3 Must-try Tips for Better Hotel Images on a Budget

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The time has come for better hotel images. Perhaps the images you have are outdated or inconsistent, or perhaps they just don’t do justice to your hotel. You could decide that expense is no object, and reach deep into your coffers to finance a professional photo shoot. You would expect the outcome to be spectacular—immaculately staged, perfectly lit shots of every picturesque corner.

It would also be staggeringly expensive.

But for many hoteliers, expense is very much an issue. There might not be the budget to hire a photographer to render professional-quality photos, no matter how indispensable they are to a hotel’s online image (and trust us, they are indispensable). Which is why it is so important—and thankfully, feasible—to find alternative, affordable means to those same high-quality images. So the question is, how do you choose images for your hotel that inspire guest to book without breaking the bank?

Below you’ll find three creative and cost-effective ways to acquire better hotel images.

Tip # 1 Solicit user content

Take advantage of what might already be available to you—and free. If you hold events at your property for which hosts have hired a photographer, such as weddings and conferences, it’s likely that these people are in possession of some incredible shots of your hotel too. So why not reach out to them? Thank these guests for choosing your location for their event, and tell them how much you would love to showcase their event on your website and social media channels. Once you take this approach, you’ll notice that most guests are only too happy to share their images with you.

When using images from others, just make sure to have them sign a consent form. There are many templates available online; simply select one and adapt it for your own hotel.

You can also encourage guests to share their holiday photos on social media platforms, the benefit of which is twofold. Not only will potential guests see images of people enjoying their stay at your hotel, which can greatly influence future purchasing decisions, the photo-sharing will also help keep your social media presence current and active—a task you would otherwise have to do yourself.

Display signs at your front desk and in your restaurant encouraging guests to post their photos. You can also add a note in your email signature doing the same. Some establishments even offer exclusive deals to those guests who do post photos, something like: “Share your experience at our hotel on Facebook and have a pint on us!” You’d be amazed at how well this tactic works.

Tip # 2 Hire photography students

Photography students are passionate about their craft, on the cutting edge of the latest techniques, and eager to prove their talent. They’re also looking for ways to refine their skills, build their portfolios, and if possible, earn a bit of income. All this makes students a perfect match for hoteliers in need of better hotel images that are still affordable or even free.

To find a good photography student, look into photography and art institutions in your area. Contact the administration and ask how you can place a job, internship, or volunteer position posting for students to see. You can also visit social media channels and websites with a classified section, such as Gumtree (UK), Linkedin, Craigslist, and Kijiji. Make the project an exciting one for up-and-coming talent by describing how unique and varied photos of your hotel can help distinguish a portfolio, and what kind of professional exposure the photographer will get. Just be sure to request to see a portfolio before selecting the best candidate, so that you can gauge the breadth and quality of their current work.

Though the most attractive benefit of taking hotel photos is the invaluable professional experience it provides, if you can offer students some money or even gift cards, then by all means, do so.

Tip # 3 Barter

The opportunity to increase professional exposure and build a more robust portfolio is attractive not only to students; there are highly skilled photographers looking to do the same. Though many will only take on monetarily compensated work, others are willing to barter their services for a location where they can stage a series of artistic photographs that tell a story (called “editorial photography” in the business).

This does not apply exclusively to hotels of great renown and grandeur; it could work just as well for more modest hotels and motels. It’s all about how you pitch your property to photographers. Play up the advantages your space offers: If it’s a retro motel, advertise its edge and the contrast it provides to fashion photography. Position it as the ideal backdrop for a unique photo shoot, and offer the use of the space for free if the photographer will provide you with better hotel images in exchange. You could even feature their editorial series on your website and social media channels, making your hotel that much more interesting to potential travellers.

Feel free to sweeten the deal even further by throwing in a complimentary stay for two, dinners, or whatever else you can in exchange for better hotel images.

Of course, remuneration is always a good idea, and if you can pay photographers even a stipend it will go a long way towards finding a good one. But you can also entice them by offering a partnership in which your hotel benefits from their time and talent, and they from your hotel’s services and photographic appeal.

Whatever your approach to better hotel images on a budget, the end result should be a set of edited, clean, crisp, and clear images of the rooms and amenities that you can use on your website, bookings channels, OTAs, and metasearch profiles.

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