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 June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.