Visually merchandising to create interest and a striking impression in the minds of online travel shoppers can inspire them to choose your hotel over others.
‘A picture is worth a thousand words.’ You’ve heard this cliché many, many times before. However, with the growth of visual communication in digital marketing; this cliché takes on a greater significance than ever before. This growth, along with hotel shopping becoming dispersed across more online channels make it crucial for hotel marketers to shift their content to focus on more visual forms of merchandising on all of the web sites consumers use to shop for travel.
Visual content creates a virtual hotel experience and connection with the consumer
Your visual content acts as a signpost to bridge the gap between your hotel online and the actual guest experience on-site. Research at 3M Corporation along with Zabisco show that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. Using attractive, engaging photos and rich media of your hotel and its surrounding area creates stronger, more impressionable connections with the travel shopper.
Once a shopper has been intrigued by your visual presentation, it is important to keep them engaged by offering more. For example, The Broadmoor, 5 Star Colorado Springs Resort, does a great job with their visual story as reflected in the multi-media viewer that is displayed when a consumer clicks on the “Video & More Photos” link on their Travelocity listing.
This visual story provides the travel shopper with “The Broadmoor experience” and further detail in an easy-to-navigate and interactive manner. The tabs like Accommodations, Dining, Spa, Meetings allow the user to further explore the hotel features that interest them. Each tab is full of relevant photos and videos. This proves to be very beneficial because the shopper is captivated longer and therefore makes a stronger connection to that hotel than they would by clicking through random images with no context found on a typical hotel listing.
Multiple forms of media make an even more compelling experience
As a marketer, you want to show all that your hotel has to offer along with the benefits of staying at your hotel. There are three common types of visual media that hotels often use to tell their stories:
Photo images are particularly useful during the initial stages of hotel research. Travel shoppers look for images to get an idea of what the hotel looks like, if they’d like to stay there, and to see if it generally meets their needs as a traveler (whether the trip be for leisure or business purposes). Images are useful to communicate your hotel’s experience but, there’s more to the experience than what is within the walls of your hotel. It is effective to also display images of the destination and surrounding area along with the features and activities being offered there (i.e. spas, the beach, restaurants, shopping, attractions). This allows the traveler to plan their entire trip, while visualizing the great experience they’re hoping for.
Some hotels use virtual tours to allow potential guests the ability to get a more immersive experience and the full effect of staying at the hotel before they book. The role of virtual tours is to build confidence and visually excite the travel shopper so that they book with you over your competitor. It is ideal to showcase different room types, common areas as well as amenities to show the traveler how they align with their needs.
Videos have a great impact and resonate exceptionally well with people. This is where your hotel can really excite and inspire the travel shopper with a visual story that differentiates your property from your competitors. According to Ooyala and Ipsos, viewers are 85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a product video. If the video shows the value of your hotel and the features guests love about it in an intriguing way, you’ll leave a lasting impression and stand out in the travel shopper’s mind when it comes time for them to book.
The best, most compelling experience for the online hotel shopper is one that is truly immersive and inclusive… this will often times mean the use of all media types – photos, videos, virtual tours – along with short snippets or “snackable” pieces of text to add the necessary detail.
Amplify your visual story
As a hotel marketer, it is important to remember that travel shoppers are looking beyond your hotel’s own website. Quite often, these shoppers search online travel agencies, social media sites, review sites and destination sites as well. Because of this shopping behavior, it is imperative your visual story be available and well-presented across the web. The more carefully selected, impactful visuals you include, the more successful you will be at attracting more guests online.
How are you using visuals to tell your hotel’s story?
To learn how to craft effective hotel videos in order to attract more online travel shoppers, download this guide: How to Tell Your Hotel’s Story with Video