Whatever kind of accommodation you run, these days you’re going to want to be marketing it online. While reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations will always be important, it’s very clear that what hotels really can’t do without is high-quality visuals. They’re the first impression anyone searching for a hotel is going to see of your work, and the most lasting impression at that.
But even if you do decide to hire a professional to take the photographs of your premises, you may not know exactly what you have to do to make their work as effective as possible. How should you present the site, what kind of facilities should you capture, what are these photos aiming to show? These tips may help explain some of the processes to you.
Why is it so important to have photos in the first place?
Your chances of getting a booking go up by 225% if you include just one photo or more online.
Hoteliers always think about managing reviews and getting positive written feedback online, but studies suggest they have a far smaller impact on business than online visuals. Whether you’re running a B&B, a hostel, hotel or short homestay, your chances of getting a booking go up by 225% if you include just one photo or more online. That’s a huge difference to your business with very minimal effort and gets you very high Return on Investment considering the price of a single photoshoot.
According to studies done by Airbnb on professional photographs of accommodation, you could see as much as a 26% price increase on rooms just from a few well-taken photos. However, they can’t just be any lazily-done, low-quality photographs taken whenever by an employee on their own personal camera. 78% of people find photos to be the most important factor in making their hotel choice, meaning the conditions of the hotel and all the facilities are all going to be gathered from this immediate first impression. To really draw customers in, these have to be near perfect, or at the very least, professional.
Professional photoshoots are pretty important for any accommodation then, but you still need to consider how you set yourself up for a site visit. Here are a few of the essentials:
Prepare a list in advance of what needs to be done
What might not immediately occur to you is the need to make sure guests aren’t in rooms and other areas while the shoot is taking place. You’re going to have to plan out how to organise vacancies and clear social areas of the site, or just plan a day of the hotel being totally closed to business to really get a full shoot done efficiently.
This has to be decided in advance of the shoot for it to economically make sense, and you have to have some clear kind of vision for the shoot, based around these questions:
What kind of photos do you want on your website?
What are the visuals aiming to illustrate?
What is the brand image you’re trying to create?
Which parts of the hotel make it stand out?
This way you cut costs by reducing the time the photographer has to be there and your business has to be closed, and also make sure the visual content has a clear, coherent theme.
With Meero, this process is simple. Our photographers are experienced in many fields, able to adapt to different kinds of shoots and different requirements, and while we handle each step of the photoshoot admin and organisation, you’re still able to discuss with them the details of specific shots and angles.
Preparing the rooms
It may seem totally obvious, but a lot of work has to go into individual rooms before they’re ready to shoot. Things like steaming and pressing linen beforehand cuts down on a lot of the tedious chores you have to do during the shoot by organising straight lines and angles for the photographer to follow.
Each room needs to be to be fully gone over by the housekeeping department to make sure you have a clean, professional room to shoot. Metal services need to be polished, floors need to be vacuumed, the works. Aim to style the beds and sheets the same for each room, even if the decoration changes in each. It shows the consistency in room quality and maintenance that customers want to see.
You should also include amenities like bathrooms, TVs, desks and tables, but avoid including things like telephones, wiring and lightbulbs. One lets the customer know they have all they need, and the other makes the shoot look amateurish. Putting in a fruit bowl display or flowers is also a nice touch often used by professionals.
You also have to consider when in the day certain rooms should be shot. Natural light is key to photographers, but too much can wash out a room and make it difficult to focus. Rooms facing the East should be shot in the morning and those to the West in the afternoon to avoid direct sunlight getting in the lens.
© Hotel Vitale
Luckily, if mistakes do happen, Meero has a powerful AI-driven photo editing service that can colour correct and reorient photos in less than 24 hours, getting content back to you when you need.
You want to consider what exterior view best shows off the hotel as a building as well as a place to stay. Customers love the idea of staying somewhere with atmosphere, so capturing a good shot from somewhere on the grounds always adds a certain edge to your listing.
While you’re at it, make sure the garden or balconies have been gone over by the gardening department. Trimmed lawns, varnished wood and clean paint are all essential to a professional photo.
© Hotel Roma Montemario
One major trend at the moment is the use of twilight photography - taking a photo of the exterior a few minutes after dusk with the lights on inside. It gives a very warm, friendly appearance to your business, especially with the lights inside, inviting the viewer to come by to stay. To do this you need staff to arrange the lights around the building, some kind of awareness of where you want the cameraman to shoot from, and a time when you can clear the whole premises from one angle to arrange the lighting.
As many of the photographers in the Meero network also work freelance on landscape and artistic photography projects, they’re used to capturing architecture, gardens, and ‘golden hour’ lighting to really bring out the beauty in your properties.
Restaurants and bars
If your hotel has a restaurant, this requires a different style of photography altogether. Suffice to say, if you do have facilities like this, you’re going to want to capture them, but photographers have to be briefed on different projects like food photography to make their work efficient and effective. You could need to take menu pictures, kitchen pictures, staff pictures, or general dining area pictures, which all require different setups.
You can pre-arrange with photographers whether you want menu photos, kitchen photos, shots of the dining area or general ‘lifestyle’ photographs of the kitchen, waiters and bar staff at work. It’s more complicated than just preparing rooms with new sheets and decor, but it puts your restaurant under the spotlight and gives it an image of its own.
Whether you’re capturing the best cocktails of the bar, the staff hard at work in the kitchen, or the different locations guests can dine in, make sure your photographer is briefed in food photography and ready to get the best shots while they’re still hot.
Meero’s network includes photographers that have experience working in food and real estate fields of photography and know exactly what kind of demands you have for the shoot. The flexibility of the solution is perfectly designed for hotels with more than one business on site.
Think about technology
How will certain parts of your site come out best? Is simple photography going to be all you want to use? In 2019, there are loads of different types of media available to you to branch out what kind of shoot you want.
360 VR virtual tours can offer a totally unique new experience: an online viewer gets the experience of visiting the hotel without having to leave the house. 77% of customers surveyed online said they wanted to do a virtual tour before doing a ‘real’ visit of accomodation, and this gives a brand new angle to your property while embracing new ‘millennial’ modes of marketing - 71% of Millennials have positive reactions to brands using VR.
Meero offers a Virtual Visit service that provides top-of-the-range visuals for competitive prices far faster than any of the competition, getting your content back to you within 24 hours of the shoot.
© Sandy Beach Hotel & Resort
And don’t stop there! Aerial drone photography services can really enhance these angles and set you apart from the competition. Getting that bird’s eye, aerial view of your property is particularly effective for capturing some kind of unique appeal to your property: the surroundings, the rooftop bar, etc.
Come up with an action plan with the staff
Completely re-arranging business like this requires you to warn your staff. They’ll need to know about any changes to their work to accommodate the photographer, and you’ll have to organise days off or making people work in different areas for the day.
© Hotel Bachaumont
On the other hand, the staff can also play a big part in the photographing of a hotel. ‘Lifestyle’ photographs of different employees, like a chef by their food or a concierge at their desk, give a more wholesome, authentic look to your establishment. After all, a large part of your hotel stay is the atmosphere. 60% of millennials say the most important part of a holiday is having an authentic experience.
© Hotel Bachaumont
Because Meero’s photographers work in various fields, they’re familiar with lifestyle photography and know how to show your employees in the best light, not just capturing interiors. Our network of freelancers is fully professional vetted to high standards in different kinds of photography, meaning a photographer is always available to create your perfect brand image.
Is there something that really sets your hotel apart? Do you have some kind of specific features in the local area or in your hotel itself that makes you stand out from the competition? If so, use them.
© Salish Lodge & Spa
Salish Lodge & Spa in Washington, for example, is right on top of an 82 foot waterfall (you might recognise it from the hit 1990s series Twin Peaks.) Their visual content on their website really plays into the waterfall surroundings, making them unlike any other luxury resort in the Washington State area.
But it doesn’t have to be as dramatic as that! Wide open grounds, a particularly impressive view, distance to the sea, a pool: these sorts of things really play into a customer’s booking decision and can change a hotel’s online presence almost instantly.