screen. It gives consumers an honest and accurate representation of the room, lobby, meeting space, restaurant, pool, etc. Simply put, what you see is what you get.

Consumers interactively choose the 360-degree virtual tours they want to see and spend as much time as they want viewing them, whereas video is a linear presentation. Many of the newer 360 virtual tour players provide additional elements such as detailed text descriptions, interactive property maps, supporting photos, and weather forecast.

If you look at the booking cycle from the consumer’s perspective, the first elemental component would be good photography. If your property comes up when a consumer is searching for you and they see appealing photos they will stop and look. If they like what they see (and it’s in their budget), they will go to rich media and reviews to vet and validate their selection. In the final stage of selecting a room type, a 360 image is a tremendous help.

If the budget Gods have descended upon you and you can afford to do both, do it – they will both be used in the booking funnel. That brings us to the last point on your visuals – integrative marketing – make sure your visuals are in as many touch points with the prospective consumers as possible. Don’t create a great video and only show it on your website expecting prospects to flock to your site – your job, as a marketer is to get your best visuals in front of as many prospects as you can within your budgetary constraints – distribute your content everywhere!

To summarize, if you’re stuck on an island — you have to choose between Ginger (video), who is glitzy, glamorous and expensive, or Mary Ann who is down to earth, simple and honest. We’ll also assume you’re not Thurston Howell III and can’t afford them both. Historically, Mary Ann has been the chosen one 3 to 1 over ginger, but there’s no right or wrong answer.

No matter what your visual needs or preferences are, IcePortal can provide you with guidance and support to help you reach your hotel’s visual goals. We are the travel industry’s visual content experts with over twenty years of experience in shooting photos, videos, and virtual tours. If your hotel already has a robust visual portfolio, we can help you take it to the next level by distributing all your photos, videos, and virtual tours to 1000s of Online Travel Agencies (Expedia, Kayak, Priceline, Orbitz…), Search Engines, Social Networks, and Mobile Platforms. Anywhere your hotel has a listing, IcePortal will distribute your visuals to them so that potential customers can see your BEST visual content.
These recommendations are collected from various industry ‘best practices’. Have a look at what other hotels in your area are doing with their visuals and how you can be more competitive. Give us a call at +1-954-893-6778 or Email if you have any questions!

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