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The Importance of Hotel Photography

 By John Giannatos

 

There is no need to be a highly professional marketer to know the importance of hotel photography. It is actually the first thing you must consider when dealing with first impressions of a property.
Studies carried out by the ROI MANAGER MODULE have shown that the photo gallery sections of a website receive an average of 97, 6% of “clicks” by visitors who book online.
In some hotels (mostly in cities,) this rate was around 78%. However, there were also cases when the rate reached as high as 100%.
Subconscious emotions are considered the second most powerful factor (after word of mouth and third party suggestions) in persuasive advertising and play a major role in influencing hotel guests in their decision process.

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(The Incredible view from Astra Suites in Santorini)

 

WHY PHOTOS ARE IMPORTANT IN ADVERTISING


Seasoned travelers search and compare hotels online before making a reservation and photos definitely create the first impression for them. Wanting a perfect holiday, they pay attention to the following points and prioritize them: The views from the room(s), the balcony or exterior areas, the lobby, the guestrooms, the restaurants, the recreational areas and finally the local attractions and excursions.
Photos of a hotel depict the style, the personal “character” and the target group of guests. Vivid imagery seizes people’s imagination and thus a professional photographer must expose the “magic” of the hotel or the precise location, with the aim of captivating its audience. At the same time, quality photographs should provide potential hotel guests with a clear picture of what they will expect prior to actually booking a reservation.

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(The Pool View of Saint John hotel in Mykonos Photo by G.Lizardos)

SHOULD HOTEL IMAGES BE OVER-EXAGGERATED?


Absolutely not! Don’t forget, that online consumers are smart buyers. The relationship between the hotel and the guest is interactive and especially nowadays with social media sites like “tripadvisor.” If we present an unrealistic visual image of the hotel and we prepare the customer for something that is misleading, then we are in danger of receiving a great deal of negative reviews on sites like we mentioned above. There is a sensible acceptable limit of exaggeration for the traveler and this should not be over the 10% of the reality. This 10% is in the logical range of acceptability and it’s considered normal for a customer.
In other words, the photos should show the 110% of the reality. If the images are bad and depict only 80% of what the hotel is like, then the hotel will have problems with bookings. Therefore, the same problems will occur in cases where the imagery depicts 180% of the reality. This is like false information being presented on packaging of a range of products in a supermarket.

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(Burj Al Arab Hotel – Dubai)

During travel and accommodation research, Internet users make a price comparison between hotels and they never visit a single hotel website. Sometimes, this price comparison is made simultaneously while opening multiple tabs in their browsers and making photos comparison too. This is not unusual for a hotel’s website; it happens also on OTAs sites like “booking.com” or “expedia.”
Photography in this case, plays a role of 60% (among others) on the decision to book. According to statistics in 2011, 75% of travelers in Europe visited 4, 7 hotel websites, before making their choice. This means that after pricing which is the main factor, photography (which is a 60% decision factor) will be compared to another 4-5 competitive hotels.

WHAT IMAGES SHOULD BE DEPICTED
Nowadays, new trends want people and models to exist in photos. This stimulates the imagination of the traveler who identifies him/herself with the models and then dreams or fantasizes of their upcoming holidays, especially when it comes to spas, weddings or honeymoon holidays.
A classic mistake regarding hotel photography, are the shots of an empty reception area where it gives people the impression that there’s no one there to greet guests or visitors or to answer any enquiries.

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(The Pleiades Earth Mountain Resort & Spa. Photo by Diem Photo)

HOW MANY HOTEL IMAGES – 4 Or 84?
According to studies on tripadvisor, travelers are 150% more engaged on listings with 20+ photos, than those with only a few photos. If a “Picture is Worth a 1000 Words” then you don’t have to deal with text anymore since an experienced photographer can use his accurate and effective imagery to convey the hotel’s message and entice travelers to book accommodation.

PHOTOS ON THE BOOKING ENGINE
According to studies on “webhotelier” which is one of the booking engines with the highest conversions on over 1200 hotels, properties with a good number of good photos have higher conversion rate than others with only a few or bad photos. In details, properties with no photos have 70% lower conversion.

NOT FORGETTING DIGITAL IMAGERY
Having great photos only on your website is not enough if other travel sites have bad or old images, thus it’s obvious that the hotel’s photos need to be kept up to date and monitored across all travel sites and OTAs.
Hotel professional photography is an investment and shows an attitude of the hotel and a self respect of the owner (or management) to their own business. If a hotelier will not respect himself by investing and promoting his business with professional photography, the customer will not want to risk his money on booking a hotel that has not got a good presentation. The customer will go to the next hotel (which on the internet is just one click away) which has more beautiful photos.

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(Photo By sandals.com)

A hotel photo gallery should provide visitors with virtual tours depicting what the hotel offers. These should combine three basic elements; the area, the property and the services. Each hotel may have a different order or priority for these three elements, but this has to do mainly with the target group of travelers and the online marketing strategy. For example, a hotel in Las Vegas will mostly promote the services, (casino, entertainment etc,) then the property (luxury, comfort) and then the area. Contrary, a hotel on Santorini will present the extraordinary scenery of the caldera view, and then the rest of the elements.

GOOD HOTEL PHOTOGRAPHY IS ESSENTIAL IF YOU WANT TO BE SUCCESSFUL.