In a fit of stops and starts across six or seven minutes, bedhead is transformed into bouncy curls, a naked face is contoured and highlighted, and the #OOTD is assembled and accessorized. All the while, the viewer is entertained, informed, and attentive. This is the most common formula for a GRWM (Get Ready With Me) video; the content creator records themselves dressed and styled for the day with the intent of displaying their OOTD (outfit of the day), showcasing their makeup skills, or keeping the viewer engaged while they tell a lengthy story. GRMW videos accumulate millions of views each day on TikTok.

How can hoteliers use the formula of "get ready with me" videos and other TikTok trends to get the same level of attention while telling their brand story? The connection between cosmetic products and GRWM posts is obvious, but there are some strong corollaries for hotel and travel brands that can be used in brand-created TikTok posts.

The Power of Tiktok

First, the strength of TikTok's global presence, found across 154 countries, can not be ignored, even by industries that don't fit neatly in GRWM videos. Its users trend younger than other social media platforms with more than 60% of its viewers younger than 30. TikTok users spend an average of 95 minutes a day on the app across an average of 8 sessions per day. The engagement on TikTok outpaces other platforms ; TikTok's FYP pushes out posts by brands and their influencers to a broad audience. Users expect to interact with a multitude of accounts on their FYP (For You Page) and not just the accounts they've chosen to follow. This is a different experience than that curated by the algorithms of other social media platforms like Instagram where organic brand posts will only be seen by a fraction of a brand's followers.

(At the time of writing, the U.S. government is threatening a ban on TikTok if the parent company, ByteDance, doesn't divest or sell. While that makes the future of TikTok in the U.S. uncertain, the style of videos from TikTok have migrated to Instagram, so any advice based on TikTok trends would still be applicable in a future where TikTok is removed from the social media landscape in the U.S.)

Authenticity, a Benefit of GRWM Videos

Get ready with me videos are ubiquitous on TikTok (and on Instagram as most TikTok videos make their way to the 'Gram eventually), and, at first exposure, the video style seems unlikely to be so popular. After all, a platform ripe with filters in a medium known for showing only the highlights of our lives and not the messy middles seems like the last place to showcase ratty hair and schlubby pajamas. But, GRWM videos provide two benefits that viewers of social media videos seem to crave--authenticity and movement.

That first benefit, authenticity, comes with some risks for hotel brands. On social media, authenticity is seen as a match between who you are and what you post. Do the actions your brand takes on a daily basis in customer service, labor and employment relations, or sustainability practices complement the facets of your brand you showcase online? If it's a close fit, your social media presence is an authentic portrayal of the brand your customers, employees, and community neighbors personally interact with. It's easy to understand why authenticity in brand promotions is appealing. Customers and clients get a chance to see what their own experiences with a brand would likely be like instead of seeing the very best an experience COULD be, but often isn't. Authenticity favors probability over aspirational possibility.

That distinction is a major change from the photo and video styles of legacy media like magazines and television. After decades of high-gloss, airbrushed appearances designed to match consumers' perceptions and aspirations, it's easy to understand why brands are reluctant to show the messy middle of their business practices. There's an emotional rawness to authenticity as we all, individuals and brands, struggle with the vulnerability that comes from showing our mistakes or our unfiltered appearances. What hotel is brave enough to show how the rooftop bar looks before the clearing crew sets it to rights after a hot night during Spring Break? Especially when a competing property is only posting pristine drone shots of their rooftop--no spills or broken glass in sight.

GRWM videos seem to offer some balance between harsh reality and complete vulnerability. Even if the content creator is messy at the start of a GRWM, the end product is polished. This seems like a valuable lesson for brands; consumers appreciate a process and progress toward a goal. Authenticity may require exposing some flaws, but the process of addressing issues is more valuable than pretending nothing ever goes wrong. After all, most consumers report a willingness to remain loyal to a brand if any problems are satisfactorily resolved. Less than 20% of consumers are willing to give a brand a second chance if there is no service recovery. Demonstrating progress and addressing how problems will be avoided in the future saves a customer relationship through vulnerability and authenticity.

Hotel-Specific GRWMs Possibilities

For hoteliers, there are a host of options for location-specific GRWMs. Day-to-day operations like kitchen and bar prep can be shown to demonstrate the care and effort that goes into serving meals or mixing drinks. The vulnerability of showing mid-process food preparation is resolved by the end of a video with shots of well-plated meals delivered by wait staff encouraging the viewer to make a dining reservation. The authenticity of the less-than-glamorous scenes of preparing drink garnishes and changing beer kegs ends with a recipe for a specialty cocktail and an invitation from a bartender for the viewer to stop in with friends to taste the drink for themselves.

Set-ups for specialty events like fundraisers or weddings can be shown in multiple-part GRWMs that allow the hotel to showcase specific spaces, luxury add-ons, and talented staff. Granting the viewer permission to see the beginning, parts of the messy middle, and the polished end is a flex for the hotel staff who impress the viewer with how routinely the staff turns raw materials into an amazing guest experience. Comparatively, the legacy media approach of showing only static, aspirational, pristine images removes the magic and vulnerability of a dynamic transformation and fails to engage the viewer.

Movement, Another Benefit of GRWMs

The second benefit of GRMW videos, movement, is also present in other TikTok trends--recording while walking or in a moving vehicle. For all three types of posts--GRWM, walking and talking, and in-the-car videos, the movement of the content creator is engaging. The focus required by the viewer to keep track of the changing environment of the speaker makes it difficult to tune out from the video and scroll on.

In GRWM videos, the movement of applying make-up or styling hair provides a dynamic visual image for the viewer while they listen to the content creator share a story. The creator becomes more than just a talking head on a screen, and the experience is more visually engaging for the viewer. GRWM videos offer more than just exposition; the viewer is implicitly invited to observe technique and compare it to their own. That engaging visual helps keep viewers tuned into the video longer, and that's an important lesson for hoteliers who want to show off their properties or event venues that is echoed in the walking and talking and in-the-car videos.

Beyond GRWMs--other Tiktok Trends to Consider

Walk and talk videos often start the same. The content creator invites the viewer along while the creator walks their dog, takes a package to the mailbox, or leaves the office building for the day. Along the way, the creator tells the viewer a story or asks for validation from the viewer. Walk and talk videos are POV (point of view) videos that help a viewer get quick slices of the details of the content creator's surroundings. They are invitations to tiny glimpses of the life of the content creator.

These videos can also resemble a "walking meeting" between colleagues or coworkers. Because we often unconsciously mirror the actions of the people we spend time with, watching a video of someone taking a walk can make the viewer feel, physically, like they are also walking. (Most of us can think of long meetings where yawns become contagious and participants begin to unintentionally mimic each other's postures; those are mirrored actions.) Mirrored actions build connections and trust. Through that connection and trust, a housekeeping manager's walk across a hotel property to check on room turnover becomes the viewer's walk, too. The pride that the manager takes in the hard work of their staff becomes the viewer's pride as well. Walking meetings have been shown to improve creativity and increase the relaxation of the people in the meeting, so if that same result can be passed on to the viewer, they are then peacefully taking in the views shared along the way.

Property views can also be shared in in-the car videos. While some of this type of post is recorded by passengers in moving vehicles, a fair number are recorded in stationary vehicles. (In busy households, sitting alone in the car may be the one quiet place to record and the one quiet place for the viewer to scroll through TikTok.) For hotel brands, the in-the-car video trends can be transposed to the hotel shuttles and the golf carts used by bell services, grounds crews, and housekeeping. While the impact of mirrored actions generated by a walking meeting is unlikely to be realized from an in-the-car video, the benefit of movement--visual engagement of changing surroundings-- are definitely realized from videos recorded in moving vehicles.

Hotel-Specific Walk & Talk Possibilities

Hotels in historic locations are the perfect subjects for walk and talk videos. A front desk clerk takes a walk to relay a message to bell services and stops to point out their favorite historic feature along the way. This combines the benefits of the walking meeting with the beautiful architecture of the property. A housekeeper walks their cart back to its storage location and mentions the historical figure who is reported to have stayed in one of the suites. This video is an invitation to see a slice of the details of the staff member's day and to see the interior of a suite.

For more contemporary properties where the main feature is proximity to the airport or a major tourist attraction, an in-the-car video shot in the hotel shuttle could show a timed, time lapse video of the drive. This video has the engagement of movement plus assures the viewer of the convenience of the location.

Hotel properties that boast beach access or beautiful gardens are a great location for a stationary in-the-golf cart videos. A member of the grounds crew explains they are putting away beach chairs for the evening while the camera records the beach view at sunset. This video shows the authentic work of a staff member while the viewer is transfixed by the setting.

Final Thoughts

GRWMs, walk and talks, and in-the-car videos are all great ways for hoteliers to showcase their property and staff strengths through authenticity and movement. These trends of TikTok already keep social media viewers entertained, informed, and attentive, and that same level of attention can be earned by hotel brands. Some hotel brands might be leery of the implied risk authenticity seems to carry. Smart hoteliers will trust the valuable lessons of service recovery they've gained over time to create video content that shows the brand's posts match who they are everyday.

By Carrie Trimble Associate Professor of Marketing, Millikin University