Exceptional Photography: The Ultimate Asset to Drive Sales! — Photo by Remarquable!

In today's industry, potential guests systematically search for your hotel online and photography, which is likely to be the first thing to catch their eye, will shape their perception. What they see in your visuals can make them quickly decide to book, or it might make them hesitant. One concept that explains this is the "halo effect," introduced by psychologist Edward Thorndike. It means that our overall impression of something is influenced by our initial impression of one important aspect. In hospitality, this implies that the first impression from the photographs can affect how guests view everything else about your hotel, either positively or negatively. Therefore, because visuals are so important in making sales, they should be a top priority and pushed to the highest possible standard for your hotel. But what makes photography exceptional? Let's explore three factors to reach the desired outcome:

1. Choosing the right photographer

Not every photographer is right for your hotel. Each has a different way of capturing what they see and the spirit of their art will not change significantly to match your style. Therefore, be sure to take a look at their previous work and assess whether it fits your hotel's identity. Otherwise, you risk ending up with pictures that do not appeal to your guests, thereby reducing their impact. Additionally, a general rule of thumb is not to compromise by hiring a cheaper photographer, especially if their work is of lesser quality. Investing in a talented photographer, even if they are more expensive and often come from abroad, is well worth it. The exceptional photography they create will attract more guests and can justify higher rates, making your investment more than worthwhile. Think of booking generation as a engine, with components having different levels of importance in achieving your maximum performance. Because exceptional photography can have a significant impact on guest booking decisions, it is a critical component of this engine, making it a priority as part of your investment strategy.

2. Embodying your hotel identity

More than any other commercial asset, photographs can be a clear reflection of your hotel identity and let guests grasp the value they can find in your world. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. If you want to assess this characteristic in your current photographs, start by noting in detail the color tones, emotions and locations that best represent your hotel. From there, write down what would be the perfect photographs to represent these words. It is important that when you do this exercise, you use only your memory and do not look at your current visuals, as this could distort your judgement. Once you have completed this exercise, compare what you have written with your current photographs and see if the two match. If your photographs well reflects your hotel identity, you should feel a similar emotion when reading your text and looking at your pictures. If this is not the case, the main thing you can do is to reshoot your pictures and help the photographer to understand what makes your hotel unique. To achieve this, it is important to let the photographer discover your hotel for a day or two, like a guest. This approach establishes a much deeper emotional connection than simply reading a factsheet, and this is where a talented photographer can really start to shine. Ultimately, because your photography will feel much more personal, and better resonate with your target audience, you will increase your return on investment by driving more sales.

3. Crafting photography as an experience

Photographers are limited to what you, as the hotelier, ask them to do. They will make suggestions, but it is you who will have the final say and determine the set of photos you receive. So it is important to adopt a creative, guest-focused mindset when you start working with a photographer. Do not just ask for generic pictures that focus on the architecture of your hotel, as in an interior design magazine. This type of photography is not at all the best way to drive bookings, because guests are seeking experiences. Even when they first look at your hotel online, they are already longing for an experience and photography is a fantastic way to give it to them. As a result, of course, take beautiful architectural photos, but try to have fun too. Set up extraordinary scenes of dinner, guests enjoying cocktails or strolling through the most beautiful parts of your hotel and capture it all with a talented photographer. Soneva, a luxury resort brand, does it brilliantly. On its website, it always features a mix of architecture-focused images, but balances them with experiences. For example, you can discover an extraordinary dinner hosted on a Maldivian beach with countless candles or a spice dinner on a massive round table in the jungle. When guests see these lively pictures, they will want to imagine themselves there and, in a way, you made them already set a first foot on your property. Naturally Soneva has the most beautiful locations to work with, but any hotel with a bit of charm can create beautiful experiences to photograph and the budget to stage them can be easily adapted to what you are able to do.

In summary, exceptional photography is a key component of your booking generation engine. It is the first thing guests notice online and greatly shape their impression of your hotel, influencing their decision to book. Therefore, your photographs are an asset that should be optimized to the highest possible standard, by creating exceptional photography. To do this, three main factors to consider are choosing the right photographer, embodying your hotel's identity through pictures and crafting photography as an experience. If you lead your photographic project this way, you can produce exceptional photography which can be used as an effective lever to drive more bookings and increase your rates.