Photography plays a vital role in a hotel's online marketing strategy. Having powerful imagery is an excellent start to converting lookers into bookers. Because of ongoing technology enhancements, high-res imagery as the new industry standard. With the invasion of social media, hoteliers must seriously consider the effectiveness of their current hotel photography and, if needed, take action.
Technology is constantly evolving
A Tnooz article discussed some changes in technology and their looming effects on a hotel's imagery. As guests are researching and booking travel from a plethora of devices, photography used on a hotel's website must reflect the current technology. That means high-resolution photos or larger image sizes. Hotels should be transparent and not publish digitally-enhanced images that could result in unhappy guests come check-in time. It's also essential to include photos on a gallery page directly on the hotel's website, with the ability to zoom in on any desired picture. Hotel marketers should put themselves in the shoes of potential guests. What kinds of images would someone booking travel want to see, how would they want the photos to be displayed, and where?
Professional photography is essential for your marketing materials
Hiring a professional hotel photographer is likely less work than most hoteliers think. I recently spoke with hotel photographer, Jeremy Mason McGraw, of Global Image Creation, who detailed the process of photographing a hotel. He emphasized the power of good photography. Jeremy also noted, "…photography is a visual language. As with spoken languages, there are many different ways to speak, and some are better spoken than others. If you need to speak Mandarin, an Italian translator is not going to be of much use. If you want to communicate the visual experience of a great hotel, you are best served by a hotel photographer." Not just every photographer has the knowledge involved in shooting a hotel and producing beautiful results.
Disseminate photos across all channels – and don't neglect social media
Once professional hotel images are obtained from the right photographer, hotels should make sure the pictures are dispersed throughout all marketing mediums. Not only do the photos need to be on a hotel's gallery page and social media channels, but also across sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor notes that travelers are 150% more engaged with listings that have more than 20 photos than with properties that have only a few pictures. Hotels should remember to be transparent, which might mean showing pictures of rooms from different angles. If a hotel is incorrectly displaying its property, guests will post about it on social media, and it will only result in a negative impact.
While professional imagery is necessary, it's essential also to utilize user-generated content and images snapped from mobile devices. Hotels shouldn't neglect these valuable assets, and they should be used on social media sites, especially Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. Many hotels have had success with using Instagram and user-generated photos to increase their social media followings and potentially gain more bookings as well. Coordinating an Instameet, hosting an Instagram contest around a specific hotel-related hashtag, and partnering with local events to reach new audiences have proved useful for many hotels.
Hotels should invest in better photography, and do so quickly to stay ahead of their competitors! Taking advantage of new technology available and evolving social media influences will only help turn casual web browsers into future guests.