HOTELS Interview: Videos that make a connection

Oliphant Films produced a series of videos for The Franklin Hotel, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Oliphant Films produced a series of videos for The Franklin Hotel, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

In the September issue of HOTELS magazine, a feature will appear about the evolution of hotel videos, which today are more about making an emotional connection with potential guests as opposed to just the stereotypical panorama shots of the pool and guestrooms.

During the research of this story, HOTELS found Oliphant Films, which is focused on creating image-building videos for boutique hotels. We spoke with Founder and Creative Director Ankush Jindal about the processes and how to measure return on investment.

HOTELS: What is Oliphant Films about?

Ankush Jindal: We create story and character-based films for boutique hotels. We started in January and since then we have shot for four independent luxury hotels. We worked with them to create more experiential, story-based and character-based films, because hotels should strive to create emotional connections with their guests. The best way to do that is to tell a great story, and to have a guest connect with a character that takes them on an emotional journey throughout a hotel.

HOTELS: Why this approach as opposed to a more traditional video? Why do people want this experience with this type of communication vehicle?

Jindal: If you look at the guests that stay at all of these luxury hotels – especially the boutique properties – they are wealthy, savvy, and creative individuals who are looking for an experience. When they look at the videos they are not looking for pretty pictures of the hotel; they are looking for what their experience is going to be, what the personality is of this hotel, and why they will enjoy staying there. At Oliphant, we are all actual filmmakers and storytellers, and we want to tell the story of a hotel in a way that can help guests experience it.

HOTELS: Do these stories supplement the more traditional video, or do these replace the traditional video?

Jindal: It would replace the traditional video because what we want a hotel to do is differentiate itself from the next hotel. If your hotel has that cookie-cutter approach, or a video that is similar in style to the hotel down the street, that doesn’t help communicate what makes your hotel unique, and it doesn’t help guests differentiate your hotel from the next.

HOTELS: What are you doing to help the hotels get these videos out there so that people actually see them?

Jindal: It depends who we are targeting. Are we targeting potential guests, or are we targeting current guests to use the restaurant, spa, bar, or book outside activities?

For example, if we make a film that goes on an in-room TV, the guest is already in the hotel, so they don’t need to be sold on the room that they are in. What they do need to see is the restaurant, the bar, the spa, and the adventure packages – all of the in-house amenities – in an interesting way.

Because these are actual short films and not “videos” we can send the film out to interest groups, film festivals, music festivals, etc – engaging a much larger audience than before. You’re unable to do this with traditional videos.

HOTELS: Can you give me a range of what the costs are to produce and disseminate these films?

Jindal: We make tailor-made films, so the costs vary hotel by hotel. This can be a challenging thing, but it’s also a positive thing, because you want to work with a company who will understand your needs and address them specifically. If we were to work with a music-based boutique hotel, we’d make a music video for them, and that is a completely different film than if we were to make a 30-second commercial or a five-minute comedic film.

The major costs are the camera equipment, lighting, and talent (on-screen and off-screen). You want to show off the details and not show guests a really digital non-authentic feel. You’ve got one chance to impress viewers. Major production houses will charge at a minimum of US$20,000, but they aren’t able to scale the costs as well. They aren’t working with filmmakers who love to tell stories. This can become a huge costs for independent hotels.

A good film can range from anywhere from US$3,000 and just go up from there. For around US$10,000 you start getting into more of a high quality, emotionally driven character-based film. We’ll have a screenwriter actually create a professional script, and you can also talk about other possibilities like creating an animation, or even teaming up with a local band to make a music video – which can increase the viewership base and bring your hotel to a large audience. The possibilities are endless really.

HOTELS: How do you measure ROI, and do you have any examples based on the hotels you have already done?

Jindal: The first hotel that we worked with is called The Franklin Hotel, located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It is a hotel that is right off of the University of North Carolina campus, so it is targeted toward people who are coming to watch university sports events. The hotel accommodates them by providing a bar with TVs, but they found in the off-season not a lot of people are going to their bars, so they approached us and asked how they could get more people to come to the bars. We decided to make an in-room film that welcomes guests and displays the bar and some of the drinks. We determined in the off-season the majority of the guests are the parents of college students, so they are either coming to move-in their children or they are coming for their Christmas vacation or graduation. We decided to make an emotionally driven film that plays as soon as you turn on the TV that tells the story of a mother moving her son into the dorms, and it is a very emotionally charged film. The film draws an emotional parallel between the family’s living room at home and the home-style bar at the hotel.

Measuring ROI on videos is of course difficult. But we worked with the owner to create surveys to see if guests who traditionally wouldn’t spend time in the bar did, and if they watched the film. That really helped us measure viewer engagement.

HOTELS: How else do you suggest hotels measure return?

Jindal: We offer our clients weekly and monthly analytics from sites like Youtube, Vimeo, Google, etc. Facebook has some great insights. When you upload the film and show it off you can see how many people you have reached in that one posting and you can see how many people watched the film. From that time forward, if you notice a spike in your revenue you can attribute a percentage of that to the film.

But we really focus on the actual purpose of the film – which is to connect with potential and current guests on a personal and emotional level. Work to help hotels establish a lasting, memorable relationship with them.