When travelers are looking for a hotel, we know that they look at multiple booking websites and many different properties. But what is the most important information they consider? Many people lean toward the brands they know and price is often a factor, but past that, research shows that hotel photography is among the most important considerations when people are deliberating which hotel to book. Images give consumers a quick glimpse at the property’s condition, style, configuration, and more, making them a top factor when travelers are choosing a property.
In a Google-commissioned study, it was found that nearly 70% of respondents said that they use online sources as part of their early research. The overwhelming majority of respondents consider multiple brands and are unclear about differences in brands during their search. Furthermore, this and additional studies have found that brand loyalty and loyalty program influence is declining. This is a prime time for hotel marketers to grab travelers’ attention.
The Cornell School of Hotel Administration Center for Hospitality Research studied eye-tracking during the two stages of decision making. During the first “browsing” stage, consumers looked at between 7 and 100 hotels and generally focused on the hotels’ name, ratings, images and price. However, during the next “deliberation” phase, participants had chosen between one and seven hotels for inclusion in their “consideration set.” During this phase, “visual behavior changed substantially,” and “participants fixated most on images.” And, images provided by the hotel company were sought out more than photos provided by other travelers.
In the same study, participants who reported that physical appearance of a property was highly important fixated longer on images. Furthermore, hotel photography was notable regardless of participants’ previously stated perceptions of importance:
During deliberation, however, an interesting pattern emerged for fixations on images. Regardless of how participants rated the importance of the physical appearance of a hotel property, the average number of fixations on images for each hotel viewed remained high relative to all other content.
This study concludes that hotel marketing managers must be aware of which factors travelers include in their consideration set, and how they use that information.
A hotel manager may not have control over certain pieces of information such as the hotel’s name, but can certainly influence the way that information which is within management’s control (e.g., images) are presented.
TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, surveyed their users and found photos are the number one factor that drives engagement on hotel or B&B pages. It explains that photos are essential and lead to more potential bookings, and the more photos the better.
Properties with at least one photo had a 225% increase in the likelihood of booking enquiry (compared to properties with no photos); properties with over 100 photos saw a 238 percent increase.
Clearly, providing images is vital in hotel marketing efforts. It seems to go without saying that quality hotel photography would be more impactful and significant in persuading travelers to book a particular hotel and should be an integral part of your marketing plan.
Brad Anderson is the founder and owner of Architectural Photography, Inc., and has been an architectural photographer for the commercial and hospitality industries for more than 25 years. His passion for lighting design and creative composition help to create impactful images. Each images pulls viewers into the space they hope to stay in. Every client receives a distinctive and impactful hospitality portfolio that sets them apart from the competition. For more information, please visit: ArchitecturalPhotographyInc.com or call 888-788-5554.