I have photographed many hotels in all sorts of locations. Some glamorous, some not so glamorous.
I have grown to discover that every hotel is like a living organism. It is just a building at the end of the day, but every time you walk into a hotel it has energy. That energy can be positive or negative. That’s the energy I describe as the “Soul” of a hotel. That soul usually comes from the staff of a hotel, whether its a Ritz Carlton, Waldorf Astoria or a Comfort Suites or even a motel. If the staff are happy, so is the hotel. So it obviously comes from good hotel management.
I’m writing about this because I’ve just come off a shoot in two very luxurious and glamorous hotels on two very different Caribbean Islands. I also got to spend some time with the management and the man who runs both properties and looks after all the details. James Lane runs both Galley Bay in Antigua and Palm Island in the Grenadines. James is very aware of the effect his staff have on the guests and he has a good understanding of social media and what an impact Twitter and Facebook has on his hotel sales and marketing mission. Both hotels have a very high “repeater” rate, more than 40%. Guests keep coming back year after year. Some even know the staff so well they bring gifts for them and greet them on first name terms with hugs. So it comes as no surpris that a big part of my shoot this time involved capturing the staff in their environment with their signature smiles. What better way to keep the guests commenting on Facebook?
I am aware that with these hotels in the Islands that the pool of employees is smaller and it’s more likely that the staff will stay at a hotel longer than perhaps a hotel on the mainland in the 7US in bigger cities such as Miami, New York or Las Vegas. However, for hotels on these unique Islands in the Caribbean, it is a huge asset and should be part of the hotel photography list. Yes you can snap staff with the sales manager’s phone or camera, but when you get a photographer in to shoot the rooms, consider adding a few hours to get your biggest asset photographed properly. Ocean Two in Barbados, another one of my clients also saw the importance of this soon after they opened and it probably has something to do with their fast rise to be a Trip Advisor Travelers Choice Winner for 2013.
Next time you enter a hotel to check-in, be aware of the initial atmosphere and see if you can detect the “soul” of the hotel.