“Several studies have shown that the professional photographs of the property rank among the most important deciding factors for a potential guest to choose one hotel property over another.”
“A recent eye tracking study by Cornell University found that the images are one of the most important deciding factors for consumers when booking a hotel.”
“A study also found that images provided by the hotel were sought out more than user-generated images.”
A picture is worth a thousand words! We all know this saying and it always stands true!! Statistics also show that the number and quality of your imagery direct affect the booking conversion rates on all digital channels. So are you ensuring that your photographer is showcasing your Destination to it’s true potential?
Anthony Grote Photography has been creating high quality visual content for more than 10 years, covering Hotel & Lodges around the continent of Africa, as well as the Indian Ocean Islands. Producing exceptional quality marketing collateral while maintaining professional, and friendly, relationships going forward has ensured that clients keep using us each time they need to update their visual marketing material.
Once you have decided on your photographer, it is now essential that you get your Hotel prepared for the shoot, this being critical to ensure that you get the best quality visuals during your shoot.
*A general rule of thumb is that a room, foyer, lounge or a pool area or any other area of the property should portray exactly as a guest would experience it. Thus, great liberties should not be taken in moving furniture, changing furniture or styling areas differently than a property normally styles their spaces. The photographs must represent what is on the ground (but that is not to say that photographers will not need to move furniture a few feet this way or that way to suit the way the camera “sees” a space. However, reworking an entire room setup will not reflect the property as it actually is and guests may point this out and feel that they were misled by the photographs.) *
The following steps are essential to prepare your Hotel for a photoshoot:
1. Exterior Photography
Dusk and dawn offer the best natural light conditions to photograph the exterior of you Hotel. Timing is critical at these times as the lighting period comes and goes quickly, so all aspects that need to be photographed, need to be ready prior to this “best lighting period”. This means that all artificial lighting needs to be checked that it is working correctly.
For the front entrance images, it is best to have the entrance area free of cars. Remove any unwanted rubbish bins and ash trays from entrance area, as well as ensuring all gardens are manicured properly. Please also ensure that lights are turned on at least an hour before shooting, and if day-night switches need to be over-ridden, this can then be done with sufficient time. Lighting is critical, so it is imperative that this is checked throughly before the shoot.
2. Select the Correct Guest Rooms
Choosing the correct rooms is imperative! The rooms obviously have to represent the various options on offer as well as what is best to photograph. Light plays a major factor in the quality of the final image. Too much light and the visuals will be washed out, too little light and they will appear dark and lifeless. It is critical to choose based on the time of shooting and where the sun will be at that point in time. Photographing rooms seldom happens during the mid-day sun as the light at this point is too harsh, creating images which lack that high quality and marketability.
Then once these rooms have been chosen, they need to be blocked off on the system to allow time for preparation and then time for the shoot. All these rooms need to be prepped the night before the shoot, or if the shoot is in the evening, they need to be prepped that morning, ensuring that all aspects are perfect. The rooms should be perfectly styled according to your Brand guidelines, curtains, duvet covers and bed skirts should be steamed and wrinkle free. Pillows need to be fluffed and scatter cushions must be laid out correctly, either aligned straight or with the centre chop. All other items that could be considered clutter (trash bins, magazines, hair dryers etc) need to be hidden.
Please also ensure lights bulbs are working and are all the same colour (yellow vs white). For photography purposes, white light is preferred, and LED light bulbs work the best.
3. Lobby and Reception Area
Being aware that I am photographing a working Hotel, I am adept to working around an active Hotel, and in particular, the Reception area. But with the help of staff members assisting guests in other areas for a short while, foot traffic can be averted from the from desk area for the short period in which the shoot is taking place. If possible, the shoot can be scheduled for the quiet times in the Lobby, but even then, assistance may be required in order to ensure the visuals are carried out uninterrupted.
With regards to the Staff and Reception area, ensure extra collateral are cleared to reduce clutter, and the computers are organised as to not dominate the visuals. Ensure staff are wearing the correct uniforms and if a member of staff is required in the visuals, that they are a willing participant with an inviting smile to assist where needed.
4. Restaurant & Bar
When setting up the restaurant, ALL tables should be set. All linen should be pressed and steamed to remove creases. If there is a buffet arrangement, please ensure that the buffet area is set-up correctly and that all foods look fresh and tidy. I often find in these cases it is best to ensure that the dining area is set-up at least 30min prior to serving time, allowing time to photograph before guests are allowed in to dine.
Minimalism is always best, so ensure bar area is cleared of any clutter and that the mixing area and entire bar is clean, but still portrays the feeling of entertainment and relaxation.
5. Pool Areas
Please ensure the pool area is clean and tidy. If there are pool loungers, ensure that they are lined up and tidy with all the lounger cushions secured correctly. Also ensure that the pool, itself, has been cleaned thoroughly, leaves removed from bottom of pool and any pool cleaners and chlorinators removed from pool. Please make sure that sufficient pool towels are laid out as per you brand specifications. Pool umbrellas need to be out and extended.
If the pool area is to be photographed in the evening, please ensure that staff are notified not to pack away towels and umbrellas before the shoot is over!
6. Conference Rooms
Conference room set-ups should be done as per your specified layouts. Please ensure that all tables are straight, and chairs aligned correctly, if in a movie house, or schoolroom, layout. Also ensure that screens are down and projectors are laid out correctly.
The tables should be laid out correctly with water pitchers, glasses, branded writing material according to your Brand specifications.
7. Food Photography
If budgets allow it, it is always recommended to have a food stylist as part of the shoot. They will work closely with the Chef to prep and show-off the food items as best as possible.
If not, please keep in mind that each item will take approximately 30min to shoot, so the chef needs to plan that not all items come out at the same time, otherwise the food will not look it’s best.
THE BOTTOM LINE
My suggestion to Hospitality property owners, General Managers and Directors of Sales and Marketing is that it is wise to invest in professional photo shoots: a great hospitality photographer can add a fortune to your digital marketing collateral. Knowledge of how to shoot interiors and exteriors so that the lights is balanced inside and outside, all that it does not look like the walls are falling in, is what makes the difference between a professional photographer or your cousin that has just bought himself a DSLR.
You also need a professional photographer who specializes in photographing all aspects of your Destination, not just the interiors and exteriors, but the whole Lifestyle you are offering, from arrival, to departure. Travellers want to see more of what is on offer than just the rooms and restaurant.
Finally, update your photographs frequently! If you renovate, add a budget for the photoshoot into the renovations costings. Images need to be fresh and enticing and portray what is on the ground. This is your window to the world and you need to show it!!
CONTACT ME NOW to book your professional Hotel photography!!