Video marketing system that knows what customers want

A SMALL village in East Yorkshire may not seem the most obvious base for a firm specialising in video production and marketing for luxury hotels around the world.

But Newport is exactly where you can find David Beasley's innovative business VIP Plus, which was launched only a few months ago but is already expecting an exciting future.

It produces high-definition videos to advertise different elements of luxury hotels and has a complex analysis system to follow clients' online behaviour and target offers at them.

VIP Plus, which officially launched in September, had a successful trial period with a hotel that saw a 74 per cent rise in 2009 Christmas bookings on 2008 when using its system.

Mr Beasley, 46, CEO of VIP Plus, said: "We aim ourselves at the luxury tourism industry. We enable the customer to have a better understanding of a company.

"We are building up a relationship, trying to get under the skin of what customers actually want and breaking it up into a number of categories. Our videos are the length they need to be – we didn't want to make them formulaic or monotone.

"If you're a golfer you don't want to wade through minutes of videos about the kids' club. If the hotel has got a golf tournament coming up, our system can tell it which customers have looked at golf videos on the site in the last year."

Mr Beasley's big idea came when he went to the Caribbean in April 2008 with Classlane Media – a broadcast production business that he has run for 20 years – after being commissioned to produce a video of a luxury hotel on Canouan Island in the Grenadines.

He noticed the hotel was far from full and a marketing manager told him this was because they found it "difficult to get the message out there" about the resort.

Mr Beasley later spoke to Paul Gorry, a web developer who told him about a concept in female fashion where if a woman looked at the same pair of shoes on a website twice in a few days, she would be sent a tailor-made offer for the product within 24 hours.

The two are now business partners. It took 18 months from January 2009 to develop the company's online behaviour analytics programme – and they have been tweaking it since.

The team has developed a system which sits within a hotel's website and has a number of separate videos for different rooms, activities and unique selling points of a resort.

It was tested live in 2009 with the same hotel in the Grenadines that Mr Beasley visited in 2008, which saw a 74 per cent annual increase in Christmas bookings.

There are now 15 people working for VIP Plus and there is much experience of hotel marketing in the team. VIP Plus has offices in East Yorkshire, London and New York – but all the production happens in northern England and all the film crews and editors are based in Yorkshire.

Mr Beasley, who has lived in Yorkshire for 25 years, spends half of his time in Newport and the rest in London or abroad.

VIP Plus received recognition for its work earlier this month, after being crowned travel entrepreneur of the year at the Digital Entrepreneur of the Year awards.

Mr Beasley added: "Everything has an individual movie as if we were being commissioned to do an individual film for each individual room or activity.

"If everyone in your office was to look at one hotel, you would all have a different navigation path. The system would give you a profile based on what you've looked at and an offer would hit all of your tick points as it knows you."

One regular industry method for hotel promotion is to invite top travel agents from around the world to stay and let them sample all the facilities in a "fam trip" for familiarisation.

The idea is that they then go back to their agent offices and promote the hotel, as they trust the services provided and will be more likely to recommend it to a big-spending client.

But the novel marketing methods of Mr Beasley's firm create customer profiles and help hotels understand exactly what their clients want.

It also has a familiar face to front its website's introductory videos in TV presenter Julia Bradbury.

"The five-year plan would be to float the business," Mr Beasley said. "Next year is absolutely critical to us. With the economic climate as it is, hotels are crying out for something that will work to help improve their revenue."

VIP plus's individual approach

VIP Plus is a company that provides video production and online behaviour analysis for various luxury tourism venues – but mostly hotels.

It helps hotels establish what their clients are interested in and allows them to tailor-make a package with every feature that visitors would require.

Behind the visual front of the system is a complex and sophisticated process that records their every movement and action, which is collated onto a database.

This information is then analysed using algorithms and the system reports back to the hotel with customer profiles.

For example, a client who spent time looking at videos of its golf course could be targeted with a relevant offer.