Visual customer appeal

The human brain prefers images to words

A stay in a hotel is a product – it needs the same sale strategy as every other product. And in today's world, nothing will get sold without an image.

text: Agnieszka Hreczuk   //  photography: istock

Scientific research shows that visual stimuli speak to us better than text. We remember information 30 per cent better if it is supported by visual effects. We understand and remember images better and faster than words – we accept the former intuitively, and since birth, we need to learn to read the latter. Images have a stronger influence on our subconsciousness and emotions, and, as the research shows, it is they rather than common sense that affect the decisions of most of us.

Such dependency also appears in the case of selecting a hotel. If the guest knows and associates with a given hotel, then they follow loyalty and good memories. If not, the first impression matters – that is, if you are looking for a hotel on the internet: pictures. It is just pictures – apart from price and basic accessories/services (Wi-Fi, breakfast and car park) – that are the main factor influencing the decision of the individual guest. Pictures are understandable even for potential guests who do not understand or poorly understand the language in which the object is described using text. The experience of selling portals shows that a good picture results in the growth of interested clients as much as three times. We will emphasise: good pictures, not 'pictures' in general.

The aim of the pictures is to show pleasure and comfort

In the case of objects offering the same standard, pictures may be a decisive argument. Pictures of a breakfast buffet, colourful fruit, a variety of cold cuts and cheeses, guests eating at decorated tables or a smiling chef at work, have better effect on the imagination than the dry phrase 'breakfast included'. 'Car park' will also work better on the imagination of a potential guest, if they see a well-lit or shaded car park, with spaces appropriately larger for bigger cars, rather than when they see a note 'car park available for guests'. General rule: pictures of generally available spaces with people (whether they are satisfied guests or friendly employees) are more convincing than pictures of the same empty spaces. Human faces show emotions; an empty hall, kitchen or dining room may relay the impression that the hotel is not visited.

Pictures should show all spaces broadly if possible and from varying perspectives (from various places and from various distances). They should show the size and functionality of spaces, their cleanness and well-kept look. However, we should avoid extravagant shots, taken from the extreme top or bottom (so-called bird or frog perspectives) which deform the photographed object.

Staying in the hotel should be associated with a change from daily life, with exceptional quality, and with relaxation and rest (even, and maybe even particularly, if staying in the hotel is connected with a business trip not a holiday). That is why the pictures of, for example, an area of a spa, swimming pool, sauna, gym, jacuzzi or even – if such attractions are not available in the hotel – a big, comfortable bathtub in the bathroom are important.

Pictures of not only the interior but also the environment are important: both romantic and interesting views from the window (lake / castle / recognisable tourist attraction), as well as practical ones: e.g. a picture indicating the proximity of a train station. However, pictures should show the actual view rather than be a nice shot from another object that the guest is not able to see from the hotel – this will cause frustration and anger. Alternatively, pictures of neighbouring attractions should be clearly separated from the gallery with pictures of the hotel (in the album 'Worth seeing' or 'Attractions nearby').

Details are also important

Pictures of spaces are important and fundamental, but we should not forget about details – both the ones which make life easier for hotel guests: additional sockets, switches and details of accessories (lamps, dryers, bathrobes and fridges), as well as those causing nice associations: colourful details, a glass of champagne on the table, soft towels and a selection of relaxing spa cosmetics for bath and care. Small things may be sometimes important for the guest – the ones we do not mention in the text or which can be omitted. We should remember that, for example, the method of preparing cosmetics (eco cosmetics) may be important for many guests – we can also show such information in the picture. We should also pay attention to good reflection of wall and accessory colours and their texture (if the towel is soft, that is how it should look in the picture).

Professional pictures are fundamental

These days, even good smartphones offer cameras with parameters sufficient to take a technically good picture, which encourages many managers and owners to take pictures advertising their hotel on their own. This is a basic mistake. The equipment is less important; the professional eye is more essential. It is not beneficial to save on good pictures which are trademarks of the hotel – especially since it is a long-term investment. Poor lighting may optically make the interior older and greyer; a poor shot reduces the space, distorts proportions, inclines the walls and does not truly reflect the results of the time-consuming and costly design of the hotel (much more expensive than hiring a professional photographer). Appropriate lenses, reflectors, blends and filters in skilled hands give the guarantee of good, attractive and, at the same time, real pictures.

The temptation to use Photoshop and in this way improve pictures taken on one's own is often disastrous. It is rather impossible to correct in this way any errors in cropping; interference in colours or brightness easily lead to unnatural and caricature effects. Already at the moment of taking pictures, the professional photographer is trying to achieve the correct balance of whiteness, colours and exposure; they can adjust any possible defects using appropriate graphic programs on a well-calibrated monitor.

As a standard, pictures should be taken in the horizontal format and compressed before posting on the internet. Large pictures will take a long time to download on mobile units, which may discourage the client from viewing them. Contrary to pictures intended for printing (conventional prints but also for example banners), in the case of pictures intended for presentation in the internet, their resolution does not matter (dpi). Resolution of 72 dpi is sufficient, with picture width up to 1200 pixels (some agencies set the top limit even at 1000 pixels of width). Compressed picture of this size should be less than 1 MB.

Checklist:

• For publication of pictures on the internet, a resolution of 72 dpi and a width up to 1200 pixels are sufficient.

• Shots should be in the horizontal format.

• Publication of pictures with people visible requires consent of these people.

• Do not forget about details in the shots.

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