Understanding Hotel Images: How to Share Your Visual Story

Research tells us that a person’s interest in pictures isn’t coincidence. We’re hard-wired to process visuals faster and more easily than text. According to MDG Advertising, content with images gains 94% more total views than non-visual content.

Choosing the right image can do more than just show off your property, it can actually cause travel shoppers to feel something – emotional responses like this can impact our behavior, in this case, inspiring a consumer to book. Musician David Byrne says, “That’s the thing about pictures: they seduce you.”

The Role of Your Hotel Images

Images are particularly useful during the initial stages of hotel research because they provide an easy, quick way for the travel shopper to make an initial evaluation of the property. They help answer the question – is this a hotel I would stay at? Particularly useful during early stages of hotel research, photos provide an easy way for valuation of the hotel. The job of your images is to compel the shopper to say “I would like to stay there, let’s put it on the list of options.” Your goal here is to produce photos that ‘wow’ or inspire the shopper with differentiating details.

Easily accessible still images of your hotel are a great way to capture a moment in time that evokes an emotional reaction. When browsing through photos, consumers are attracted to clear, crisp visuals that they can personally identify with.

When amplifying an experience at your property, think outside of the [square pants] box like the Nickelodeon hotel; they took a pool-side hang-out and displayed a fun-filled story that appeals to the whole clan.  Just look at this photo and you can feel the warm sunshine, refreshing water, and hear the kid’s laughter! It’s an irresistible story wrapped up in one simple still image.

Nickelodeon Suites Resort

How Pictures Benefit Your Story

The most memorable stories online are accompanied by images that highlight your features. Sharing a visual story will emphasize your hotel’s message in a way that will be remembered by guests throughout their shopping journey.

Many major travel sites and OTAs have research that demonstrates just how important images are. TripAdvisor published a report that stated properties with more than 20 photos get 150% more engagement.

How about this fact? Doubling a hotel’s online pictures can result in a 4.5% take-up and $3.50 higher ADR, while providing a full property description (as opposed to a partial one) can result in a 5% take-up and $3 higher ADR (Expedia).

It’s important to consider that today’s hotel guest is looking for authenticity when shopping for a place to stay. The prevalence of reviews sites makes it easy for them to see if your hotel images on your website and those distributed to other travel sites, match those being posted by your guests.  Set customer expectations appropriately to avoid the risk of generating customer complaints and distrust.

Quality Guidelines for Hotel Images

  • Upload the highest quality images available.
    • Images greater than 2048 pixels on the longest side will provide an optimal full-screen viewing experience and are preferred by major travel websites
    • Image sizes lower than 1024 pixels are considered of poor quality by the majority of travel websites and may not be accepted
    • Expedia only: Prefers 2800 pixels on the longest side and considers any images below 2048 pixels on the largest side as poor quality
  • An aspect ratio of 16:9 is ideal as it’s the most common aspect ratio for TVs, computer monitors and smartphones or tablets turned sideways. This landscape orientation is preferred because the image will occupy the entire screen. If a vertical orientation is used, then the viewing device will surround the image with “white space” when image is rendered.
  • File Types: JPEG or JPG are best but other file types are accepted include TIF, BMP, GIF, PNG and PSD
  • Most brand guidelines prohibit the use of photos older than three years
  • Photos should:
    • Reflect your brand identity
    • Be free of debris, cables, cords, trash cans, ash trays, power lines, banners or other eye distractions
    • Be royalty-free or must be accompanied by proper credit information to be posted in the photo caption
    • Reflect the property’s current condition and amenities

Country House Inns Jacksonville



According to 2013 Leonardo research, website visitors view greater than 10 images per visit and view images from the guest room category 2 times more than the next most popular category (which is restaurants). They also consume 30% more media on smartphones over their desktops.

Based on findings from Leonardo, there is a recommended range of how many photos should be distributed by hotels:

  • 12 – 18+ for limited service properties
  • 15 – 24+ for full service properties
  • 18 – 32+ for luxury properties

Regardless of the type of hotel, use the appropriate amount of media you need to accurately convey your unique story. Include the following categories in order of consumer interest:

  1. Guest Room
  2. Restaurant
  3. Recreation/Area Attractions
  4. Lobby
  5. Maps
  6. Business Center
  7. Pool
  8. Hotel Amenities (Meeting Space, Fitness Center, etc)
  9. Exterior
  10. Bar/ Lounge

A picture is still worth a thousand words, but today’s marketer has to be creative in their use of visuals.  Add collages, guest generated photos, text overlays, captions and witty quotes.  Using best practice guidelines to adhere to quality and quantity standards, will offer potential guests the “best in show” stories that are quickly and easily found, keeping you top of mind during the shopping path to purchase.

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