Why Great Photography May be the Best Investment You Ever Make

By Gary Leopold President & CEO, ISM | May 19, 2010

If you believe "a picture is worth a thousand words" then you can only imagine how exponentially more valuable a really great picture is worth, especially as you think about a networked society that's taking these images and effortlessly distributing them to every corner of the world and sharing them on mediums ranging from computers to PDA's to phones.

How you depict your hotel has never been more critical and the role that photography plays has never been more important. Yet it's surprising how poor the general quality of photography is as you leaf through brochures and surf across the internet. Given the investment owners, developers and management companies put into their hotels, it's amazing that there doesn't seem to be an equally significant investment being made in creating imagery that shows off the property in the most engaging and compelling way possible.

According to a study done by Hotels.com nearly 70% of respondents agreed that seeing photos of the hotel and hotel rooms are key to their decision making process. Why? Because in the customer's desire for immediate gratification, photos are the easiest and fastest way to absorb something about that hotel, and when combined with customer ratings, descriptions and maps, they are the best way to convey the ambiance, quality, service, features and style of your property.

Given the way travelers research and access information today, the single most important marketing expenditure your hotel will ever make will be in the visual images that you use to tell your story to the marketplace.

But getting great photography doesn't happen by accident. In reality it's part art and part science, and through the years I've seen million dollar spaces made to look dull and uninteresting, and simple guest rooms at budget hotels made to feel cozy and comfortable. While digital photography and automatic features on cameras has improved the quality of most picture taking, capturing the spirit and flavor of your property requires far more than snapping a few images as you walk around the hotel. As my friend Robert Reck, an accomplished photographer whose work is regularly featured in Architectural Digest constantly reminds his clients, great images are "made" not "taken".

As you contemplate creating the best possible imagery for your hotel, here are some things to consider:

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.