That was the topic up for discussion at a Hotel Marketing Association (HMA) event held earlier this week at The Rubens at the Palace hotel just metres from Buckingham Palace.
Giving advice to hospitality businesses were leading freelance photographer Tyson Sadlo; Ivor Peters, creative and development director at Tracc Films and Anthony Rawlins, chief executive of the firm Digital Visitor.
BigHospitality was in the audience to discover which ways businesses could harness the power of photo and video to increase traffic to their websites, drive interest in their ventures and ultimately increase revenue.
Inform, inspire, ignite
Despite extolling the sensory benefits of a strong image, Peters warned hospitality leaders to make sure they didn't rush head first into hiring a photographer or videographer before fully working out the aims and planned return on investment (ROI) of the campaign.
What naturally follows is that you fully research your options - should you take the photos or videos in-house or employ someone external? If you do the latter make sure you give them a clear brief and budget and take plenty of advice from them - after all they are the experts and they may be able to suggest innovative ideas you hadn't thought of.
On the day of the shoot make sure you have let everyone know it will be happening, allow enough time to collect all the content you want and don't allow the schedule to slip - wasted time can cost you more money.
Sadlo had plenty of ideas to inspire hospitality businesses looking to develop more photo and video - devote plenty of time for food shots - they take a while - and consider black and white shots if you want to use the images for a number of years.
Finally, when you get your content don't lose it, many professionals will charge for replacement photo and video. Perhaps of most importance - measure the impact of your campaign - through anecdotal evidence, analytics, social network shares or increased booking interest.
Sadlo works with a number of young photographers who he can suggest for clients who do not have the largest budget. However Rawlins suggested businesses which don't have the cash for bespoke photo and video should consider customer content.
Asking existing guests to upload photo and video to your own website can drive more traffic to your site and make for more influential content than corporate images.
Top 10 tips on photo and video marketing:
Click play on the slideshow below to see ten examples of good photo and video marketing which you could adopt in your business - check out the tips in full in the list under the gallery.
- Fun - Put humour or quirky elements in your photo or video to make it more popular to share on social networks.
- Preparation - Make sure you let your staff know a photo or video shoot is taking place so the venue looks at its best and if possible combine photo and video to save time.
- Simplicity - Don't over-brand your content or use too many words - simple and un-corporate are more effective approaches.
- Customer content - Ask customers to submit photos or videos of their visit - it is cheaper, very effective in selling the venue and many customers take great photos.
- Expand horizons - Consider taking photos of the venue's location - it is often the main reason people book to stay at a hotel rather than the building itself and it can be prettier than the hotel.
- USP - Staff are your biggest strength so use them in your photos or in a video documentary.
- Be brave - This photo of the InterContinental London Park Lane hotel required lengthy, time-lapse photography.
- Endorsements - If you know anyone famous, ask them to appear in your content - it can make a simple photo campaign into a good media campaign.
- Encourage sharing - If asking for customer content, encourage people to share it on social networks too - this campaign from Champneys led to a successful Facebook flash sale.
- Experience - Market the whole experience of your business - people are keen to know about more than the thread count of a bed sheet or the ingredients in a dish, they want to know what else they can do and how it will make them feel.
Thank you very much to the Hotel Marketing Association, Red Carnation Hotels, Tyson Sadlo, Ivor Peters and Anthony Rawlins for their help in setting up the audio report and for allowing use of their photographs.