Why Your Hotel Website Needs Great Photography

May 20, 2015 SnapShot Team

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In this second article in our Hotel Marketing series, led by SnapShot CMO Martin Soler, we take a look at why great hotel websites are all about great photography. Stay tuned for further Hotel Martketing do's and don'ts.

Why does celebrity endorsement work? How does beauty affect a buying decision? The answer lies in emotional rapport. The same goes for hotels. No matter if you ask a seasoned salesman or analyze TV and print commercials, in almost every case it will be emotion that drives the sale.

A prominent ad man, Rob Leavitt once said, “People don’t ask for facts in making up their minds. They would rather have one good, soul-satisfying emotion than a dozen facts.”

In choosing a hotel, guests will try to make a rational decision based on the three Ps: Place, Product, and Price. But the one factor that will affect the decision, all rationality be damned, is emotion. With a great emotional impact, hotels can take guests beyond purely rational decision making into an emotional, closer context.

Analyze the advertising revolution led by David Ogilvy in the 50s and what was the huge change? Emotional impact, before then adverts were based on texts and illustrations, most of which were printed in black and white. Suddenly come full-page color ads with photographs. Then in the 60s when DDB launched the creative revolution they added emotional impact through great photography plus a new type of copywriting one that grabbed the reader’s emotions and made them re-think their habits.

Why did boutique hotel’s have such a success when they started in the 1980s? Because the individually decorated rooms and hotels delivered a new and exciting emotional impact.

Hotels are visual. Unless you’re competing solely for the lowest price on the market, hotels are about seeing, touching, sensing and experiencing comfort.

While many hotel’s advertise hotels as the “home away from home” a more correct analogy when it comes to design, boutique and luxury hotels is “a home the way you wished it would be.” And how should hotels deliver that emotional impact? Of course they can devise great tag lines and sexy copy- But nothing delivers more than photography.

Great Photography is Great Emotion

To deliver a great emotional impact, your hotel must have great photography. The rooms, the surroundings, the lobby and all must be shot by expert photographers that can communicate through those images the quality and experience that guests can expect.
Rooms and environment must be presented in a way that they elicit and emotional response. Just showing the environment the way the camera sees it will not elicit any response.

The images must communicate more than just reality, those images must convey everything that your Unique Selling Proposition is about. If it’s the location get amazing pictures of your city. If it’s the rooms and decor make it an immersive experience of the room. If it’s the amazing service then you’ll need to show that through photos that convey that experience.

Size Does Matter

Showing a great photo on one quarter of the screen has almost no impact. The bigger the picture the bigger the impact. And if you’re worried that it’ll push off the text from your site, ask yourself when you last booked a hotel because there was great text on the home page.

We started making full-screen hotel websites in 2008 and rapidly saw a huge difference in website conversion. Some of the pioneer hotels haven’t had their websites re-done since and they still work better than most other competing sites

Speed and Emotion

While this may not seem evident, a slow site worsens emotional impact. Notice how waiting in line at the airport reduces the excitement of your vacations? At first you’ll probably feel annoyed at the end you’ll be apathetic of the line. The same goes for your website, though hopefully guests don’t have to wait that long. On the other hand remember how pleased you were when you arrived at a hotel and had immediate service?

Any time lost waiting lowers the emotional impact. So you must make those huge images load incredibly fast. It’s a challenge but it will ultimately affect your bottom line.

In Summary

If you want to raise your average price you need a great property with great interior design and service and if you want to increase direct bookings you need a great website that will show every penny worth of ADR with a great emotional impact.

Failing to deliver that emotional impact will relegate you to strict competition in price and that’s a hard battle to win.

The best way to do this is with accentuating your hotel’s Unique Selling Proposition through great photography.

Stay tuned for more articles on Hotel Marketing!