Snap’s Got the Power

Wednesday 10th May 2017

Getting the imagery right on a website is vital. But why is the humble photograph still holding the power?

 

The importance of imagery for hotels can’t be overemphasised. With high-resolution displays such as Apple’s retina devices now prevalent, hoteliers need to ensure images used on their website are suitable for high definition screens if they want to do full justice to their offering.

Retina displays work by doubling the number of pixels presented so that a traditional one pixel line is represented by two instead. Because of the double density of pixels, users are unable to see individual pixels at normal viewing distances, which means the result is super-sharp imagery.

Apple isn’t the only one working with high DPI (dots per inch) displays, other manufacturers are catching up with the concept, introducing their own versions of highly detailed visual displays. What this means for hoteliers is that prospective guests are increasingly likely to view your website on a high-resolution device.

Why should hotels care? 

One of the key elements of selling your hotel is your imagery. The first thing that a guest will take into account when looking to book is how your hotel looks and – if they’re yet to visit – it will be the pictures on your hotel website that they use to gauge this.

If you continue to use images that aren’t suitable for Retina style devices the result will be a negative visual impact on your website. Pictures that might have looked fine on an older desktop PC or a laptop will suffer when scaled up to work on the large format devices. Scaling up essentially doubles the number of pixels used to display the image, which means detail will be lost whilst also causing a ‘fuzzy’ effect. With such importance placed on appealing visuals, you really can’t afford to be penalised.

If your digital marketing agency is any good, then they’ll be geared up to handle the challenge of a retina device, and able to utilise responsive web design and asset management systems such as Suitcase, to ensure a website that looks good and performs well on any device.

The hospitality industry is seeing a shift to websites featuring large, high-resolution images with a shift towards visual storytelling. With rivals doing it, it’s important that your hotel keeps up.

It's an old saying, but a picture really does say a thousand words. On average opinions are formed within eight seconds, so it's vitally important to portray your hotel through quality professional photography.

Mark Reed, Creative Director, Journey

Attention spans have dipped over time with an average first opinion formed within eight seconds. Such a short time frame means that reaching prospective guests with plain text is an increasingly infeasible option. You need photos, videos, and virtual tours to properly amplify your hotel’s story online and make the necessary impact. In fact, studies suggest that 90% of all information that gets transmitted to our brains is visual, meaning that if you really want to seize hold of a prospective guest’s attention, then the necessary visual appeal is essential.

This visual trend is becoming increasingly common. Look at social media for instance – almost all of the most popular platforms have moved towards a stronger visual approach in the past few years because they understand the potential of photos and videos on their growth. Even LinkedIn has started including cover pictures to help tell your ‘story’.

So, how should you be using imagery on your website?

High quality images

Greet users with large, high quality images. This is the first thing that makes an impact on any potential guest so they need to carry the necessary weight. However, stick to static images rather than slideshows as single images are proven to enhance conversion rates.

If you haven’t had a professional photo shoot then organise one. Images sell. They are what initially engage prospective guests into spending more time on your website, and ultimately make a booking. Humans process visuals 60,000 times faster than text and on a subconscious level, people prefer to interact with visuals over plain text.

Tell a story

Engage with prospective guests through visual story telling. Using compelling visual content to tell or extend your story sparks emotion in your audience; it’s that emotion that inspires trust and loyalty.

With shorter attention spans, everything needs to be as immediate as possible. Studies show blog posts with visuals drive up to 180% more engagement than those without, so it’s certainly not something you can afford to overlook. Visuals will draw people in, and if their impact is sufficient, they will decide to go on and read the text.

Create a gallery

When any prospective guest lands on your website, the first thing they want to know is ‘what does it look like?’. It’s a natural train of thought for anyone looking for a place to stay. Make it easy for them to envisage, provide a gallery of your most attractive elements. Don’t just include exterior shots; show the bedrooms, bathrooms, restaurant, bar and so on. This is a fantastic way to quickly show guests why they should be staying in your hotel over the competition, and removes the possibility of frustration or guests having to second-guess what certain areas of your hotel look like.

Aim to use professional photography where possible, however you can supplement professional photos with user-curated content via social media platforms such as Instagram, with the added bonus that encouraging social image content helps to spread awareness of your hotel.

Portray your hotel in the best light

Make sure any images you use accurately portray your hotel in its best light. You have the power to pick and choose the photos that are uploaded to your online gallery and homepage, meaning you can afford to be fussy. Don’t simply upload every photo of your hotel and its facilities that you have; be selective.

Transforming your website content into appealing and persuasive stories can be a challenge, but the best way to start is to keep it simple.

Validity is also worth bearing in mind. Don’t resort to stock images that misrepresent your hotel. You need to ensure that your guests are given a fair and accurate depiction of what you have to offer. Any deception will be swiftly exposed with the help of social media and review sites such as TripAdvisor. Duplicitous imagery isn’t worth the possible damage to your reputation!