The Importance of Photography Within the Hospitality Marketing Mix
The world is saturated with images. Every website, advertisement, and Instagram post comes with a picture. In marketing, photography can make or break your campaign, especially on your most vital branding tool, your website. In the business of hotel photography, poor quality photos that fail to express the property or the brand do nothing for their efforts, and in fact, do more harm than good.
As photographers in an industry that demands we communicate their worth through imagery, we must ask “what do our clients need from us?” The answer is innovation. In order to be a leader in the hotel photography market, or really any market for that matter, you must be an expert in presenting forthcoming ideas. For example, our firm has been instrumental in bringing video into the mix. From aerial and drones to character videos and webisodes, these properties are providing new and different content to their target customers.
Hotel shoppers look online first and this trends just continues to accelerate. Your photography is your viewer’s first impression. If they don’t believe your photos are first-rate, then they will click the mouse and move to the next provider.
This is why hospitality photographers consider three key elements. How the hotel positions itself to their customers, how can they convey quality, and how can they express uniqueness? The eye automatically drifts to photographs first. However, what is more important than having good photography is not having bad photography. A flawed or cheap looking shot can bring down the opinion of your property, even if you spent a lot of money on your website and the other graphic details are top notch, unsightly pictures can ruin the impression.
To do all of this and still portray the exclusive story of the property is a real art. Hotels all over the world have a narrative, and photography must embrace the story of the property. It is known that people buy on emotion, and if there is a compelling story that draws people in, your business becomes even more desirable.
In the hospitality industry, photography must be a principal focus of the marketing strategy. The shots need to create a feeling and connect, expressing what kind of experience they will have during their stay. A study conducted by Hotels.com stated that about 70% of respondents agreed that the photos of the hotel and hotel rooms were influential to their decision-making process. This proved true when several years ago, one of our clients did a test to see how photography influenced their customer base. They set up two websites. One contained poor quality and monotonous shots, while the second site displayed exceptional images throughout. It came as no surprise that the difference in bookings was enormous, with the visually appealing website having much more success.
Lastly, becoming a forerunner in this industry means you do all of this and adhere to branding guidelines. Every photographer on the team recognizes that a brand must be kept consistent and that it was created with specific features designed to speak to the audience. Images need to be thought of as brand art. A trained photographer will understand the culture of the location, the value that guests place on travel, and find the uniqueness that will spark a connection, all while upholding the brand. Maintaining it should be a priority, especially in photography.