July 16, 2020
By Ashima Jain

In these unpredictable times, when social distancing has become the norm, many event planners are relegated to their homes. However, they search for event venues is still on for events planned for later this year as well as for the next year, according to the latest Cvent Supplier Network data.

This presents an opportunity for hoteliers to focus on ramping up their video marketing strategy and think about innovative ways to help planners explore your venue digitally in order to secure future business. Now is the time to consider providing virtual site walkthroughs, virtual tours, and all the vital information about your event space online to the planners as they plan for upcoming events. Let’s look at some tips and tactics to leverage video marketing and virtual tours to promote your venue and close contracts during these uncertain times.

#1) Power up your website with video

When it comes to encouraging direct bookings, you need to make a lasting impression on the planners convincing them that your hotel is the best choice to host their next big event. Make sure the visual content on your website is engaging enough that strikes hot on the planners’ purchasing intent. Undoubtedly, video is today’s star of digital marketing. Having a video on your website that demonstrates why planners should choose your hotel, not only drives traffic and engagement but creates a strong call-to-action thereby boosting the booking rates.

DON’T MISS OUT ON THE IMMERSIVE VIDEO CONTENT

Live and immersive video technologies are exciting new channels to reach meeting planners, build brand authenticity, and create real-time engagement. Live videos serve as an interactive conversation between you and the planner viewing the video and can be used to stream hotel events, host live Q&As with planners and your event team or showcase new attendee experiences. Even for planners who don’t have access to headsets yet, 360-degree and 3D videos offer immersive experiences on any computer or mobile device. Such a video allows users to move in any direction and explore your venue more thoroughly.

#2) Enhance email with video

Video has been proven to enhance engagement across all online platforms, and email is no exception. It’s true that consumers ignore most of the emails they receive in a day. Smart email marketers are still making bank. One way to boost email engagement and returns is to include videos. Wistia, a video software company, found that using video in the email led to a 300% increase in email click-through rates compared to emails without video. Just using the word “video” in your email subject lines has been found to increase open rates by 19%, and reduce unsubscribes by 25%! Although embedded videos are not supported in email across most major email clients due to spam and security reasons, embedding a video thumbnail image into your email and then linking to a landing page where that video lives is likely to be much more beneficial. According to a Salesforce blog report of Forrester research, simply including a video in an email can increase your open rate by a factor of two to three. Undoubtedly, due to the visual element, consumers like receiving video content, so why not deliver your message as per your target audiences’ preference.

#3) Enrich your social proof with customer video testimonials

A testimonial video is the most powerful and personal expression of an online review. It builds strong credibility for your brands’ offerings and services. Video testimonials show that your clients are so happy with their experience that they are willing to put their name and their face to it. When your potential customers see a real human talk about their experience in a genuine manner, it not only develops trust in your brand but also persuades them to make a booking with your hotel. Make sure you leverage every opportunity of encouraging user-generated video content. Once you have a stunning customer testimonial in the form of a video, promote it everywhere on social media as well as on your hotel’s website.

#4) Harness the potential of augmented and virtual reality

More and more meeting planners are now adapting augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) experiences to help them source venues. With AR and VR headsets becoming more accessible and less expensive, the number of users is rising by the day. These technologies enable event planners to experience an onsite visit without having to physically travel to your location, thereby saving them time and money. They can go through all the room and layout options and design the event virtually by working with the venue manager. The experience created by VR technology gives a whole new dimension for travellers to experience well before they decide on their final venue. Offering VR tours one of the most effective ways to draw in new customers and drive more bookings. Moreover, it helps promote your brand as the customers who experience VR spread the word in their network just like brand advocates. According to Touchstone Research, 81% of people who try VR say they would tell their friends about the experience.

#5) Boost direct sales with Virtual Tours

Virtual tours give guests a chance to experience your hotel instantly, imagining their future stay whilst engaging with your key values. This is especially important during following COVID 19 shutdowns and closures, giving guests confidence to visit your hotel once the travel starts opening up again. It’s a new world for meetings and events. Planners who are sourcing want virtual visits and digital communication; they’re also interested in venues that can support hybrid events. Even as in-person events restart, there will be a new emphasis on digital assistance and online interaction.

In another PCMA survey of planners, 82% said they expect an increased need for virtual event platforms, along with virtual site visits (76%), education specific to health/safety (74%), virtual hosted-buyer events (66%), and professional services for ensuring the health and safety of meeting participants (64%).

Provide virtual visits to your venue on your website and sourcing networks. Make sure you have updated photos of past events and link to any video footage of the event space. Help planners to envision the possibilities your venue can provide for their event.

CVENT EVENT DIAGRAMMING

Hotels can drive group business while helping planners maintain social distance requirements. It starts with event diagramming and the capability to host a virtual tour or illustrate your event space parameters – with and without social distancing. It provides the transparency required by planners in a remote setting that’s perfect for communication across vendors and for building peace of mind during the restart.

  • Show that your space meets client needs: Satisfy all current safety guidelines by diagramming and updating existing layouts.
  • Make site visits virtual with three-dimensional tours that show clients how their events will look down to the last detail.

For more tips and tricks for resilience and recovery during uncertain times, read The Hotel Manager’s Guide to Marketing During Uncertain Times

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Ashima Jain

Ashima started her writing career with a startup magazine where she wrote content for all its digital channels. During her journalism days, she has contributed stories for some of the top media houses. She has over 3 years of experience in communications and public relations where she was heavily invested in writing digital content for technology brands. When she takes a break from writing, she loves dancing, listening to music and being a globetrotter.
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