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Online Rich Content Is an Important Branding Asset as
Well as a Compelling Marketing Tool for Hotel
Franchisees to Drive Revenues Through All
Online Channels, Both Direct and Indirect
January 2004 - The importance of the Internet as a hotel research and discovery channel is often understated.  Indeed, while the average hotel today generates 10-20% of its bookings online, we often fail to focus on the fact that 50% of all people who research hotel accommodation online actually book offline.  Accordingly, between 20-40% of a hotelís bookings are actually directly and indirectly generated as a result of a hotelís Internet presence.

Online Rich Content, such as hotel videos, 360 degree virtual tours, and other multi-media presentations, have proven to have a direct impact on the buying decision of consumers. Compelling online content is one of the quickest ways of establishing a direct relationship with the online consumer and to draw that consumer to book at your hotel. In a crowded and noisy Internet world, Online Rich Content helps a hotel stand out.  It draws the consumerís attention to the hotelís unique value and sells the hotel on its special features, not on price.  Most importantly, Online Rich Content tremendously increases the consumers comfort level and trust about your hotel offering thereby increasing the likelihood that they will ultimately book with you.

In recognition of this fact, the majority of hospitality companies have taken steps to improve their online presence with compelling rich content, including Carlson Hospitality, Starwood, Intercontinental, and Marriott, just to name a few. Online Rich Content, distributed to all online channels, namely the brand site, the hotel's own web site, and third-party travel sites, not only improves the online consumerís experience but can also greatly improve the brand consistency as well. 

Brand identification can become more diluted through the indirect online distribution channels. In most cases, the franchisee contracts directly with the various third-party travel web sites to further market their hotel online. In some instances, the hotel may even maintain their own web site as well. Online Rich Content is a valuable marketing tool that can effectively maintain the brand identity across all of these channels, both direct and indirect, while still allowing the individual property to highlight their own unique hotel and destination features. A consumer researching hotel accommodation on any of the travel sites could be presented with a compelling video that highlights both the hotel and brand identity. 

Case in point is Carlson Hospitality. Carlson, a true believer in providing rich content online, together with VFM Interactive Inc. have developed a "bookend" video for their Country Inns and Suites Brand.  The video maintains the core of the brand identity but allows the property the capability of elaborating upon the key benefits and features of their own property and destination. In Country Inn's example, common brand features are presented in full-motion video with property-specific features portrayed in the introduction and conclusion. The result is the representation of a consistent brand image across all online channels and the ability for franchisees to differentiate their own online offering.

Also for their Radisson brand, Carlson has designed their online video to further promote their branded "Stay Your Own Way" campaign.  Each property has their own individual property video but with video clips that adhere to a standard, consistent brand identified format. Within this video the features of the property and destination are highlighted along with the brand identification. The results have been impressive. A study conducted by Carlson showed that Radisson hotels that feature these videos on Radisson.com alone are averaging 52% more online revenues than those that do not. When you also consider the increased  revenue from third party websites resulting from having the video shown on those sites and the increased revenues generated offline from consumers who researched the hotels online, the results for these properties have been truly phenomenal. 

Many key hospitality companies recognizing the returns of online rich content are using this methodology to further their brand image and deliver direct sales support to their franchisees. These companies are positioning themselves to improve the distribution of their brand image with interactive media on all channels, not just at the brand site. Rich content continues to be the best way to build a direct consumer relationship online and rich content that differentiates the hotel property yet promotes the brand image is truly a win/win situation for all, namely the online consumer, the hotel and the brand itself.

About VFM Interactive Inc. 

VFM Interactive partners with hotels to dramatically improve their online sales.  VFM unlocks the full value of online marketing by creating and distributing vibrant, rich media ( including videos, 360 "virtual tour" images, photographs and other audio-visual presentations) across the internet, including to their distribution partners consisting of over 5000 travel websites and affiliates such as Travelocity and Orbitz. 

Click here to see one of VFM Interactive's hotel videos. 

For more information, please visit www.vfmii.com

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Contact:
Shelly Edwards
Director of New Business Development
VFM Interactive Inc.
1-877-593-6634 Ext. 230
shelly.edwards@vfmii.com
www.vfmii.com
Also See: Rich Content Such as Internet Videos, Virtual Tours and Flash Presentations Significantly Impact the Buying Decision of Consumers Researching and Booking Hotels Online / December 2003


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