Expansive golden beaches, stunning interior design, and exotic cuisine under a canopy of stars are all part of a day’s work for David Beasley. An award-winning film director and broadcast producer, David has worked with many of the world’s finest hotels, resorts, and travel destinations during his 31-year career. VIP Worldwide is the leading video and virtual reality production company for luxury hotels and resorts. Now proudly part of the Journey fold, they use state-of-the-art 4K cinematography technology and digital storytelling techniques to engage and influence viewers, leading to an increase in bookings and revenue for hoteliers.
We took some time out with David for a coffee and to chat about his career, and asked him to tell us more about the great benefits that video content can bring to a hotel’s marketing strategy.
Q: What's your role at Journey?
Coming on board as part of the Journey offering is a very exciting move for us. I’ve been the CEO and founder of VIP Worldwide since its conception over 11 years ago and this uniting of minds marks the beginning of the next stage of our journey, excuse the pun. As experts in the field, we help the luxury hospitality industry to elevate the visibility of their properties, and ultimately achieve increased booking revenue through the use of high-end film, social media and 360 virtual reality. We are now proud to work with hundreds of properties across the globe and have offices in New York, Antigua, Paris and here in the UK. Combined with Journey’s commercial expertise and fully integrated suite of marketing services and products, collectively we are able to respond to all of our client's needs in one incredibly experienced and knowledgeable agency.
My personal day-to-day role involves guiding the business as we seek new opportunities for growth, providing expert comment for hospitality publications as well as nurturing the very best talent around that forms the workforce at VIP.
Q: What would you say your unique specialist skill is?
I think I have a natural tenacity towards the hospitality sector. For me, it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle. We’re constantly looking at ways to improve what we do and add value for our clients.
What’s more, I’m able to spot talent from an early age. The majority of our team have been with us for a very long time (for some it was their first job after leaving school) and after many years we’ve supported them as they propel their careers.
Plus, I think I’m naturally a very good people person. It’s unusual for me to go anywhere in the world and not bump into somebody I know! I’ve just come back from the Caribbean and I bumped into at least five or six people that I’ve met in various places around the world. Even a taxi driver remembered me from when we're doing a job in the Barbados tourism authority!
Q: What are the benefits of integrating film content into a hotel marketing strategy?
In the luxury hotel market, you want to be able to see more from the product than just a couple of photographs. With our VR360 videos we allow guests to virtually walk right into that room and see housekeeping fluffing up a pillow or the butler preparing a cocktail.
"Ultimately, we want to empower guests to make a better, more honest and authentic choice during their booking journey. Film content immediately allows potential visitors to fully immerse themselves in the type of room, suite, or villa that they will be arriving to. With our video production techniques, we always avoid the ‘hard sell’ and encourage viewers to make up their own mind."
The use of video in the customer journey also has a positive impact on the room upgrade path by making the additional benefits of a higher grade suite obvious and tangible. Guests are able to gain a greater level of confidence in their purchasing decisions from a sophisticated "try before you buy" model. Of course, the other great benefit of integrating film content is that, unlike an advert on TV, it’s much more shareable and therefore the potential for exposure and audience reach for a brand is enormous.
Ultimately, we want to empower guests to make a better, more honest and authentic choice during their booking journey.David Beasley | CEO & Managing Director of VIP Worldwide
Q: ‘Storytelling’ is a buzz word in marketing and branding at the moment - what does it mean to you and how do you use video and content creation to support this?
We use sophisticated POV (point of view) techniques to position the viewer in the driver's seat and allow them to see things in an immersive way. Atmospheric sounds, visuals, voice-overs and using real staff members on site all contribute to selling the property in a unique way.
We often say that storytelling is not just about creating a chronological piece of work. In the film, for example, there is no need to show the arrival and check-in first So wherever possible, we try to steer our clients away from this cliche and focus on selling that dream. On a tropical island, for example, its the beach, guest excursions, exclusive experiences, F&B and Spa and wellness activities.
Q: How easy is to keep coming up with fresh concepts for film production?
It’s simple - when we make a film, we always ask ourselves: “what do you want people to do and how do you want them to feel once they’ve watched it?” We conduct a lot of audience profiling behind the scenes, and this helps define the end goal. The concept then naturally starts to fall into place.
We own all of our own equipment and so we can really tailor our films to the needs of our clients. We were also early adopters of drone footage ten years ago - people went absolutely nuts for it at first! But a flying tripod alone won’t distil the personality of the property (there are some terrible examples of drone footage out there) so we work hard to delve much further to communicate the personality of the property.
Q: What are the benefits of integrating VR into your video content?
Virtual reality, or 360 film production, is still relatively new to the market. We now have the technology to include ‘book now’ and “book direct’ only amenities within the video content: a free spa treatment, Champagne on arrival, airport transfers included etc, and we can track these conversions too. So not only are we capturing the viewer by showcasing the property to them in an amazing way, but we’ve immediately presented the benefits of booking directly within the content.
Q: What inspires you to come to work each day?
It sounds like a cliché, but no two days are ever the same! It also helps that the team that I work with are a huge inspiration. We’re constantly striving to improve and find new, relevant ways of doing things. We’ll often communicate new ideas to each other at midnight. To be surrounded by that level of energy and passion every day is very inspiring.
Q: What is the last destination you visited?
I most recently spent 10 days on location in the Caribbean. I directed three, 360 cinematography projects back to back: two in Barbados, and one in Grenada. The crew and I used state-of-the-art multiple-synchronised ultra HD cameras, and the film production involved a fully immersive promotional 360 film for each luxury property. Added to this is each room/suite category being brought to life in 360. They will be integrated with our new ‘ShowRoom’ platform which will allow potential guests who visit the properties’ website to virtually visit each accommodation on offer, helping them to make an informed choice.
Q: What destinations are at the top of your bucket list to visit?
To be honest, I don’t have a bucket list anymore! I’ve been very fortunate over the past 30 years to have visited some amazing countries; many of these would not have been on my list before.
One thing I’ve realised is that being based in the UK, we tend to think that the further we travel, the more exotic the location will be. But a couple of years ago we were working in Mallorca and 90% of the location was completely off the beaten track, and I just thought how beautiful it was. We are really very lucky to have places like this on our doorstep.
Q: What three people would you invite to your fantasy dinner party, dead or alive?
John Lennon - he’s always been a bit of a hero of mine, I’m a big Beatles fan and he is definitely the quirkiest. Elvis Presley (as long as he didn’t eat everything) would be quite fun. Music is a big part of my life, so the last person would be David Bowie, constantly evolving and challenging the norms.
Q: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve eaten on your travels?
I’ve eaten so many unusual things over the years, from sea anemone, scorpion to shark. But the weirdest dish I’ve ever sampled is probably snake porridge in the Far East. It tasted… well, exactly how it sounds!