While TripAdvisor still dominates the review world, some startups are trying to provide a different avenue for hotel reviews: a video review.
The video hotel review concept has been around for some time, but it hasn’t burst onto the scene—at least not at a TripAdvisor level. For instance, TVtrip, a search engine for hotels that uses videos filmed by the company’s employees to help guests make the right hotel choice, was introduced back in 2004.
The website was founded by four ex-managers of Expedia Europe and received heavy funding from venture capitalists, but it never took off.
The professional quality of these video reviews triggered a red flag in my brain. Sure, some people may want to watch a video that is professionally done, but I think guests trust other guests’ reviews much more—at least this day and age when “share” is the new buzzword. That’s why something like Hotel Confidential’s model may be resilient.
Hotel Confidential, a spin-off of Tripfilms.com, is an online video travel sharing website founded in June*, and will allow anyone to create and upload four short narrated videos (less than 90 seconds) reviewing their hotel stay from their smartphones. The videos must include separate videos for:
There are two reasons I think this venture could be successful: 1) The videos are short and 2) the video makers will be paid $25 per review. While I am praising this concept, I do realize there are obvious pitfalls of paying reviewers. How do we know a hotel won’t recruit people to take videos of the best room in the hotel—and we all know there is a “best room.” How do future guests know a video reviewer isn’t leaving out an important part of the room?
I asked Tripfilms’ Co-founder and CEO Tony Cheng these concerns about Hotel Confidential, and he assured me that “it’s hard to fake a smartphone video review.”
I can’t say I disagree with him, but the cash incentive could make potential guests uneasy about believing the review.
At this stage in the game, Cheng said Tripfilms is still fine-tuning the details and building its community of reviewers, but I think he’s onto something, especially with the rise in popularity of Twitter’s video app, Vine, a six-second video-sharing application for smartphones. Instagram also is adding videos to its application, and I’m sure more will follow.
There was one thing Tony and I both agreed on during our conversation and that is the extremely slow adoption of online video. Not just in the hospitality industry but everywhere. Since smartphones now have high-definition cameras, the possibilities are endless. But there is a gap between video watching on smartphones and tablets, and video watching on desktops.
If Hotel Confidential does this right, it could take off. But only if they keep it exclusive to smartphone and tablet users.
The world’s largest hotel company has banned on-demand porn films at its 5,000 properties, including the Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and InterContinental brands. InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is the latest global firm to scrap the service, joining Hilton and Hyatt, after being pressured by anti-pornography groups.
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