Behind the screen: finding our voice in video

A few months back, we shamelessly shared our first blooper reel after an excited foray into video production. It’s been one heck of an experience and we’ve learned an awful lot along the way.

At we’re all about authenticity and the connections between individuals. So when we first committed to making video there was unanimous agreement that whatever it is we’re talking about in our videos, it should be us talking about it.

Setting up the mic and testing audio before getting started.

I was asked to be the voice of our videos. One never to turn down an opportunity (or a challenge), I was happy to take up the mantle. (To be honest I was more excited about recording impersonations, so I convinced myself this was a step in that direction.)

As fun as it’s been, we’ve been focused on continuous improvement. If you’re thinking of integrating video into your content marketing strategy (and you should), here are some major lessons to help you get started.

1. Spend time on a script…

Going into this, I was working under the assumption that we’d need some manner of script but, for the most part, we’d be winging it. It only took a single video to realize how wrong I was. We were using a script from the beginning. While we did adlib a bit, it was immediately apparent how important the script was.

This may seem like an obvious thing, but when you spend the better part of your day talking about a product, you feel confident enough you can do the same with a microphone in front of your face.

Don’t bet on it–having a polished script ensures you’re covering the important points.

2. …but don’t be afraid to deviate

As critical as the script is, if you want the video to feel authentic and convey real emotion, you’ll need to make changes on the fly. We’ll record each section of the video multiple times to make sure it feels and sounds authentic and natural. The script isn’t gospel. Instead, it’s a guide to tie together the scenes and concepts in the video.

3. Record, record, and record again

Getting a bit of feedback from Hunter on the recording.

Getting a scene right on the first try is akin to keeping a wet dog in the bathtub. Try as you might, there will be slip ups.

Or, it just may not feel right. No matter how you feel after recording a scene, the playback may change your mind. In the beginning, we recorded a scene, played it back, and recorded it again—then repeated. We wisened up and now we record each scene a few times back-to-back and then listen in succession. Doing it this way lets you compare each attempt to single out the best take. If none sound good, well… do it again!

4. Finding the right voice and tone takes time

I don’t mean to say you need to make a host of videos to find your voice and tone. Instead, I’m talking about finding the right tone for a specific video.

While recording our “Introduce your hotel to the people that matter most” video, we were about three-quarters of the way through the voice-over when we hit our stride. We wrapped up several scenes in quick succession and they felt incredible.

We went back and listened. It sounded noticeably different! The final 25% felt so right, that we took the time to re-record everything up to that point so that there was continuity. It was well worth the effort. Once we dialed it in we were able to record much more quickly too.

Hunter gives the thumbs up on the new recording.

For future videos we recorded a reading of the entire script, sometimes multiple times, to get a feel for the tone. Ultimately this saved us time, produced a better quality video, and gave the video authenticity.

5. Have fun

It’s not all business. You will definitely need to take breaks. We deviate from the script (sometimes by A LOT) because a good laugh can go a long way.

And like I said at the start, doing impersonations was what I really wanted to do in the first place. So don’t hesitate to cut loose when the urge strikes and enjoy the moment. It’s not often you get an opportunity to professionally record yourself cutting up for, you know, posterity.

Oh, and don’t think we didn’t save some of the fun stuff—listen in for yourself below!

Jumping into your own recordings? Let me know! We’re always eager to share and learn more, and collaborate along the way.

Hotels vs. OTAs: the issue isn’t what you think it is

At, we’re constantly working with people in the industry that inspire us. Here’s a special post from our own team member, originally featured on LinkedIn Pulse. Looking to collaborate? Get in touch and let’s do something amazing together.

It’s virtually impossible to read hospitality headlines nowadays without seeing at least one piece on how hotels can “take back control” from OTAs. A noble pursuit indeed but do hotels know what sort of “control” it is they’re trying to take back? I would argue the answer to that is no in most cases.

Let’s look quickly at what OTAs are designed to do and why they’re good at it. OTAs are conversion machines. They bring in massive amounts of traffic and then excel at converting that traffic into room nights, car rentals, airline tickets, etc.

They’re able to do this because they’re better at getting consumer attention than hotels are and their websites are better at selling than hotel websites are.

Expedia spent, collectively across all of its brands, nearly $3 billion on marketing in 2014. If they’re willing to put that kind of money into the marketing aethers then it’s a sure bet they’re serious about converting that traffic when it lands on their sites.

Beyond that they’ve also invested heavily in keeping those customers coming back. They’ve accomplished this through a loyalty program, long-term nurturing, and a purchasing/discovery experience that favors the user. Not one of these three things is beyond the ability of any hotel reading this.

In most cases when I read these articles about wresting control from the OTAs the focus is on share of revenue and room nights. How can hotels shift more of that into their ecosystem? The issue with this “control” narrative is that it’s focused on symptoms and not the causal factors mentioned above.

Share of attention

As a hotel, it can be overwhelming trying to compete for the fleeting attention of travelers. Never before in human history have so many sources been competing for a person’s attention. OTAs are good at this because they have scale and budget. They can be in most places the consumer cares about, but not everywhere.

For hotels this means competing in spaces where OTAs are not yet part of the equation, and via means unavailable to them. To achieve this the hotel needs to be in front of the guest before that person is even in the travel-planning mindset. It’s better to stand out early than to be part of an arbitrary sorting algorithm on a third-party website.

On top of this, social media is so underutilized by hotels it’s hard to believe it’s actually 2016. This is a low-cost platform that can drive massive value for the guest both pre- and post-stay and yet more often than not I see hotels sending people there versus collecting traffic from those sites.

Experiences designed to sell

OTAs are good at selling. They’re really, really good. That’s because they don’t really care that much about which product someone buys, just that they buy any product while they’re on their site. That’s their advantage, money notwithstanding.

Conversely, for the average independent hotel, they have a single product to offer. Sure there are different rate plans, add-ons, packages, etc. In the end though the guest can only buy that single experience. That being the case, why is it that most hotel websites feel and function like digital billboards? It’s like, “hey, you’re in my shop but here’s an ad for my shop anyway.”

Bulleted amenity lists, professional photos of rooms, and canned descriptions of the product abound. It’s incumbent upon the hotel to nurture that visitor down the path to becoming a guest. Hotels can provide insight into the experience the guest can expect unlike any OTA possibly can.

Remember, the OTA is putting piles of hotels in front of the consumer. That person is there for options.

When a potential guest lands on a hotel’s website something has already grabbed her attention and she’s interested. Give her something worth her time, not a product spec sheet.

And on the subject of time, the importance of design cannot be overstated. Imagine if, instead of feeling like work, learning about a hotel was an experience in and of itself. An experience that’s just a taste of what the guest can expect during a stay.

That’s the sort of “control” that wins the day. Winning more share of attention and designing experiences that convert will ensure more business comes direct. But it has to be earned, not taken back.

Travel Trends that Matter: Insight from and GCommerce

At HITEC we collaborated with Google and GCommerce to discuss up-and-coming travel marketing trends. Hosted at La Louisiane of New Orleans Hotel Collection French Quarter fame, it was an incredible opportunity to share what’s driving hospitality today. Guest experience, content marketing and personalization were the topics at hand. Explore more below from Chris Jackson, GCommerce President & Partner, and myself. Enjoy!

GCommerce & at HITEC
Richard Dunbar and Chris Jackson give their presentations on emerging travel marketing trends.

Travel Trends that Matter By Richard Dunbar, Director of Partnerships

Hotels are facing a set of competing interests in the market that enjoy the benefits of large budgets, ability to scale, and share of consumers’ attention. These competing interests have invested heavily in designing user experiences that keep consumers engaged throughout the planning process, ultimately converting more business.

OTAs and sharing sites such as AirBnB are spending massive amounts of money to capture and retain share of attention, driving interested shoppers into compelling experiences that are designed to convert.

To combat this, it’s imperative that hotels focus their efforts to be in the places where OTAs and sharing sites are not strong. These are the low-cost, high-reach channels where hotels have a competitive advantage. The tools of that game are:

  • Guest advocacy
  • Nurturing past guests
  • Content marketing

Content marketing uses a hotel’s intimate knowledge of the destination but combined with guest advocacy it can be massively amplified. Content can be crowdsourced, and the potential exposure can be exponentially magnified.

This also helps to address the precipitous decline in organic reach via social channels like Facebook. User-generated content, shared by the user, means hotels are able to reach an audience far beyond the typical means.

Combined, these strategies ensure hotels can reach and inspire guests at the right time and in the right way. Aspiration and experience are the key competitive advantages in today’s market.

Hospitality marketing trends that matter by Chris Jackson, GCommerce President & Partner

Rising Cost per Acquisition

Phenomenal growth won’t hide your rising cost per acquisition (CPA) any longer, so it is critical to understand and manage your CPA. How can you combat a rising CPA? Adjust your KPIs and the way you measure them:

  • Measure holistically
  • Measure on an attribution model
  • Measure from an online & offline perspective
  • Evaluate your data to see what works and what does not
  • Regain control of your inventory and pricing
  • Understand and determine your appropriate media mix

Predictive Analytics

Accurately predict customer behavior and buying patterns, and as a result, predict demand through Predictive Analytics.

Collective and shared data is far more powerful and useful than a single data report on a single hotel. Consider who you can partner with – airlines, golf clubs, spas, retail providers and your local tourism marketing board are all contenders.


Connect with your audience! Focus less on selling your product and focus more on telling a story – sell the experience.


Billions of times per day, consumers turn to their search engine browser on their phone for “I want to know”, “I want to go”, “I want to do”, and “I want to buy” moments. Be prepared and targeted in your marketing efforts for when your product is presented during a micro-moment.

GCommerce is a digital marketing agency that works closely with hotel, resort, casino and restaurant clients to develop everything from website design to social media campaigns. Be sure to visit their site to learn more about their services and explore their work.

Stories that inspire: our favorite guest moments from June

Every guest story is an opportunity for a hotel to unveil something new. Stories reach & inspire—they’re truly memorable, sometimes magical, and a lot of times, a bit of fun.

In a way, we’ve fallen in love with guest stories, and every day see firsthand the impact they’re making for hotels. That’s why we’re sharing them with you! Check out a handful of our recent favorites below:

Shores Resort—Top June 2016

The Shores Resort and Spa — Daytona Beach Shores, Florida

“The best part of my experience was that my entire family came up to stay at The Shores for my graduation and all the staff was very accommodating.” – Allan C.

Show some love

Allan put The Shores at the center of a special moment that was shared with like-minded travelers worldwide.

SeaVenture—Top June 2016

SeaVenture Pismo Beach Hotel — Pismo Beach, California

“I proposed to my fiancé on the beach while staying at Sea Venture.” – Doug K.

Relive special moments
Doug shared this special moment with 290 of his friends and family, leading to 71 unique site visits and 13 warm leads for SeaVenture Pismo Beach Hotel.

SeaVenture Pismo Beach Hotel’s current photo contest has topped 100 thousand friends and family reached and 1,200 warm leads.

Barefoot Cay—Top June 2016

Barefoot Cay Resort — Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

“We loved the solitude! Every aspect of our stay was wonderful.” – Duane & Sharron P.

Take it slow

This tiny island resort in Roatan, Honduras just put its foot on the map thanks to their guests–building an incredible library of curated content along the way.

Marys Lake—Top June 2016

Marys Lake Lodge Mountain Resort — Estes Park, Colorado

“Great service from your staff. Beautiful views from the property” – John H.

Take a stroll

John shared a favorite moment to 228 friends and family, converting 22 of those reached into warm leads. Guests at Mary Lake Lodge Mountain Resort already introduced over 6,000 friends and family to the property since going live in May.

Bass Lake—Top June 2016

The Pines Resort — Bass Lake, California

“Beautiful Chalet overlooking the water….can’t beat it! Staff was great, restaurant was amazing and the view was extraordinary! Plenty of room for the whole family. Loved our stay!” – Lauri R.

Hold on tight

Lauri shared her view from a day on the lake, bringing the incredible experience and activities at Bass Lake to life!

Hotel Zephyr—Top June 2016

Hotel Zephyr — San Francisco, California

“We visited the Sea Lions every day and night during our stay. It was great to hear them each morning as soon as we opened our balcony door.” – Arthur P.

Explore Fisherman’s Wharf

Arthur currently sits at the top of Hotel Zephyr’s current contest. He shared to 519 friends 9 times so far, with 28 of his friends sharing on as well. This has driven 274 unique site visitors and 31 warm leads (and the contest is only half-way through!)

Tahoe Resort—Top June 2016

Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel — South Lake Tahoe, California

“Great bang for the buck! Open, clean environment with curious staff.” – Tsewang L.

Sit in the sand

Tsewang is just one of the 27 finalist in Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel’s first photo contest. So far, Tsewang and her fellow guests shared their stories to over 30 thousand friends and family, leading to 483 warm leads in just 3 months.

VIsta Cay—Top June 2016

Vista Cay Resort by Millenium — Orlando, Florida

“The amazing Discovery Cove a must do for an Orlando visit.” – Jennifer D.

Experience Vista Cay

Jennifer’s story gives future guests a candid travel tip and also taps into the experience of the visit.

Grand View Lodge—Top June 2016

Grand View Lodge — Nisswa, Minnesota

“Beautiful sunset on our last night” – Daniel G.


Ann Marie shared her story to 524 friends & family, leading to 171 unique site visits and 17 warm leads. Together, Daniel and fellow guests have introduced Grand View Lodge to over 19 thousands friends and family in less than a month.

Check back next month for even more. See any stories that stand out? Let us know!

Adventure back to May’s stories