When Swissotel selected PhotoWeb to create more than 100 still photographs and virtual tours for its hotel websites, it marked a step change to our business. This achievement signified that we had gone beyond being a high quality digital hotel photography company, to being regarded as a digital brand agency – an agency that can capture a hotel’s corporate culture and local character and visually reflect its features online.
To portray a hotel’s brand image in the digital world is very important to hoteliers, as brand reassurance is sometimes all it takes to turn site lookers to room bookers. A hotel website therefore needs to be an extension of the brand that reinforces loyalty and trust with its customers; and with 61% of people preferring hotel websites over travel-related social media review sites, the hotel website remains the most important tool to engage with customers and increase room bookings.
So what qualities, what hotel photography tips should you look for in selecting a photography agency to capture your brand’s character online?
1. Understands your brand values – the agency needs to take time to understand your marketing proposition. What are your key messages and USPs? What do you aspire to be known for? Gaining such knowledge enables the agency to plan the optimum photo shoot, capturing images to reflect the brand’s objective. In the case of Swissotel whose brand value comprises its Swiss heritage, we planned shoots that included Swiss carvings and embroidery to help portray its Swiss roots.
2. International capability – If you are a hotel company with an international presence, your website will comprise many web pages to show case each hotel. A consistent look and feel across each page is therefore essential, but if you use multiple photography companies, you run the risk of presenting a disjointed look that could damage the brand’s reputation. Another factor to consider when using multiple photography companies is cost. By using one agency, you will gain economies of scale that will save you money in the long term, where as multiple agencies will each charge their own set up costs and end up being more expensive.
3. Considers the local culture – While corporate brand culture is important, travellers also choose hotels that depict the local atmosphere. For example, if you are a quintessential Cornish hotel in England, we recommend your digital images showcase the Cornish culture – this might be shoreline artwork that is featured in the hotel, photos of attractive Cornish fishing villages as an attraction close by or even a pair of Wellies at the back door. Make the content real and relevant and showcase the experience. If people can imagine it, they are more likely to buy it.
4. Dedicates time – “Rome wasn’t built in a day” is how the saying goes and this sentiment rings true to high quality digital photography. It takes time to shoot good photographs that supports your brand objectives, as lighting, composition, angles, fabrics and patterns are all important in setting the mood.
5. Syndication – when you have invested time and money into capturing the perfect photograph or virtual tour for your website, you then need an avenue to syndicate those images across the web. A web content syndication service ensures your images are working day and night to attract bookings and enquiries from potential guests, meeting and wedding planners and events organizers from around the world.