How Small Hoteliers can Use Videos & Podcasting.
By Andy Hayes ~ Exclusive for 4Hoteliers.com
Saturday, 2nd January 2010
Recently we looked at how small hoteliers can Use Twitter and Facebook to boost their online profile and reinforce their Internet presence as a sales channel. 

Today we're going to review how videos and podcasting can do the same thing.

Loading videos online couldn't be easier these days – many cameras and cheap recorders produce very high quality output.  And many free websites offer the ability to launch do-it-yourself podcasts with relative ease.

Video Options

Once you've found a decent piece of recording equipment, you'll need to do any required editing on your computer.  Luckily, the free choices are perfect for anything you need to do -- iMovie (Mac) and Movie Maker (PC).  Add some music if it suits, clean up any scratchy audio, and add in a transition slide or two. 

Once you've done that you can upload it to Youtube  and then embed it into your website or anywhere you want.

Videos are great for small hoteliers.  You can use them:
  • to give a third dimension on your property (hear them say "wow, that kitchen really IS huge")
  • to show off some personality (woo them to do business with you with a story: "Hi, I'm Francesca, and I'll be welcoming you to your arrival.  I've been running this family business for the past 65 years…")
  • to explore some of the nearby attractions or cultural options (think "join us on a short walking tour of the amazing gardens nearby – a hidden gem…")

If you're not familiar with podcasting, just think of it like a radio program, but digitized.  You record "episodes" of your podcast and then upload them onto your website or blog for others to listen.  Talkshoe ( www.talkshoe.com ) and Blogtalkradio ( www.blogtalkradio.com ) are two sites to use if you don't want to record and process the audio directly. 

If you do need to edit audio files, the free open-source program Audacity has all the fancy bells and whistles but allows a novice to get their hands dirty.

Podcasts are also a great tool for small hoteliers.  These are less about direct marketing of your property and more about marketing of the destination as a whole.  You can:
  • interview staff who have interesting stories to tell – maybe someone who's lived in the area for years
  • give a guided audio tour of your favourite spots nearby
  • talk about timely events/festivals/programs going on in town
Whenever possible, don't forget to include a transcript of your recording, or at least a healthy-sized summary so folk know if there's something they're interested in.

For more coverage, be sure to load your podcast into the iTunes store (you can set it to be free) – you never know who might find it.

Amateur versus Amateurish

I'd just like to close with a quick point about the professionalism of your videos and podcasts.  There's no need for you create a Hollywood blockbuster – many of you would find it hard to recoup the amount of money it would cost to get a video "professionally" produced.

However, this isn't the time to just slap something up and hope for the best.  Remember the old saying about first impressions?  If one of the first things your customers see is this hastily made video or cheesy audio, what can they assume about staying at your accommodation?

Amateur doesn't mean it has to look amateurish.

Andy Hayes is the Managing Partner of Travel Online Partners (TOP), a company focused on helping for small businesses in travel and tourism with online technology. 

To find out more about their do-it-yourself guides, coaching and consulting, visit the website www.travelonlinepartners.com
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