I shoot dozens of hotels every year and the focus is obviously on making the hotel look brilliant and showing up-to-date product as far as the rooms and services go.
I’d like to think I do a good job with that so that clients call me for the next shoot they need. But when I ask for a list of shots the client (hotel) needs, it is very rare for them to include places outside the hotel in the surrounding area on the shot list. I find that strange because a hotel is very often in a certain location because of what is nearby.
That might be a glorious beach or resort town or it might be a university or an airport. It may even be a collection of theme parks or a shopping mall. Whatever it is people want to know how far away it is, but they probably also want to see content about that attraction. I am amazed at how so many hotel web sites just show images of the hotel and nothing of the surrounding area or local attractions. I’m not sure whether people book the hotel because of the destination or the destination because of the hotel. But whichever comes first, does it not make sense to try and sell your hotel by leveraging the benefits that already exist in the surrounding area?
Beyond the Obvious
Because I live close to Orlando and shoot many hotels in the area, obviously I see a lot of hotels promoting themselves being close to the big attractions such as Disney and Universal studios. So without much thought hotels will throw up a few stock images (usually out of date) of roller coasters etc.
I feel hotels that do that are missing the point and a huge opportunity. I may even go as far as to say they are insulting the intelligence of their potential clients. If I lived far away and was planning a trip to Disney and went online to look at hotels in the area I need to know how far they are from the attractions and a list of attractions. I would also get more than enough info about the attractions from the attractions official web site. But what if I were in the process of choosing between destinations? Similar destinations. I may simply want a beach holiday somewhere warm and can’t decide between Barbados, Antigua or Cuba. Or I may want a City Break, but not too fussed about whether it’s New York, Boston or Washington.
Time to “Get Local”
In this World of coffee shops, gourmet restaurants, rich experiences, smart phones and review sites such as Yelp and Trip Advisor, don’t you think there might be some unique gems of small businesses in the local area that might help distinguish your destination from the competition? What about photographing that University entrance or local street full of boutiques, or the diner which has local characters in close by. Maybe its an updated skyline of the local city or the boats on the local river or a restaurant serving locally produced food. Maybe the food itself. Perhaps its the new surf school which just opened up along the beach or it could be the local fish market. Huge corporations invest hundreds of thousand of dollars in trying to appear small in order to connect with the customer. By having “local” experiences pictured on your web site you might just have an edge on that other destination.
If you’re doing a photo shoot in the near future you may want to think about putting aside a half day or full day to include some rich vibrant local stuff which will make your web site so rich, that yours will be the destination AND hotel of choice.