HOW TO PREPARE YOUR HOTEL
FOR A PROFESIONAL PHOTO SHOOT
Well, it all starts with a nice discussion between the hotel owner and the photographer over a nice cup of coffee. There are several objectives that need to be achieved during the talk:
Does the hotel owner have a clear understanding of what he needs?
Is the photographer work good enough to deliver the desired result?
Is there any chemistry between the parties involved?
In an increasingly visual world, the saying ä picture is worth a thousand words" couldn't be more actual. When vacationers begin the process of choosing hotel accommodation, many are visiting multiple sources like the hotel website, OTA's, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest before deciding where to book. Travelers often use pictures to see if a hotel matches their desired "look and feel" for a property. This is why photography is extremely vital and should be considered a top priority for hotel marketers.
What does science have to say about it?
A study published by Cornell's School of Hotel Administration used eye-tracking tech to gain a deeper understanding of what drives online hotel choice during two stages of decision making. During the browsing phase, consumers were mainly fixated on hotel name and price, hardly looking at much else. During the deliberation phase, consumers were mainly fixated on hotel name and price, hardly looking at much else. During the deliberation phase, however, researchers found that "visual behavior changed substantially."
In this crucial decision-making phase, consumers were more fixated on images and paragraphs of descriptive text. The study also found that images provided by the hotel were sought out more than user-generated images.
That's why spending the time and resources to ensure that you have thoughtful, well-curated photos of your hotel is with the extra effort. If you've been thinking about booking a photographer to shoot your hotel, we highly recommend it.
Remember what we said earlier? Consumers try to understand from the hotel photos if the property matches their desired "look and feel". From the photography point of view there are two main components to this "look and feel":
THE LOOK. The technical aspects that make a photo pleasant to the eye, and this is related to the photographer's experience, know-how, and last but not least equipment.
THE FEEL. This is harder to define but to keep it simple: does the photo generates any kind of emotion in the viewer's mind?
Let us take some examples:
There are several technical aspects that a professional hotel photographer should consider when taking a photo: are the vertical lines straight, are the walls the proper white, is the room or space correctly presented, without any misleading distortions, etc. This is one of the reasons why all major distribution platforms have very specific guides on how to take the photos you are about to submit to their platform. Have a look at the booking.com guide: <booking.com photos guide>
Let us take the image above as an example. It is the image of a very interesting bathroom, in a hotel room that one of our customers had before we did the photoshoot. As a hotel photographer we can immediately spot some obvious problems:
The walls are not straight and lean backward. This is effect is mostly used in photography and cinematography to give the viewer a tension sensation, to create suspense in dramas or horror movies. When viewing your hotel, do you really want the traveler to feel like in a horror movie? This is merely a technical and know-how issue. The photographer did not have the right equipment for the job or he lacked basic knowledge on how to take an interior photo.
The colors are not right at all. There is an orange cast everywhere and some portions of the walls have some green/blue cast to them.
The lighting is not right, there is a lot of darkness in the room and too much light in the bathroom. Beautiful design details are not clear at all.
The quality of the image is rather poor.
There is a small portion of what seems to be a chair visible in the lower-left corner.
Of course, you are not a photographer, and if you do not have the visual experience you might not find the above so concerning. How about if we show you a different view of the same image:
What do think now? Better yet, let's have a look at them side by side and you can decide which one will inspire you to book the hotel more:
Much harder to define in words than "THE LOOK". So to make it easier, we are going to take a practical example. Take a look at the photos below and think about which one generates some emotion in your heart:
Both photos show the Novotel hotel in Bucharest (Calea Victoriei). Which one is more interesting to you from an emotional point of view? Both are technically correct and present the same location. it is a beautiful hotel and the hard work of the architects should shine and speak to you at an emotional level.
The first photo can be found on google under Novotel Bucuresti search, the second was made during a beautiful sunset by our Hotel Photographers.
To make sure the photoshoot is a success, here are some tips on how to best prepare your hotel:
Preparation before the shoot
PREPARE THE CREATIVE BRIEF
Before the shoot date, there are some things that you want to make sure you have checked on your to-do list. First, you will want to provide the photographer as many insights about your property as possible. Help him get familiar with the property by providing a creative brief that will serve as a guiding reference point both before and after the photoshoot (when the editing process begins). The brief should include pertinent elements that will help guide the outcome of visual content. Don't forget to include: the story behind your hotel brand, a project summary, objectives, target audience, do's and don'ts, etc. If you haven't done this before and find it too difficult just do the following: tell him over the phone whatever you feel is important like you would tell a close friend the story behind your hotel.
SHARE THE BRAND GUIDELINES
Does your property include a brand manual? Don't be shy, share it with the photographer, I mean this is why you paid someone to build your brand manual. If you have any marketing materials, like flyers, catalogs, etc. share them as well with your photographer.
SET A SCOUTING DATE
Any professional photographer will ask to scout the location a few days before the shooting day. This will help determine the best times of day for the optimum shooting conditions in each space. This will give the photographer a better timeframe for the shoot. A shoot can take anywhere from half-day to five days - it depends on what your hotel hopes to accomplish and the budget allocated. You can take the opportunity to look together with the photographer at some test shots to see what is the photographer's vision and adjust as necessary.
PREPARE THE SHOOT LIST
To avoid any confusion regarding deliverables, you will want to prepare a shoot list, which is a full log of all the shots you want to include during the shoot. This will help ensure that the photo shoot is organized and your expectations match the photographer's understanding of the project.
Don't forget that you would like to include here a mix of shots: rooms, restaurant, and various amenities as well as exterior shots, architectural shots, detail shots, and lifestyle shots. Also specify in the list where each photo will be used (booking.com, Facebook, etc.) as this will influence the photographer's compositions and some technical aspects both when shooting as well as when editing the photos.
NOTIFY THE HOTEL STUFF
It happens that hotel staff has no idea we are shooting today between 16:00 and 19:00. Rooms are not ready, we cannot have access to them, some activities are taking place in the common areas, etc. Don't forget to notify your working staff as well as the marketing department. The best option would be to assign the task of helping the photographer to one of your knowledgeable employees who has an in-depth knowledge of the project.
DEFINE PHOTO RIGHTS
Common practice is that you would get full publishing rights and the photographer will keep the Intelectual Property rights and the right to use your photos for his own portfolio and adverts as well as any educational content he might produce in the future. Of course, depending on your market common approach this might be different. All that is important is that you make sure all the details are discussed and agreed upon, preferable agreed in writing in a contract.
If you have the budget for it, you might want to hire the following people:
For a well-budgeted photoshoot that stands the chance to provide excellent results, it takes a village to make sure everything runs smoothly. Of course, you want to balance the cost versus the expected results. If I ask you to put 1000 EUR and you expect to make 100 000 EUR most likely you will do it. If I ask you for a budget of 1000 EUR and you expect to barely make them back in revenue you might have second thoughts. It is normal. You can always start small if you are unsure of the results and grow if it pays off.
Depending on your hotel's budget, you may want to consider hiring additional help for the shoot. You can hire them on your own or arrange for a photographer to source these individuals. The minimum you should consider:
Having people in your hotel photos can make them more lively. Do we want photos of a lobby bar with fashionable adults or a pool with young kids and parents? You can convert your target demographic through the casting of models. The cost of models ranges widely on the level of experience of the model, with day rates ranging from 150 EUR to 1000 EUR. You may also consider using influencers who are used to being in front of a camera. Don't forget to have model release forms ready for the model's consent.
A producer is responsible for making sure the shoot happens without any mishaps. The producer handles pre-production, casting, contracts, consent forms, or anything that needs to happen to make sure the shoot runs smoothly.
A prop stylist assists the photographer in setting up props and other necessary materials that will form the subject of the photoshoots. They can make an otherwise bland photo come alive, particularly when it comes to things like detail shots or food shots.
Prepare the rooms for a photoshoot
For your shoot, you’ll want to photograph at least one room type in each category of the hotel’s inventory. These photographs will be used to either populate or update the images on your hotel’s brand website, booking engine, as well as across all other third-party distribution channels, such as OTA websites. When selecting these rooms, try to select rooms that have lots of natural light and a good view from the window (if possible).
You'll also want to remove any technology that may seem dated in the future like newspapers, magazines, books, radios, and computers. Exceptions to this decluttering rule include branded amenities, such as specialty soaps or candles. Make sure everything is ready and perfectly staged for the photographer.
Beyond the rooms
Remember you are trying to tell the best possible visual story of your hotel property. This doesn’t include only the guestrooms. You will want to incorporate every space of the hotel into your photography collection. Applicable common spaces such as the fitness center, lounge, meeting rooms, rooftop bar, onsite food and beverage, room service, spa, pool, etc. should all be included on your shot list.
If your hotel website has a neighborhood guide or a blog, you may want to consider incorporating a few local attractions or businesses on your shot list to boost your marketing department’s materials. These assets will be also useful when putting together email blast campaigns.
Storing your photos
It is important to store the final images you receive from the photographer in one dedicated file hosting service. We recommend cloud hosting services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or Box instead of keeping them on a disc or drive somewhere so that the photos are easily accessible by your entire hotel team, as well as any other marketing agencies you may work with.
It is also imperative that your team develops a naming system for the photo files. With hundreds of photos coming from one shoot, this will help with the sorting of images and provide the marketing team with easy access to assets not just for the hotel website and online listings, but also social media platforms, Google Business photos, and more. A well-organized photo folder will result in a happy marketing team!
Hope you found this article useful. If so, we would like to hear your comments below. If need more information, don't forget our team is more than happy to get in touch with you.
+40 752 172 104
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