Written for the Occupancy Marketing blog

There should be so much to say about how hotels are using the popular video app “Vine” to promote themselves… but sadly hardly any hotels are using it yet. The even newer (but almost identical) new feature from Instagram (that also lets you create short video clips) is also seeing little early-adopter interest from hotels and the travel sector. Here are a few of the highlights:

– The Cavendish Hotel hosted a Valentines Vine competition – more here, with some very creative entries
– VisitMonaco retweeting a hotel guest who posted a cool Instagram taken from their window
– Spring Hill Suites thanked a guest for posting a 6 second hotel tour
– Vine has been used to show off a networking event at a hotel
– Four Seasons Paris have an Instagram showing off some flower decoration

… but that’s thin pickings considering how many hotels there are in the world!

Let’s go back to the start – what are Vine and Instagram? Instagram is a photo sharing mobile app that focuses on taking adding filters to each image. Instagram has recently been bought by Facebook for the astronomical sum of $1 billion. Vine is a mobile app that does almost the same job as Instagram does for photos, except this time for 6 second videos made up of one or more short clips. At the start of June Facebook got onto the video bandwagon and upgraded their image-only Instagram app to allow users to take video as well – this time with videos of up to 15 seconds. Both apps have similar interfaces, do a similar job and are pretty easy to use. So why are hotels not using them yet?

The relationship between hotels and video is a difficult one – or, more accurately, an expensive one. Hotels shy away from video because even for a short trailer or tour video it can be expensive (not to mention the hassle of having the crew at the hotel, closing off parts of the hotel, interrupting guests, taking staff away from other work, the “extra” expense of all the post-production, etc). From an SEO point of view we know that video helps users convert more than photography does – but some hotels find it hard to justify the cost of video when photography does such a good job of improving conversions and is comparatively so much easier to do. I think that there is also a factor that there are so many amateur photographers with decent enough equipment that smaller hotels can get away with local, on-site photographers but the step up to video is a big shift and requires different knowledge, terminology, budgets and contacts from further afield that make video a bit harder to take on as a marketing strategy.

That said there are plenty of hotels that make a great job of video – be it through video tours, promotions for upcoming breaks/events, interviews with staff, events coverage, etc. But, even more to the point, the appeal of Vine video clips is that they aren’t professional, aren’t recorded on £20,000 cameras and can be done on your phone… so what should hotels do to get on board? Start with the apps – download them from http://instagram.com/ or https://vine.co/ and give them both a whirl. If you are already established on Instagram then you might want to stick with that app, if you are new to both and a heavy Twitter user then we’d recommend Vine although there aren’t many differences for most users. (Interface-wise our personal preference is for Vine, Instagram has a larger market share – 130 million users versus 30 million – so will potentially be more familiar to your fans).

The differences between Vine and Instagram:

– Vine allows 6 seconds, Instagram allows 16
– Vine pauses on the first frame, Instagram lets you chose a cover image
– Instagram lets you selectively delete frames, Vine doesn’t (but you can start over)
– Vine doesn’t have any focus tools yet, Instagram lets you tap to focus
– Vine is all natural, Instagram lets you add a filter to the video
– Instagram has image stabilization
– Both videos can be embedded – for Vine you go to “Share”, for Instagram you need to go to the Instagram website, view a video and clock the embed icon
– Vines loop – Instagrams play once
– Sharing options on Instagram are more extensive (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Email, Foursquare) whereas Vine posts to only Facebook and Twitter

Once you’ve figured out how to work the app you’ll want to think about how you can use them for your hotel. Focus on keeping it short, simple and visual – users don’t expect the highest quality but please don’t try to cram too much into 6 seconds. Suggested content includes:

– Hotel tours – hotel, rooms, spa, grounds, bar, etc.
– User your staff to show off their skills with an interview or stop-motion style video showing, for example, how to make a drink at the bar or plate up an afternoon tea – Verve Coffee have a great example
– Take clips that show off an event, wedding or live music
– Make really short interviews with guests
– Highlighting the small features that make your hotel special – remote controlled curtains, flower arrangements, etc.

Focus mainly on creativity, not promotional content and always remember to share some of what you post on your other social networks too. Encourage users by replying to any mentions of your hotel and ask guests to post their own videos of your hotel. Lastly – let us know what you’re up to – we’d love to hear from you!