How many times have you looked at stunning travel photography and imagined yourself lying on that particular beach, gazing at that waterfall, enjoying that delicious dessert? Photographs have the power to change minds, making a potential guest pick a property they had not considered previously and discard a property they were going to book. Good quality images are essential if you want to increase bookings. Expedia has found that showing multiple photos as opposed to a handful can produce a 4.5% take up and $3.50 higher ADR.
The noise from the internet can be loud and overwhelming when thousands of billions of images and words are fighting for your attention and your customer’s attention, making competition tougher than ever. Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) are an essential part of any hotel's marketing strategy. Not only do they put your hotel in front of millions of people, they also reduce some of the marketing costs for you by undertaking their own marketing efforts. However, this means that you will be alongside thousands of other properties trying to win the same customers.
So what is your best chance of standing out? You can start by ensuring that the copy to describe your property is compelling, accurate and is accompanied by outstanding photographs. You need to connect the words to strong visuals that will make your guests imagine their experience at your hotel. As well as listing essentials such as whether breakfast is included or the availability of Wi-Fi, it is also important to make sure that grammar and spelling is flawless.
Here are some tips to help you get it right.
- Invest in a professional. Badly lit, small grainy images are not going to entice people to book your property. Consider this to be an investment for your brand image, which will pay for itself in the long run. If you decide to take your own photos make sure the photos are at least 150 dpi which should be sufficient for most online sites.
- Appeal to your Target Audience. If your hotel is popular as a couple’s getaway, have photo's that represent the romantic elements, such as relaxing in a spa, rose petals on the bed or intimate dining on the beach. However, if you want to attract families to your Water-Park Hotel pictures of kids having fun on the slides, enjoying ice-cream, playing at the kids club will work.
- The more images, the better. According to Trip Advisor, hotels that provide 20+ photos on booking sites achieve up to 150% more engagement than properties with fewer photos. Include multiple shots of the best part of your hotel and the surrounding area.
- Collaborate. Try to work with tour companies and local businesses to add more photos of places to visit and things to do in the area such as recreational activities, nearby museums, sightseeing or shopping. This will create an atmosphere that your customers can expect.
- Caption Images. Enhance your perfect photography by adding a caption or short description. People often glance through through hundreds of photos so make yours stand out by pre-empting potential questions - is the pool heated? How far is the beach? What amenities are available?
- Tell a Story. Try to make the many photos you have flow, by creating a sequence that will allow potential guests a chance to visualise their trip from reception to the room to the pool.
- Make a video. Why not have a video or virtual tour depicting the experience a guest may have with you? This type of media can seem more ‘real’ and enticing to the viewer, and allow them to picture themselves having this experience.
It is important that certain areas of the property are included in your photo album for maximum conversion. 2% of potential visitors will not book a hotel without seeing what the bathroom looks like.
These are shots which are essential to include in your album.
- Rooms. It is important to include at least one image of the main sleeping area and also the bathroom. Ensure the beds appear immaculate and the rooms are spotless. Never show the toilet with the seat up.
- Amenities. Include shots of the amenities your property offers - Pools, Gym, Restaurants, Conference rooms etc.
- Exterior. Showing well-kept gardens and the exterior of the property is important as a first impression.
- Reception. A shot of reception, particularly one that portrays helpful, friendly staff to potential guests is another important factor when encouraging visitors to book your hotel.
The power of great images can never be discounted when the competitive landscape changes, strengthens and evolves in the digital arena. Most importantly, you want to represent your best, genuine self - highlight all the winning features about your business. Never undersell your business, or even worse, mislead or misrepresent your offering. You want to gain the trust and loyalty of your customers and using images to win them over, delight them, and have them leave a raving review is a great result for your efforts. Even better would be to welcome them come back for their second or third stay. And perhaps their friends and colleagues may also show up, simply because they gave you a glowing recommendation. A little can go a long way.