Before visitors read a single word of text on any page of your website, they are going to look at the images you have displayed there. In the case of hotel and bed & breakfast websites, the old adage “an image speaks a thousand worlds” is undeniably true. Images and video are the foundation of any well-designed, visually stunning website. While the written content of your site certainly matters, it is the photographs that really draw users in and inspires them to make a direct bookings.
Like it or not, we are a visually driven culture. Visual imagery accounts for a whopping 90 percent of the information that we perceive and transmit to our brains. By and large, humans prefer images over text, especially online. Just ask yourself: How many magazines have I flipped through or websites have I browsed without reading a single word of text? The answer is probably a lot. Not counting the poets and wordsmiths amongst us, most people would rather look at beautiful photographs that evoke a sense of time or place than read 500+ words of text that do the exact same thing.
It’s no different for hotel or bed & breakfast websites. 85% of visitors consider photographs deciding factors when decide whether or not to make a booking. No matter how much time you spend crafting that perfect summary of your rooms and amenities, it’s the photos that really count. Properties with at least 20 high-quality room qualities have a 5% higher conversion rate than those who don’t. In addition, photographs and video help keep your website scannable and streamlined.
Video is also an important marketing tool. You can embed a video on your home page or a special “Video” page of your site to give potential guests an even more immersive preview of your property.
- Adding a video increases the likelihood of your site appearing on the first page of Google search results by 53 times
- 80% of users will watch a video versus just 20% who read text of the same content
- People are 10 times more likely to engage with and share video content, helping your video (and website) to reach more people
Keep in mind that your site’s video shouldn’t just be a slideshow set to music. These types of videos offer very little engagement and can get boring fast. If you chose to include a video, it should be closer to a commercial than a basic slideshow. An effective video is 30 seconds long.
Odysys customer Kandahar Lodge in Whitefish, MO has included a video on their homepage
Keep it Inspirational and Aspirational
Your website, especially your homepage, should showcase fresh, high quality photos of your property and your destination. When selecting those photos, we recommend keeping it inspirational and aspirational. That’s just a fancy way of saying that your photography should inspire the visitor to stay with you and showcase the best, most appealing aspects of your property and location.
Sell Your Destination, Not Just Your Accommodations
Select photos that immediately convey to the visitor the experience they will have if they stay with you. Show couples watching the sunset from your porch, families enjoying the outdoor activities in your location, or a guest relaxing in your spa. When visitors to your website see images of your property, they are better able to visualize themselves there too.
Your Homepage “Hero” shot shouldn’t just be a boring photo of the front door to your property. Remember, you are selling your destination as well as your accommodations. Focus on stunning photography that showcase your destination and that experience that comes along with it. Think about your ideal guest and why they come to visit. If it’s to experience your city’s nightlife, feature an image of the neon lights of the nearby bar district. If people come to explore your location’s outdoor offerings, show people taking a hike or kayaking in a river. And remember to update these photos seasonally (ie. people swimming in the summer, skiing in the winter.)
Tips & Tricks for Using Images on Your Site
Though visually stunning images have the power to boost your direct bookings, low quality images can do the exact opposite. Make sure that every image on your site is clear and well shot. They shouldn’t be blurry, too small, or out-of-date. We highly recommend hiring a professional photographer to handle this, but if you do not have the resources, don’t worry. Our guide to Photography for Innkeepers will teach you all the tips & tricks you need to take professional quality photographs on your own. It covers things like framing, lighting, editing, and knowing what to shoot. Trust us, you’ll be amazed by all the things you can do on an iPhone or Android. Here are some other tips & tricks for using images on your site:
- With their permission, include images of actual people enjoying your property (but not in your rooms). Human faces draw our attention even more than landscapes or food.
- Update your photos seasonally. Have photographs of your property during fall, winter, spring, and summer and change them according to season.
- Use alt-text on images to make your website more searchable on Google
- Optimize your images so they don’t slow your website down
- Keep/update high quality photographs on your Google Business Listing, OTAs listings, TripAdvisor profile, and B&B.com as well
High quality images and video are the key to building an effective, visually stunning website. By adding imagery to your site that are both inspirational and aspirational, you will help visitors picture themselves at your property and encourage them to make a direct bookings.