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How one hotel brand is using video to entice guests

How one hotel brand is using video to entice guestsWhen you travel to a new place, do you look at pictures of your hotel? Do you try and see all that you can about the place you’ll be staying? I know I do. I look at every photo to get a sense of how the hotel will feel when I get there. It’s quite important to me what sort of attractions are nearby, and if the hotel has any options or programs to help me enjoy them.

Most hotels offer good pictures these days, but few of them are using video. There’s one hotel brand, Renaissance Hotel, that’s started using video in a unique way. It doesn’t involve video reviews, ads, or any traditional marketing.

Doing the unexpected

Renaissance Hotel, a brand of Marriot International, prides itself on the experience guests have at their hotels. To showcase that aspect of their business, they created an original video series called “The Navigator’s Table”. They partnered with Andrew Zimmern, who hosts Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods TV show, for the six-part series.

According to the Marriot website, the six episodes illustrate “the brand’s commitment to providing business unusual experiences that appeal to its culturally curious guests, inspiring them to seek intriguing evenings at Renaissance Hotels around the world”.

Granted, original content is all the rage today (think Netflix’s House of Cards, or Amazon’s Transparent). But who would have expected a hotel to join the fray?

What it’s all about

Zimmern is well known for breaking the mould, going strange places, and eating unimaginable food. In the series trailer, they make it clear that his adventure with Renaissance Hotels will be just as unexpected. Watch the video below to see for yourself.

In the episodes that follow he travels to three American cities, for two episodes each. They are only four to five minutes long, and focus on “unscripted” discussion between Zimmern and his dinner guests at the hotel. He designs an unusual dinner menu and the guests share their favourite places to go to in the local area.

While that might sound like a shorter version of his TV show, it all revolves around the hotel in both the imagery and scripted parts of Zimmern’s introductions and closing dialog. For the series, he has become a Renaissance Navigator – the title given to the hotel’s lifestyle concierge.

He tries to demonstrate that if you visit this brand of hotel, you’ll find Navigators there who can help you find anything you want to do in the area. The best places to eat, where to go to have fun, interesting places to explore – anything you want to make your business trip more exciting.

Overall, I think the series does a good job of showing how culturally aware their Navigators are, without beating you over the head with it.

They could do more

If you find the video on their website, you’ll notice they have images of other Navigators from various locations around the world. Each one has a page dedicated to them with their story and why they are able to help guests at their location find amazing places and things to do.

After watching the original Navigator Series, I expected to see video of each Navigator too. But there are only a few images, and a lot of text. The text is compelling and personal, but why wouldn’t they let the Navigators speak for themselves in video?

Also, while their website is certainly more visual than most hotel sites I’ve visited, they still aren’t using video. They have a “More about your hotel” section with two lovely pictures (I checked several locations around the world and they all follow the same format). I’d love to see a 360 video as well. Let me look around the lobby, a standard room or the best nearby locations, as they claim to know in the navigator series (and at every hotel).

I may be asking for too much too fast. They certainly did something unexpected with their original series, but their future guests might care more about videos that help them see the location. Perhaps they have plans to add that in the future.

If you watched any of the series before or while reading this blog, has it enticed you to possibly stay at a Renaissance Hotel the next time you travel?

Oliver Burt

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