July 28, 2015
A hotel's website is usually the first point of contact with prospective customers, so it needs to make a good first impression fast. Your website has just a few seconds to lure customers, and the best way to do this is through compelling imagery that immerses prospective guests in the experience of your property. Here's how:
1. High-Quality Images
Website photos should show your property's best side, so composition, lighting, colour and resolution is important. Photo quality is especially necessary for those big, beautiful images that stretch across the width of the page a current Web design trend that immediately catches our eye and engages our emotions. If professional photography fits within your budget, it's unquestionably worth it.
Note: large, un-optimized images can slow a website down, so it's also important to optimize image files to keep page load times to a minimum.
2. Tell a Story
If a picture speaks a thousand words, it makes sense to let photos do a lot of the talking. Photos should convey the personality of your property and the experience of a stay, as well as inform prospective guests about rooms and facilities. Throughout your site, use images relevantly to illustrate the purpose of the page.
- Property photos >> Show your property in its best light from guestrooms (including bathrooms) and facilities such as lounges, dining areas, the swimming pool and fitness room, to exterior shots of the hotel and gardens with a focus on your hotel's selling points. Images of photogenic details that are unique to your property, like a horseshoe above a rustic cabin door, or a close-up of a romantic table setting in the restaurant, can also help to convey the essence of your property.
- Lifestyle photos >> Photos that show guests (or friends and family pretending to be guests) relaxing, having fun and utilizing amenities at your property portrays the experience of a stay and inspires website visitors to imagine themselves in the picture.
- Local photos >> Photos that highlight your property's location, be it the stunning coastline, an iconic shot of the neighbourhood, or the nearby theme park, help set the scene on your "Location" and "Local Attractions" pages. Including one or two in your main homepage slide show can also work well.
3. Photo Galleries
Due to the influence photos have on potential customers, photo galleries have real power to sell. Immersing customers in a visual experience of your property, photo galleries are an effective way to showcase your guestrooms and facilities, and even local attractions, events and photos taken by your guests. Your website can feature a dedicated gallery page, or use subject-specific galleries to illustrate certain pages, like your "Rooms & Suites" page or "Local Attractions" page.
All galleries should feature slide show functionality, allowing customers to view photos in a larger format, and skip forward and back through them as they like. Slideshows can be embedded into a
webpage, featured in a pop-up window, or even span the entire screen but whatever form they take, ensure galleries and slideshows are responsive for optimal viewing on any screen, be it desktop or smartphone.
4. A Note About Stock Photography
It always pays to use images of your own property rather than stock photography, which if used in excess can be misleading and appear generic. Featuring photos of your own property is the best way to convey your property's personality and inspire trust. In saying that, stock photography can be helpful in filling gaps where you might not have your own images, for example, photos of the city and local attractions, or even of guests having fun.
When using stock photographs to depict on-property subjects like guests, choose images that focus on the subject rather than the setting photos that appear as if they could have been taken at your hotel, like a happy couple clinking wine glasses in front of a glorious sunset. It's also important to make sure any stock images used match the style of original photography on your website and depict the personality of your property. Online sources of high-quality stock photography include Shutterstock, iStock and Getty Images.
Travelers shop for experiences and images are the best way to convey that, so photos are a vital element of a hotel website. Investing in quality photography for your website has the power to turn online "window" shoppers into paying guests.