As an expert in travel and tourism, you probably know that eye-catching accommodation photography holds plenty of weight when it comes to attracting guests.
But what is it about certain photos that inspire travelers to book? Are they looking for a luxurious king-size bed, plentiful outdoor space or a kitchen they can picture themselves whipping up a feast?
For many guests, photos should entice into learning more about a property or vacation rental. And since accommodations is a highly competitive industry, photos are one of the best things you can use to set you apart.
So whether you run a BnB, a handful rustic cabins or a remote wilderness lodge, you can start selling more rooms by implementing a handful of hotel photography tips.
Attractive accommodation photography can work wonders when inspiring guests to book. And if you’re just getting started, these tips will enable you to showcase your accommodations in a flattering light.
Why invest in quality photos
When trying to figure out what prospective guests want to see, imagine yourself in their shoes. Naturally, guests will have a few questions without first seeing your lodge or vacation rental.
You can help travelers to feel more comfortable and confident in booking by using images on your website that curate a good first impression.
Make a point to highlight a few features, in additional to room layout and style. Showcase perks like an a generous bathroom with a soaker tub, or uninhibited ocean views or a quiet getaway with a private fire pit.
Each guest will have their motivations for why they want to book, and your goal is to give guests enough compelling photos to be able to picture themselves at your property.
But how do you ensure your photos are doing their job?
Look at some of your top-performing web pages to see which ones are garnering the most interest from your website users. It’s important that your photos are able to drive traffic to increase website conversion.
What to feature in your accommodation photos
The best booking page design prioritizes quality photos and descriptions. Each element should support the other.
In order for a prospective guest to assess if somewhere is worth booking, they need to be able to view a variety of photos to confirm that your space is what they’re looking for.
For instance, if you describe that the room is spacious and the bed is comfortable, ensure the photos you choose support your selling points.
Provide a handful of perspectives that highlight a 360-degree view of a room. Aim to include one to two angles of each room and look for the angle that makes the room appear the most inviting.
If you have the capacity to add a few different perspectives, like shooting from one side of the room and then in the opposite direction, this can give guests a better indication of how the space is laid out.
Before you start taking photos, make your property spic and span. Remove any clutter and give surfaces a wipe so that they look brand new in your images.
Is there an optimal number of images? According to Expedia — yes — and it appears that 20 photos including interior, exterior and surrounding amenities is the ideal amount for optimal conversion.
Here’s a checklist of what to include in your photo gallery
- Bathroom size and style
- Bed size and orientation
- Access to amenities like a lounge area, workspace or nearby restaurant
- A desk or available workspace
- Additional seating or sleeping areas
- Kitchen layout and utensils
- Front entrance or lobby
- Balcony, gardens or views of surrounding area
- Gardens, patios or outdoor areas that are likely to draw guests in
- Proximity to shared spaces like a balcony, terrace or restaurant
Ultimately, you want your photos to influence a guest’s desire to click through and discover more reasons to choose your accommodations as they explore different photos of your property.
Ways to improve conversion with accommodation photos
Quality, high-converting images should indicate whether a property is clean, comfortable, and accurately described. As an accommodation provider, you’re selling the experience of a temporary home.
In order to do this well, you’ll need to convey that the place is functional, stylish and offers plenty of value to paying guests. Plenty of experience providers and property owners hire photographers to help showcase their properties in the best light.
And while it can be worth the additional investment to hire a photographer or purchase a higher-end camera, most mobile smartphones have the capacity to capture crisp images that rival professional photos.
Thankfully, you don’t need to be a professional to capture high-end photos. Sure, your photos may be more attractive with a higher-end DSLR or mirrorless camera with a wide-angle lens, but you need to use what’s available to you.
When capturing images, look for a natural light source like a window or balcony and shoot with the light behind you, illuminating the space you’re trying to highlight. And even if you’re content with the existing images, Google’s algorithm seeks fresh content, and photos are a powerful asset to selling more to guests online.
When promoting your property, post images with a minimum resolution of 1000 pixels across the long edge, optimizing for fast load times on your website. You can always take higher resolution images and compress them later without losing too much image sharpness or quality.
What attracts guests when booking online
As an accommodations provider, you’ll want to ensure photos do not impede website load times. In order to convert visitors your website flow should include photos that address possible questions travelers might have.
While guests may be curious about what a place looks like at all times of day, the most favourable light will depend on the direction of your rental lodging. You’re welcome to turn on artificial lights to showcase mood and highlight tones in the room; however, most prospective guests prefer natural lighting.
Naturally, a prospective customer is more likely to trust an accommodation provider that shows bright, clear and well-lit photos. This is part of the reason why hiring an experienced photographer can take your listing to the next level.
How images convert lookers into bookers
An Expedia study has shown that good images help sell rooms. It’s a cliché to say “a picture is worth a thousand words”, but in this case it’s true; online shoppers form different opinions of lodging based on the accommodation’s photo selection.
The Expedia study revealed the amount and types of images customers preferred to see. One of the most important images to include, as it turns out, is a “room with a view”; with guests seeking rooms with windows that overlooked attractive scenes, like beaches or gardens.
Travelers tend to prefer images that use natural light as much as possible (which ties in well with emphasizing good window views). According to the study, images which showed off the unique features of the property were also highly rated.
The value of good accommodation photos
Your photos should make every effort to paint a complete picture for your guests. Travelers scan through accommodation photos to see the main space, photos of the bathrooms, as well as any “secondary spaces” like restaurants or terraces.
Did you know that Expedia gives a photo score to every listing?
The importance of high-quality photos significantly influences your listing’s overall ranking. And higher rankings lead to populating higher in search results.
As an example of an accommodations provider that curates a feeling with their images is the Woods on Pender. Not only do they showcase their completely renovated Airstream trailers and modern wooden hot tubs surrounded by nature, but they have a restaurant and breakfast food truck nearby as well. Images on their cabins and room rentals highlight the specific space while also featuring the wide array of onsite amenities.
For those seeking unique accommodation — especially when there are plenty of options to choose from — having access to an assortment of photos gives guests the confidence to book online.
Capturing quality photos with the right camera lens
Photos effectively act as the gateway for guests to picture themselves enjoying their experience.
Images distorted by fisheye lenses or odd angles evoke a highly negative response. Understandably, guests are more likely to view these types of with suspicion, since it can seem like the accommodations provider had something to hide when they used these techniques.
What should you take away from the results of the Expedia study?
Well, it’s highly important to include images of your accommodation, just one shot of the main features simply isn’t enough; travelers are effectively looking for a temporary home when they stay with you, and they want to get a feel for the atmosphere.
The human eye is the equivalent of a 35mm lens. As a result, any image captured with this vantage point, or similar to it, will match what guests expect in real life. Instead, stick with a maximum wide-angle lens of 24mm. And make a point to use plenty of natural light whether it’s with a professional camera or your smartphone.
Ultimately, the photos you choose to promote your vacation rental should delight travelers and avoid giving guests any surprises once they commit to making a booking.
There’s a reason why travelers value quality photos so much. As an accommodations provider, your photos should be captivating, clear and crisp, so that they convey trust among your audience.
While a smartphone can work to provide you with some photos; investing in a professional photographer who knows how to compose shots will help make your property’s images stand out.
Be sure to use your images on listings pages, like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google Places, social media and your website for maximum effect.