Why your hotel photography is more important than you think

Why your hotel photography is more important than you think

Your hotel marketing photos are a BIG deal.

They are indisputably, the most effective way to communicate the product offering of your hotel to prospective guests in the shortest possible time. 

According to research conducted by MIT's Brain and Cognitive Sciences department in 2014, they discovered the brain can actually identify and process images in as little as 13 milliseconds.

Previous studies had suggested that 100 milliseconds was about the limit, so this was a surprise to the researchers.

The eye blinks in 200 milliseconds — far slower than a guests ability to absorb a photo. 

Contrast this to printed text which takes seconds to read and moving video which even more time and data consuming, and you can see just how powerful and effective and irreplaceable the simple static photo is for hotel marketing.

Putting it simply, there is nothing that will ever trump this simple medium when it comes to communicating and conveying information to guests at speed. Not video, not virtual reality and certainly not clunky 360 degree photo tours!

Efficiency is what really matters these days as people, possessed with the fear of missing out, are constantly looking for that next "best" thing. 

That means furiously scanning hundreds of photos in milliseconds on TripAdvisor or Booking.com before they even get to your hotel website (if they even bother to read your carefully crafted copy).

That is the cold hard truth, and in fact only a very small percentage will ever read your copy even if they book your property. Studies have shown only about 20% of your website content is actually being absorbed.

That is why I firmly believe that improving your hotel photography provides one of the best possible returns on investment. Nothing is more omnipresent across your entire hotel marketing online presence than your photography. 

But don't just take my word for it! According to this recent webinar from Trivago in 2017 and citing the 'Social Science Research Network', 65% of people learn by observation, or in other words people are visual learners.

And in terms of the quality of photos here is a the real kicker ... Profiles on Trivago with high-quality photos receive 64% more clicks that profiles with low-quality or no photos!

Profiles with high-quality photos receive 63% more clicks than profiles with low-quality or no photos.
— Trivago Webinar, April 2017


So I remain dumbfounded why some hotels still treat their photography as some sort of documentation process rather than taking the time to get every single photo exactly right for your typical guest personas.

Hotel marketing photos come under the banner of commercial advertising photography in the sense that every photo is an opportunity to present a solution to solve that guests needs.

And if that photo doesn't quickly and convincingly address the needs of the guest and resonate with them then they will simply take their gaze to the next property in the long list in front of them and you will be forgotten in moments.

But wait there's more!

Your hotel photography can be very effectively used as not only advertising photography but for a myriad of other uses.

Let me give you example of a wasted opportunity ... I recently checked into a brand new hotel in Brisbane, Australia from a well known international four-star hotel.

I reached for their hotel compendium and was shocked to find that the entire thing was text based in that typical "encyclopedic" style where everything is alphabetised and about as appealing as emptying the dishwasher.

This is an absolute guest experience tragedy for that hotel, because they had the opportunity to present this information instead in a more magazine like style complete with appealing photography and real guest experience articles while still including the facts.

Instead, the information was buried within an encyclopedia of facts only that is completely divorced from the typical guest experience of simply wanting to quickly find somewhere to eat that night.

So I would encourage you to consider your hotel photography as not only your most important marketing tool but as a powerful enhancement of guest experience, communicating information throughout the hotel and connecting with guests in the fastest possible way.

When it is time to renew your hotel photography treat it with the seriousness it deserves. Learn as much as you can about great photography, immerse yourself in the process and become obsessed with understanding what your guests are really looking for.

In 2017 assuming you have a website and are listed on OTA's you only really need to get two things right ... your guest experience (product, service, value) and your photography ... does anything else really matter?