By Michelle Chaplow
Why do historic hotels need new photos?
As a hotel photographer, I travel on assignments all around the globe with my crew to photograph some of the world’s most beautiful hotels.
I have been fortunate enough to photograph everything from brand new multi-million-dollar projects to heritage hotels, full of character, founded in a bygone age and yet still highly valued in today’s world. I have a very special place in my heart for historic hotels. History is created with the passage of time, it´s intangible, unlike luxury, it is something that money can´t buy.
When you walk into one of these venerable establishments, it feels different, intriguing, a world apart; you can almost savour the history in the air. You know that fascinating, world-changing events have taken place in this very space, famous people have stayed here, and it always feels like an occasion; in short, you’re hooked on historic hotels and can never have enough of them.
Why on earth would historic hotels need new photos, you may ask?
Here are 10 good reasons:
1. If you’ve got it, flaunt it
History is the ace card for luxury hotels, and as well as archive black and white prints showing the establishment’s early days and how it has changed over the years, modern day photographs are also required. Images shot today, that capture the essence of the property, will be a superb platform to promote a historic hotel right now in today’s online reservation, social media-dominated world.
Photography is the key to illustrating that a historic hotel is unique and will offer an experience like no other.
2 Online travel agent (OTAs)
Nowadays most OTA brand guidelines prohibit the use of photos that are more than three years old – this is another very important reason to update your imagery on a regular basis. Today, no one can ignore the revenue steam from the OTAs.
3 Quantity of photos
According to Expedia, just by doubling the number of your hotel’s pictures in OTAs you can boost your booking rate by 4.5%. This will allow you to increase your ADR (Average daily rate) by $3.50.
4. Press coverage
This is just one example, but it highlights the point beautifully. New York-based luxury travel blogger Kim-Marie – known as @LuxuryTravelMom, with an impressive 21,500 followers on Twitter – told me “I have dropped properties from print coverage because their image libraries were terrible”. Kim-Marie is highly influential, a key opinion-maker in the world of deluxe hotels. So by not having good visuals, you are missing out on valuable press coverage. Good imagery will help historic hotels to appear in articles carried by important travel press, with outstanding photos used large across double-page spreads – irresistibly eye-catching for readers: your potential clients.
5. New images will attract fresh interest in a historic hotel
Hotel PRs, magazine editors, lovers of historic hotels, your in-house sales department – they’re all crying out for new hotel imagery. Lucinda Lacon, Head of PR and Communications at Classic Portfolio, representing the
finest hotels and travel lodges in South Africa, says: “If I have a good visual, I can sell the story: if there is no photo, it has to be an amazing story to sell it .” “Good photos make my job a dream.”
6. Obvious as it may sound, quality hotels need quality photos
With a good photo, you can tell a good story; with a bad photo, it´s all apologies and excuses. I cannot tell you how many five-star hotel managers have said to me, you must visit us and passed me their card; then they tell me their hotel is much better than it appears in the photos. What a ridiculous situation to be in. A quality historic hotel deserves quality photography.
7. Highlight photos of a property’s history
Work even harder at highlighting photos of your history, to help sell more room nights. Consumers crave those fascinating anecdotes, such as a photo of the legendary art deco statue of Kasper the Cat at the Savoy in London, used as the 14th guest when there are 13 diners; he features in children’s books by Michael Morpurgo and even has a restaurant at the hotel named after him. The famous Sacher torte at the Hotel Sacher in Vienna; afternoon tea in the Authors’ Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok; the Beverley Hills Hotel in LA, known for its plush bungalows hosting extramarital dalliances of Hollywood superstars, and also itself an iconic film location.
8. Visual storytelling
A picture is worth 1000 words and top quality photography will visually tell your story – everything from the smiles of the doorman to the sunsets.
9. Social Media
Photos in Social Media consistently earn more retweets and likes than plain text. One of the best uses I have seen of imagery on Facebook, for example, is by a Historic Hotels Worldwide member – The Alvear Palace, a landmark luxury hotel in Buenos Aires. This hotel created a buzz around the images I shot for them, some of which received literally hundreds of likes. They added interesting anecdotes about everything from their butler service to their world-renowned brunch.
10. Paying it forward
New photos of a hotel will themselves become historic documents in years to come, and the future guardian of the specific hotel property will be thrilled to have them. Photography is both a present day and future investment.
We have at least 10 reasons why OLD hotels need NEW Photos
Customers crave visual stories, so they can dream about staying in hotel whose history is part of the experience, a rich heritage offering an individual selling point which should be taken full advantage of when drawing visitors.
So be sure to increase the revenue for your heritage hotel website with strong visuals that are updated frequently, showing off your property in its best possible light and wooing potential guests with those stunning, inspiring images.