When it comes to hotel marketing, showcasing your property is of utmost importance. Prospective guests not only need to get a sense for the type of getaway or vacation they’re likely to enjoy, but they also need to immerse themselves in your resort layout or experiences, and, arguably the most important aspect, visualize themselves on your property.
Hotel marketing managers need to curate their photography assets carefully, artfully, and strategically in a manner that inspires prospective guests to imagine themselves on your property, and potentially even begin to plan their stay (or at very least daydream about it) before they ultimately make the decision to click and book.
Here are seven tips to help you drive bookings by visually representing your hotel or resort in the most desirable fashion.
1. Allocate a budget for professional photography
Not to minimize the utility and convenience of using the camera on a smartphone to capture photo assets, but you should set a plan for how and when to use this type of imagery. Given the impressive technology embedded in today’s smartphones (as well as the editing possibilities), they can most certainly capture captivating images worthy of inspiring people to stop and reflect.
This type of photography can be perfect for social posts, but for other owned media assets like your website, aggregator listings, and other collateral like brochures, you will want high-quality professional images that make your resort stand out.
Making your resort visually stand above the others should be your main objective, and professional photography will help you achieve that.
2. Establish a diverse visual asset library
This should not be mistaken for visually documenting every aspect of your resort. Similarly, it does not mean capturing twenty frames of the same or similar scene (perhaps of the hired talent holding a cocktail at different angles, but with the same smile during a staged conversation with friends).
Capturing multiple frames of the same or similar scene may allow you to select the best shot. Collectively, however, they should be seen as one shot. Instead, create a shot-list of the venues and types of photos you want to establish. Obviously, this would include shots of guest rooms, restaurants, spas, pool, beach, bar, etc. But it would also include ensuring you have a mixture of assets of architectural photos as well as lifestyle photos.
If all your photos of the pool, restaurant, or lobby are absent of people, you’ll end up with a collection of photos that may be as visually distinct and arresting as Wes Anderson’s visual style, but you may lack some humanity in your library. We’ll say it again: be sure to plan to capture both architectural and lifestyle photos.
3. Create Instagram-able moments for your guests
People take photos on vacation. They even take photos on business trips. These may be photos of surrounding attractions or daytrips, but odds are, they also include photos taken on your own property. Once they’ve captured the perfect photo while lounging at the pool, standing in front of a floral step-and-repeat backdrop, or stepping into the bar area where the lounge has a visually arresting and artfully designed neon entry, they are likely to immediately post it on their social media profiles. Their friends and followers will no doubt inquire as to where they are, and hopefully add your property as a potential getaway location.
The Westin in Downtown Austin has created an Instagrammable moment with their ATX lobby sign welcoming hotel guests.
Creating Instagram-able moments for your guests is an invitation for them to take the perfectly curated photo, post, and share. As a result, they’re endorsing your property to their entire social media followers…at no cost to you.
4. Integrate AR and VR
The beauty of augmented reality is that it affords resort marketers the ability to share (and enhance) their environment with their potential guests. When prospective guests are looking into hotel or resort choices, they invariably have several questions.
Through interactive rooms, AR can help guests visualize the interior of a room or the property, potentially with callouts that could pop up to highlight innovative features or special bar/restaurant/retail offers.
Much like how Best Western in partnership with Disney used augmented reality to allow kids to see themselves alongside characters from Disney Films, you can help prospective guests see themselves in the Instagram-able moments you created (see tip 3).
Virtual Reality, on the other hand, can offer your guests virtual tours so they can see their hotel room and other stand-out parts of the hotel before they arrive. Much like virtual tours of houses in the real estate market create interest in a home, virtual tours of your guest rooms and property will create desire and a lasting impression among prospective guests.
5. Refresh your photography
This is essential if your property is located in a region where there are seasonal changes. In these locations, the guest experience will be more than likely different in summer than in fall, and how you showcase your property should help prospective guests visualize their stay during the season they are planning on visiting. Visuals of guests holding refreshing Palomas by the pool during the summer might be swapped out with guests holding Pumpkin Spice Lattes by a fireplace during late fall.
In this example, The Grand Geneva Resort and Spa highlighted a fall-inspired dish from one of their restaurants.
Even if your property isn’t in a region with clear seasonal changes—for instance, if your experience takes guests to Hawaii or the Caribbean—it is still important to ensure your photography is refreshed. You want to give prospective guests the impression that your experience is evolving. That there is always something new being added to the consistent something desired.
Returning guests may want to see that there is something new they can experience on this trip. New guests who may have chosen another resort over yours last year, will want to see that there is something different to experience this year.
In this example, Round Hill Hotel & Villas featured their exclusive partnership with a holistic wellness center, offering on-site, limited-time restorative clinics for guests.
6. Drive traffic back to your website or other owned property
This may be easier said than done, but the benefits are evident. The more you can drive traffic back to your site, even if prospective guests saw visuals of your property on an aggregator site or other Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), the better served you will be to control the visual experience of your property.
Yes, OTAs and aggregators do a fantastic job at bookings, but often require you to offer them a cut of the rate. Inspire prospective guests to visit your site before booking to get additional detail on offers, additional augmented reality or virtual reality tours of your property, or even insight into user generated content (UGC) of their Instagram-able moments. Reward them for booking on your site with slightly discounted rates, or additional amenities not achieved by booking on OTAs (like check-in gifts, late check-out times, etc.).
7. Adhere to a consistent visual brand look and feel
Much like you’ve done the work to establish a brand voice for your messaging, you should also ensure a consistent brand look and feel is established visually. Define parameters for the visual representation of your brand (e.g., we are x, we are not y). Define your desired guest persona with precision. Define the type of experience your destination or property uniquely delivers. Then, establish photography guidelines that fall within those definitions. You want to ensure that your visual library consistently supports your defined and desired brand experience.
Choose influencers and micro-influencers who reflect your established brand aesthetic—not just influencers who may have an impressive social following. Resist the temptation to be all things to all guests. You will only end up confusing or turning off prospective guests from making the click to book.
Just as you take the time to be deliberate in your annual brand planning, be sure to make an equally informed approach to how you will visually represent your brand and properties to prospective guests. A mere photo of a pool shows prospects your property has a pool; putting the extra thought into how to capture the photo of your pool not only tells prospective guests you have a pool, but it also suggests to them the afternoon they deserve to experience at your pool…your spa…your restaurant…and even your guest rooms.
The visual experience of your brand begins well before the moment guests enter your lobby. Fortunately, you can control and establish that experience with visual planning.
Like what you read? Contact us to see how we may be able to help you meet your marketing goals.