Videos are a great way to engage with potential bookers - you can really get the personality of your bed and breakfast across, as well as providing more information than a photo can.
Here are BedandBreakfastworld.com's top tips to making a great video of your B&B.
What you need:
• A camera. If you already have a video camera, great - you're probably an expert already! If not, don't worry, most digital cameras these days have a video setting and are simple to use - refer to your manual for instructions.
If you don't have a camera with a video setting and can't borrow one, don't despair! You can always take still photographs and set them in a sequence to music. Read more about taking a good photograph.
- • A tripod. Failing that, a table, chair or even a stack of books - anything that will keep your camera steady and straight. A shaky film is hard to watch - let the viewer focus on what's in the shot.
• Lights.Your shots should be well lit to make your rooms seem as bright and spacious as possible. You don't need to bring in professional lighting - just open the curtains wide, bring in any extra lamps you have and try to make sure the light is evenly distributed.
Dim lighting can be used to great effect, of course. A living room in the evening with the curtains drawn, the fire lit and a few candles and lamps dotted around will look very cosy and inviting. Experiment!
- • Editing software. If your camera has a video setting, it probably comes with editing software as well. Failing that, most computers come with a video programme already installed, e.g. Windows Movie Maker.
- • Know what you want. Why are you making a video? To attract more bookers? To offer more information? Keep your goals in the back of your mind at all times.
• Write a storyboard. Decide exactly what you want in your video and in what order. You don't have to stick to that order when filming, but it would be frustrating to start editing only to realise you forgot that all-important breakfast shot.
• Tell a story. Imagine how your guests will first view your B&B, and what might be important to them. Here's a possible arrangement:
- - Start with an exterior shot, making sure you tidy up that lawn and driveway!
- - Move into the hallway if you have one, to give a sense of your whole property's personality.
- - Show the guest what their room will look like, including a tasteful shot of the bathroom (toilet seats down, please!).
- - Include a shot of where they will be eating breakfast and give them a sneaky peek at the tempting treats on offer.
- - Show them what makes your B&B special, whether it's the pool, the bar, the central location or the stunning scenery. But don't waste too much time selling the area; they already know where they want to go - that's how they found you!
- - Interview yourself - B&Bs are all about the personal touch, so consider telling potential bookersabout yourself and why you love running a bed and breakfast.
- • Check your battery. You don't want to run out halfway through a shot and have to postpone filming while it charges.
• What can you see? Make sure everything in your shot is there for a reason. Get rid of any trailing wires, rubbish bins or anything that doesn't say comfort and luxury.
- • Keep it simple. Too much movement from the camera can be hard to watch. Keep zooms to a minimum, and if you are panning across a room, keep it slow so the viewer can stay focused.
- • Film more not less. Take about 3 times more footage than you think you'll need, so you'll have lots to choose from when it comes to editing. Leave the camera running a few seconds before and after your shot so you have more flexibility when editing.
• Keep it short. Booking accommodation can be a time-consuming process and you may not have the viewer's attention for very long. Keep it moving, keep it interesting.
If you've filmed an interview, try interspersing sections of it between sequences of images. This will break up the action and keep the viewer engaged.
- • Add a soundtrack. Cameras pick up all sorts of background noise - car alarms, coughing, static - which your customers don't need to hear. Choose a piece of music which reflects the atmosphere of your B&B - fade in and out if you want to include dialogue. Just make sure you have permission - many editing packages will come with a choice of soundtracks which you can use royalty-free.
- • Be consistent. Don't keep switching between day and night, upstairs and downstairs, inside and outside.
- • Don't go overboard! We want you to have fun, but keep distracting special effects to a minimum. Use simple cuts or fades to transition between shots.
• …be tempted to do a walkthrough of your B&B. If you walk while holding the camera, chances are it will end up shaky and like a bad home movie, rather than a professional marketing tool.
- • …be afraid to experiment and have fun! Remember you can always edit it later.
- • …delete any footage until you have your final product, and always make back ups. And most importantly, don't…
- • …rush yourself. You may well be working with equipment and software you've never used before. Give yourself plenty of time to get used to it, make mistakes and start again.
We hope you've found this guide helpful. Visit us on Twitter or Facebook to tell us what has worked for you in your B&B, or sign up to see your top B&B featured on BedandBreakfastworld.com. Stuck for inspiration? Look at some of our top B&Bs.
By: Eleanor Brown