January 14, 2022 · Pete DiMaio
Hotel Photography: The Asset You Aren’t Assessing
Hotel assets all have a lifespan, be it the alarm clock in room 348, the dining table in the restaurant, or the computer at the front desk. Like most hotels, you are likely using some type of asset management system to track what you have and when it needs to be replaced. Just like your other physical assets, your hotel photography can become outdated and will need to be replaced. But, unlike that alarm clock, great photography can differentiate your hotel from the competition and lead directly to a great RevPAR.
So, why should you depreciate your photos and have a plan to replace them? The simple fact is customers aren’t going to book a room they’ve never seen and they are surely not going to book a room that sports mid-1990’s bedding, tube TV, and dated furniture. Just like that 1990’s room, your photography gets old and by budgeting accordingly, you can plan your photoshoots much better.
If you’re already behind the curve on your hotel photography, these tips will give you the tools you need to get to start collecting great photos and heading down the path of continual photo updates.
#1: Choose The Right Photographer
Yes, my phone can take great pictures too. And I even know someone who has a really nice camera. However, just like having a kitchen doesn’t make you a chef, owning a camera doesn’t make you a photographer. We suggest you talk to your industry partners, find hotel shots you like, and track down a photographer that specializes in what you need. This means the photographer who is right for your room shots may not be the one for your lifestyle and amenities.
We recommend spending ample time evaluating and selecting a photographer to ensure you’re able to get the right shots to promote your hotel or resort. Do your research and due diligence now, so you won’t be disappointed later.
- Only look for true professionals. There’s a reason they’re professional.
- Spend time looking at their portfolio and make sure their style matches what you like. This is one area that is very subjective and a great photographer can disappoint if their style doesn’t match yours.
- Talk to past clients and get an understanding of how they work and how much supervision/direction they need on-site.
- Pick a photographer that specializes in accommodations or real estate for your interior shots. However your exterior shots may be better served by a photographer that is better known for architectural work. It’s okay to have two photographers.
- Ask about licensing and fees. Photographers may only offer a certain number of photos for certain specific uses in their pricing. This is important to note and will factor into your budget in a major way.
- Factor in post-production and any image editing needed. For instance, if you think you are getting amazing finished shot, but are only paying for raw images, you’re likely to be disappointed. We have found that every photo will need some amount of work to be amazing.
#2: It’s All About The Rooms
The good news is you’ve likely updated your hotel’s rooms and amenities; however, if no one knows… did you really do anything?
When shooting a new room, work with your photographer and make sure that you are set for success. This includes:
- The best bedding in the house.
- Plenty of lighting to create a bright, cheery, room.
- Room staging.
- A clean room with a freshly vacuumed floor.
- Think about the weather, even for inside shots. A stormy, gloomy, day outside can dramatically impact the inside of a room.
- Have someone with your photographer to look for little issues such as wires hanging down from alarm clocks, uneven or wrinkled bed sheets, carpet issues and other things that are easy to fix during the shoot but may be very hard to correct post-shoot.
Hotel room photography most often requires post-production and combining multiple exposures to create a stunning image. The room shown here was shot by Matt Silk at North Beach Plantation.
Once you have your great shots, don’t forget to post them to your site, booking engine, search profile pages, social channels, and OTAs.
#3: Amenities Make The Vacation
Your next shoot after your rooms should be your amenities. These are the things that make your hotel unique and keep people coming back for more. Plus, it’s where many hotels miss the mark. How you may ask? They forget to put people in the shot. A vacant hot tub is flat and boring, but a shot of a couple enjoying a relaxing soak can put your prospective guest in the moment.
When planning a hotel amenities photoshoot:
- Line up your talent in advance & do not rely on staff to be your talent.
- Have a maintenance staff member standing by to help.
- Plan your shots based on time of day and sun.
- Expect that your photographer will have to do significant retouching on any photos before they are complete. This is especially true for outside shots and shots with people.
After the shoot, don’t forget to update your site, photo galleries and print materials with your new hotel photos.
#4: Your Lobby Makes The First Impression
When planning your photoshoot list, you should also focus on areas of the resort that are not typically considered an amenity such as your lobby, covered parking, valet service, and so on.
These areas are where staging and talent can turn a good shot into a great, engaging, photo.
Though these areas might not be as important as rooms or amenities, which tend to really sell a property, they are still an important part of the overall story of your hotel. Besides, how would you feel if a hotel conveniently left out every other aspect of their hotel? You’d notice the holes and your potential guests will too.
#5: Put Your Photo Assets to Work
Now that you have a bank of great hotel photography it’s time to put it to work driving new guests. This means updating all your social profiles, search listings, OTAs such as Expedia, Trip Advisor, and your own hotel website, of course.
Speaking of your website, the trend toward massive images on sites makes having great photography even that much more important. If you are planning a new website design and like the large-image style of sites like North Beach Plantation, first start with the photography because your 1990’s era room shots aren’t going to cut it and stock images only take you so far.
Lastly, update your asset management system and begin planning your next photoshoot.
Be sure to check out our Hotel Website Design page for more information on how TravelBoom can help refresh your outdated hotel website.