ITB 2024 Special Reporting
Trusting Images and Intangible Emotions.
By Mila Petruk
Wednesday, 2nd November 2011
Hotels sell experience, restaurants sell meal experience and experience is all about the intangible emotions which are like the wind - you cannot touch them, but you can feel them. Always.

At the same time, hotel industry now is not only about Hilton and Marriott brand loyalty where you find chain hotels and all-the-rest-where-you-stay hotels. It's now about small unique properties, each of them delivering a different experience.

Each hotel nowadays needs to define its USP (Unique Selling Point) in order to be successful. Otherwise - boom! - you loose.

Hotel Photography is the first thing you think about when dealing with the first impression about the property. Imaginary emotions are considered the most powerful in persuading people to make decisions. This is the reason businesses use Power Point presentations for projects, schemes for operations proposals etc.

Hotels use images, because images provoke emotions. However, it is important that the quality and contents of these images provoke the exact emotions your marketing strategy is aiming at. No other variations.

Hotel photography should not be different within itself. It should carry the exact same message all the time. The emotions which vary from image to image become doubtable and increase cognitive dissonance. And cognitive dissonance is not what we want from our customers when they choose which hotel to book for their stay.

At the same time, overdelivering emotions is dangerous. Hoteliers have to describe a comprehensive story, a real story which is true-to-life and speaks for their property with the help of images. That is why, so many details are now being photographed - the door locks, the telephones, design elements in rooms, cutlery, and - finally - people.

The guest is get the feeling of the hotel when watching the pictures. It should not seem like an empty place. It's not a museum, it's a second home. It is vital to shoot the hotel during operational hours and show how it works and how customer value is created.

Still, all these aspects should not look artificial. Putting a person in a uniform he never wears at work only to make a fancy photo is not a 'win' strategy. Additionally, putting too much artificial lighting and decor also seems 'too fancy', so the potential customer already knows this is not the case in the real world. Then he assumes it is worse and simply does not go to that fancy hotel! And you invested a fortune in hotel photographs...

Finally, try to make your portfolio extensive enough to get the full impression of the hotel, but always leave something aside, so that the customer has still something to discover when he arrives. Don't overload your hotel portfolio with images.

Always remember, you deliver the exact emotions which fit your strategy. And you're not a picture gallery. You're a hotel.

Mila Petruk is a hospitality consultant and a founder of Milina Outsourcing Management (MOM) which provides consulting to hotels and restaurants including mystery guest audit, temporary staffing and training support. Being a hospitality industry enthusiast, Mila has a global insight into the developing trends of hotel and restaurant business all over the world. Having a rich international hotel work experience and an MBA from one of the reputed Swiss hotel schools, she has applied it in almost every hotel department she had worked. Contact Mila at mila.petruk@gmail.com.
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