A study in 2014 revealed that the human eye can process a photo in as little as 13 milliseconds. That is much faster than scientists had previously predicted, and more than ten times faster than the blink of an eye. Mary Potter, an MIT professor of brain and cognitive sciences, concluded that what vision does is find concepts. And despite all the hype around technologies like 3D Virtual Tours, nothing communicates concepts about a hotel quicker than great photography.
Omnipresent Online Presence
Not only is hotel photography instantly processed by all who see it without translation or explanation, it is also the only brand asset that is omnipresent across the real-world and online. Photography is at the front and center of every aspect of a hotel’s online presence—from TripAdvisor and online travel agencies (OTAs) to a hotel’s marketing website, social media, and beyond.
The choice of a hotel’s main hero photo or lead photo on sites like TripAdvisor can have an enormous impact on conversion rates over time and deserves its own strategy. It’s not only critical for hotels to use the right photo in the right place, but also to create great photography from the beginning.
The Future of Voice Search and IoT
In fact, hero images are about to become even more important to hotel marketing in 2018 and beyond. Google announced at CES 2018 the release of the company’s new Smart Display platform for Google Assistant and four manufacturers, including Sony and LG, announced new voice-activated speakers with screens. These screens are running Android Things, an Android-based platform for IoT (Internet of Things) that will likely display results in a card-like format with a single hero image.
Google, Apple, and Amazon are all invested in voice search and the next logical step is the emergence of screens that can display hero photos and videos relevant to the search as well as other information for selection.
A Cornucopia of Content
To create images that lead the way in attracting and delighting guests, it makes sense to treat photography as the foundation of hotel marketing rather than just part of the mix. Great hotel photography can support a hotel’s real-world marketing efforts, such as posters and brochures, and even impact guest experience through improvements like magazine-style hotel compendiums and guest information.
Additionally, expanding hotel photography from the usual interior, exterior, and facilities pictures to amenities and hyperlocal attractions, sights, and events within walking distance of the property opens up a whole new cornucopia of content. Curated, local photography can enhance blog and social media posts, website galleries, email marketing campaigns, online and in-room guest information, and virtual concierges. This is also one of the best ways to attract guests seeking local experiences during their stay.
Great Photography Should Appeal & Reveal
Great hotel photography is visually and aesthetically appealing while also communicating what guests actually want. Each photo should be targeted to connect with the type of guest that the hotel is trying to reach. The journey towards great hotel photography starts with branding and positioning—analyzing what guests want out of their hotel experience. Once hotels understand what their target guests are looking for, they can reveal the solution through great photography.
Uses for hotel photography are constantly evolving. There will always be local attractions, restaurants, shops, cafes, and events that guests will be interested in learning about. Every hotel owner—whether of a mom-and-pop motel or a sprawling resort—should continually evolve their photography assets beyond the usual standard photos so that their property catches travelers’ attention in the blink of an eye.
About the Author
Chris Jack is the host of the Sharper Hotel Marketing podcast and Lead Consultant at Locus Focus.
Photo by Chris Jack