Defined, curb appeal is the attractiveness of a building (such as your hotel) as viewed from the street, while digital curb appeal is the attractiveness of a business (again, let’s say your hotel) as seen online. But what, exactly, is a hotel’s digital curb appeal? In a word: images. So pay attention, because we're going to talk about how to make your digital curb appeal more appealing in the Baltimore/DC Metro Region.
How important is digital curb appeal to a hotel? A lot. In today's digital age, the success of your hotel’s online presence depends on the quality of its content. Content in the hospitality industry refers to anything and everything that explains, describes, or showcases your hotel to potential guests. The thing that stands out the most though are your hotel images.
Powerful images win bookings
Now you’re probably thinking, “Yeah, I know: hotel profiles need to have a picture of the hotel on them.”
Let’s think about this for a minute. You have a website, an online hotel profile, and a few social media accounts. You have a picture of your hotel on each of them. Maybe you’re even paying for a hotel digital marketing solution. So why hasn't your occupancy rate increased? You’re using a reputable booking system. Your availability is up to date. Your rates are accurate and competitive. You’ve even renovated recently. So what's the problem?
Your photos . . . how can we say this . . . your photos may need a little work.
The one of the never ending hallway. That crooked shot of the room number. The yellowed image of a bagel at the breakfast bar. The blurry photo of the swimming pool. The small, pixelated picture of the front desk. We could go on and on. Maybe, (hopefully), they aren’t all bad. But they aren’t all good either. And therein lies the problem.
Don’t believe us? Open up some new tabs in your browser. Now, enter your hotel’s name on:
Your default search engine
The hotel metasearch site you signed up for
The OTA websites that you pay commissions to
The social media sites where you have business pages
See what we're talking about now?
TripAdvisor published findings reporting that hotels with at least one photo experienced a 138% increase in user engagement when compared to hotels without photos. In addition, hotels with at least one photo are 225% more likely to receive a booking inquiry. If just one photo can have that much of an impact, think of what the statistics would be if your hotel developed a plan for your property photography.
When browsing for accomodations people generally look at the hotel name, images, price, and location. This means you have the opportunity to impress them with photos before they read any reviews.
How do your hotel photos really look?
Chains and luxury hotels know the value of great photography when it comes to converting lookers into bookers. These hotels also understand their guests. They understand that a lot of travelers want breakfast included in the price of their stay. They know that their guests want free Wi-Fi. They know people look for amenities such as exercise rooms, pools, beaches, and hot tubs.
Successful hotel managers also know their properties like the back of their hand. They know exactly how their rooms look, and what amenities and services are available. So they show potential guests exactly what they offer. But what might be surprising is that a low-quality image does more harm than good. These hotels know it. Now so do you.
Expedia studied the way users view and react to hotel images on the Internet by identifying the types of photos which were most likely to encourage online bookings.
The ultimate finding was that it’s all about the view, with things outside the hotel often being as important as what’s inside.
Some local hotels already understand this
If you’re not one of them, learn from them. Make it a priority to have a top-notch hotel profile. Showcase your property with images that speak directly to the wants and needs of your audience. Are you a family-friendly hotel? A romantic getaway spot? How about an off-the-beaten-path stop for travellers looking for adventure?
Take a look at the photos your guests share with with everyone while on vacation (Instagram is a great research tool for this).
The kinds of photos your customers take and share online are the kinds of images they want to see. And what they take pictures of—the pool, the meal at the restaurant, the decor—is what they’re looking for in a hotel.
Show them you’ve got just the place for them with your own images.
But don’t stop there.
Make sure your hotel photographs are high quality. A resolution of at least 2000 pixels wide is best. Create a story through your imagery. Reveal the room one image at a time. Focus only on the relevant attributes— not the door number or looming hallway. Keep images consistent in style. Make sure your hotel photography is clear of filters or artistic edits. This is what takes a hotel profile and official hotel website from that’s a possibility to that’s where I want to stay.
The chains and the luxury and boutique hotels use such hotel images and build such profiles for a good reason. They generate bookings. A lot of bookings.
Evaluate all of your hotel images.
Start by removing the ones that don’t show your hotel at its best. Still not sure which hotel images to keep and which ones to get rid of? Each hotel image should make travelers want to see the next one, and the next one, until they feel the need to book with you. If your hotel images aren’t working for you, then you’re missing out on bookings. It’s as simple as that.
Here are the best ways to approach your hotel imagery according to Expedia:
Capture a pleasing view The majority of images which resulted in positive reactions from consumers were bedrooms with window views, a pleasant view, and natural light. The photos helped create an instant reaction between the consumer and the hotel. Positive feelings were also exhibited when customers saw something interesting outside of the hotel like a beach, city, or landmark.
Display unique and attractive features If your hotel has any unique features put them front and center in your photography to grab the attention of online shoppers. This way the potential guest will be quickly drawn to your hotel.
Don’t play around with perspective, balance, and distortion By far the most popular images were those that also looked authentic. Photos that appeared distorted or altered drew suspicion from shoppers because they create unrealistic representations of the property. Instead, hotels should keep it simple and try not to show too much in a single shot.
Keep images clean and sharp Neatness and precision were the qualities that garnered the best responses to hotel room images, along with light and space. Negative opinions focused on messiness and clutter, clashing colors, odd angles, or missing features such as bathroom or wardrobe.
Don’t panic.It takes time to develop a good eye and collect an appealing set of hotel photos. Even some of the larger hotels post less than appealing photos at times. But many others have used these tips to create content that gets rooms booked and their guests talking. And when you, too, follow these suggestions, your hotel’s online imagery will start to work, and benefit your hotel by creating a digital curb appeal that leaves your competitors in the dust. And, when you're ready to take your hotel's imagery to the next level, feel free to give Charm City Virtual Tours a call at 410-707-3306.