Our first contact with luxury in hospitality today often comes in the form of compelling montages and emotive imagery, but who are the people responsible for these images (both still and moving) that showcase the best that’s on offer in the hospitality business?
We caught up with Jay Soo, Michell Tan, and Hazrul Idzwan Lamin (Haz) of Moving Bits, award-winners in LUXlife’s Hospitality Awards and content creators supreme. Invited behind the scenes, we look at what it’s like to work and live in the lap of luxury.
The power of modern media cannot be overstated, with videos and images being an essential way of differentiating a business from the rest of the crowd. Put simply, you can tell something is of quality when you see it and when you turn to the top brands, you expect everything about their marketing material to reflect the same high standards of their product or service.
Therefore, for the team at Moving Bits, their artistry comes in the communication and visual representation of stories for some of the world’s finest brands. These stories are one of luxury travel, delectable food, or a stay away in a home from home. These tales are told using every trick of the trade, deftly mixing sound and sight to inspire and connect with audiences worldwide.
The audience, of course, is people like you and me, and over the years, the Moving Bits team has been able to showcase its talents on numerous projects. They are masters of multi-media marketing, carefully collaborating with their clients to achieve their goals. Having worked in hospitality for many years, the team has been proud to work alongside renowned names such as Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Raffles Hotel & Resorts, Far East Hospitality, Millennium & Copthorne brand, and, lately, the Pan Pacific Hotels Group.
Founded in 1998, a little under a quarter of a century ago, they have gone from strength to strength as a provider of specialist services to the hospitality industry. Many agencies claim to offer the best money can buy, but Moving Bits has a proven track record of delivering on that claim. This team can not only talk the talk but also walk that talk with ease.
The agency was designed from the start to offer the critical, creative thinking of an ad agency, but with the full-time support of an in-house staff of producers and post-production teams able to bring anything that might be imagined to life. Little wonder, therefore, that the team has worked on projects ranging from ATL broadcast commercials to marketing videos and online content that has included 2D and 3D animation, including photo-realistic fly-through animation of unbuilt location-based entertainment spaces. The incredible flexibility of the team has been a crucial part of their continued success in the industry.
The real benefit to any potential client in working with this particular team is that they have total control over the development of their projects, all the way from the first pitch to the final delivery. And, when they are not able to provide a service in-house, they will happily collaborate with other experts outside their organization. Because the goal always is to put the needs of its clients first, constantly striving to give them the best and the biggest bang for their buck.
An awareness of what defines luxury has guided the team since its earliest days. Few understand this as well as Jay Soo, who has been the mastermind (together with his in-house creative team of writers and directors) behind many a project. To each, he brings an unpretentious yet artistic eye with an instinct for constantly evolving storytelling. Since bootstrapping Moving Bits 24 and a half years ago, he has grown to understand the importance of what he and his team bring to the table. “You have to be very careful if you are a luxury hotel because if you say five stars, six stars, seven stars, people have expectations – you have to be careful that the people who work on the marketing for you understand luxury and know and understand how to communicate that luxury, visually.
From the very outset of any project, the Moving Bits team takes the time to understand the detailed history of what makes that particular business tick before pitching ideas that can elevate and share unique stories with audiences worldwide. They know what they need to do to deliver to a specific standard. Jay laughed when we asked how he and his team dreamed up these original stories and ideas: “It’s extraordinary because most of the time, you want to deliver something that has not been done before!”
“So, you take whatever answer you get from research, from the client, and then you try and go off at a tangent,” Jay tells us, “but not so much of a tangent that it breaks with what has come before you, communications-wise. Also, it’s no use if our idea is original and unique but doesn’t sell the product or service. We’d be wasting our client’s time and money!” This makes clear one of the biggest challenges facing Jay and his team. “We try to be artful, but we are also salesmen!” he laughs. “There’s art involved, but at the end of the day, we’re using art to sell a product and a service.”
To keep the team on track, the team has adopted the phrase “ideas inspiring action, ” which appears across their various media platforms. “It means we try to come up with ideas that inspire the viewer (our client’s client, so to speak) to take some kind of action after watching the video,” Haz, Moving Bits’ Chief Creative Officer, explains. “If your action is, “Wow, I love this place, I think I should check it out; we’ve done our job!” This awareness of the ultimate aim of a project means that the team is always focused on finding the unique narrative that sets apart the top tier of the hospitality industry from the competition.
As the years have gone on, Jay and the Moving Bits team have had the privilege of working with many leaders in and outside of the luxury hospitality field, including Genting Skyworlds, Hong Kong Disneyland, Disney+ and TikTok to name a few. The team understands that they are not there purely to provide their artistic services but to serve their clients’ sales needs too. “Some of these companies have been around for a long time,” Michell Tan, Moving Bits’ General Manager & Executive Producer, continues, “and when we come in, we have to make sure that we fit within the given company culture, the way things are done, the way things are run, but at the same time you want to be different enough – otherwise what are you there for?”
Achieving breath-taking results is not always easy, however. While the sun will always shine in a video advertisement, the Moving Bits team must contend with the natural world’s difficulties, adapting with barely a moment’s notice. “We were on a million-dollar shoot in Orlando for Universal Studios,” Jay begins. “When I did the recce, it was all blue skies and sunshine. On the day of the shoot, hurricane weather hit. So, I had to move indoors with some of the shots I had planned to do outdoors. Fortunately, Universal Orlando has a huge backlot with green screen stages. And that’s what we did, putting in the sunshine and blue skies at the post-production stage. If we didn’t have our award-winning visual effects team, we would never have been able to pull that off. So the real lesson is that you must have solutions for things that don’t go as planned.”
Finding solutions on short notice is no easy task, but Jay, Michell, and Haz, together with their various teams, execute their projects with years of experience in hand. Experience has taught them always to get that extra shot and cover that little piece of animation before a client even asks for it. Their work is anticipatory at all times. “Being on a shoot is like capturing lightning in a bottle. Nothing is predictable, so we plan for every possible scenario. And when that unforeseen thing happens, and you can ride through it like a hot knife through butter, you can be sure that the client will remember you for all the right reasons.”
This attention to detail has saved many a shoot, earning Moving Bits a stunning reputation within the hospitality industry. “By having the set under control, orderly with people going about their work quietly – that immediately makes a favourable impression on the client. They feel it. It calms everyone. And once the client feels that you are in full control and in charge, they relax. That’s how we make it memorable for them.”
It goes without saying that when you turn to Moving Bits, you aren’t just turning to one of the industry’s finest agencies; you’re paying for a team with a wealth of experience without parallel. “We’ve been globetrotting for more than two decades now, working on all the various brands owned and operated by the principals mentioned above,” Michell explains. She feels this detailed knowledge is one of the reasons that so many trust Moving Bits to deliver. “You can’t just hire anyone to do your work, not because other people aren’t as good but because – with luxury unless you’re born into it, it takes a while to learn what is and isn’t. We didn’t start cold in luxury 25 years ago – we worked our way up,” she says before adding mischievously: “Because most of us weren’t born with a golden spoon, the curve is a little bit steep to get to the point of knowing and understanding what luxury is!”
This peek behind the scenes of how a luxury atmosphere is developed and maintained by companies such as Moving Bits shows how the world of luxury is constantly shifting and evolving. The last few years have affected the hospitality industry enormously, but the recovery speed has surprised even the most optimistic observers. Moving Bits has taken steps to ensure that they continue offering the luxury service standard their clients expect to see, as well as providing services that are more akin to a marketing agency as opposed to purely one of video production. Their knowledge and market experience make them invaluable partners to their client’s marketing teams.
Some would say that luxury speaks for itself, but Moving Bits provides a much-needed voice that can shout and amplify what you have to offer that is unique and available to your customer. For the client who knows that quality is critical, Moving Bits has always been able to provide a genuinely stunning service. Some of the biggest companies in the world have bet on this team, and Moving Bits’ track record shows how delighted these companies have been with the results. An invaluable part of the hospitality industry, we cannot wait to see what Moving Bits do next!