December 09, 2022
By Cvent

Maybe you’re running out of hotel photography ideas, or you’re not sure what your photo strategy is anymore. Or maybe you never had one in the first place and want to start creating high-quality images for your properties.

No matter what brought you here, if you’ve got questions about your hotel photography ideas then we’ve got answers. In this deep dive, we discuss what about hotel photography makes potential guests and event planners race to book your space. Keep reading to learn more about the number one element you need to succeed, what photo strategy is best for your brand, and real examples of photography from hospitality brands that will inspire your own hotel photography ideas.  

When it comes to successful hotel photography ideas, quality makes or breaks your success

If you want to make sure your photos are better than the competition it’s not enough to use a nice camera. Cvent spoke to Briana Parks, a professional photographer based in California, about what makes the difference between high and low-quality images for hotel marketing.

“What makes a photo high quality for marketing purposes comes down to only two things: composition and light,” said Parks. “Most people are instantly more attracted to a photo that follows the rule of thirds. This rule could apply to any aspect of photography, including hotel photography. Having a more simplistic layout and space is much more appealing to look at than
something that is cluttered.”

In other words, consider which setups and angles make your room shine the most. It may not be the ones you currently use—and that’s okay! It’s all about what makes the photo pop.

“Lastly, light is a huge one,” advises Parks. “Nobody wants to stay in a space that looks depressing. Be sure to use lots of natural light and bright colors like white that will truly pop and stand out to people.” Whether it’s sunny or moody, knowing which lighting is best for your goals in the space makes all the difference.

How to create (or refresh) your strategy for hotel photography ideas

Start by talking to your internal teams. Having a good understanding of your overall marketing goals for the year coupled with detailed personas or information on the sales demographic of your top guests is essential. Be sure to speak to a group sales representative about brand identity and how it can be interpreted based on your current hotel photography ideas.

Next, evaluate your current hotel photography ideas. What needs to be updated or improved? What still aligns with your current goals? You may find that there are a lot of images worth keeping!

And don’t forget editing. You may have some older photos that only need a little extra color correction to make them really shine.

Hotel photography ideas that will make your property the #1 choice for prospective guests and event planners

1. Prioritise variety

One of the most important factors that hotel owners and planners should consider when it comes to their hotel photography ideas is to have a variety of images from as few shoots as possible. This shows off the space's versatility and makes it look like it can be used for various events and client types.

For instance, let’s say you're advertising a conference room rental space. Be sure to include images of the space by itself, during a business meeting, in a class or group study session, and during an informal corporate party. This will cover all of the venue’s potential uses and spark the imaginations of event planners and potential guests.

And when we say variety, we mean variety. That means capturing every space—from the rooms to the pool to the hallways—from every angle.

2. Address weather concerns

Got an outdoor venue that sees all four seasons or hosts evening events? Then why not include shots of your weather-proofing elements in your hotel photography ideas?

This can include everything from your portable gas heaters to clear deck covers. It’s one thing to read about rain or shine solutions and another to actually see what it will look like all set up. Event planners and guests alike will appreciate the visuals as they try to picture their gathering in your space.

3. Source existing images

Aside from booking your own photographer, hotels can also use the images taken by event photographers who have worked at gatherings in your space. These professionals will be happy to license their work. Plus, their photos will give potential customers a candid peek into what the space looks like from an outside perspective.

Not only does this build trust, but it may also save you time and money on creating your own dedicated shoot.

Pro tip: Start by sourcing images from events put on by customers that represent your ideal audience.

4. Prepare well

Whether this is your first or fiftieth hotel photoshoot, preparing well for it will ensure that you get everything you need out of the investment and more. At a minimum, you should present your photographer with each of the following ahead of your shoot:

Shot list. A shot list is like a grocery list of what you need to get from your shoot. You can write it out on paper. But we recommend from experience that it’s best to include example images of angles and setups you’d like to see represented. Take these snapshots with your phone and add them to a document with the rest of your shot list.
Hotel marketing and sales goals. Make sure you clearly communicate to your photographer how these photos will serve your hotel marketing and sales goals. They might have suggestions for set decor or layout based on these. But even if they don’t, it’s a good thing for them to keep in the back of their mind when working.
Related images produced by competitors. Gather images of an equivalent space from your competitors. Look into what works, what doesn’t, and how your hotel is different from these images. Work to highlight your space in a way that fills the value gap of these collected images.
List of all lighting options and props. Your photographer may want to know what they have access to when creating the look of the space. A professional prop stylist is a great person to bring into this conversation. But at a minimum, we recommend having portable lighting solutions and aesthetic props related to the use of the space on hand during the shoot.
Room layout. Your photographer will need to get a sense of the space and its dimensions to create depth, determine styling options, and choose angles ahead of the shoot date. Use a tool like Social Tables to create an accurate and scalable 3D diagram of the room or space. You can also use this tool to determine the furniture layout options using exact measurements.
Moodboard. Nail down what colours, types of lighting, and general vibe you’d like to see in your hotel photoshoot with a mood board. Pinterest and Canva are great tools for this. Remember to pull images from your hotel photographer’s digital portfolio that closely resemble what you’d like to see in your own pictures.

5. Hire talent

There’s a reason why professional modeling is a career. If you plan to bring real humans into your shoot, make sure they are experienced in this type of photography. Not sure where to hire models? Contact a local agency, find a micro-influencer in a related travel niche, or ask your photographer for recommendations.

6. Collaborate with housekeeping

Before a property is photographed for marketing purposes, it's important that the hotel's rooms and spaces are clean. Make sure that the pillows are in good condition, the beds are free of wrinkles, and the corners are tight. You can also get their opinion on items such as draperies, linens, and other potential props. Double-check to see if there are other design options in storage or currently being laundered and have your team prepare these items accordingly ahead of the big shoot day.

3 examples of exceptional hotel photography ideas

We’ve collected our favorite examples of photography ideas from hotels that have won prestigious awards from the Hotel Marketing Association and the Muse Hotel Awards. Use these to inspire your own hotel photography ideas and mood boards.

As you look through, pay special attention to the colours, composition, lighting, and substance in each one. What does it make you feel? How is it similar to or different from what you’ve seen before? It’s important to consider these questions as you continue to gather and organise your own hotel photography ideas.

1. The Royal Crescent Hotel

This elegant hotel and spa knows a thing or two about luxurious hotel photography ideas. In an image on Instagram, they’ve chosen to highlight their beautiful garden pathway. Each element of the photo tells the story of what this hotel values. From a curved stone walkway and lavender sprigs that represent tranquility to an ivy-covered building representing old school charm, this single image says a lot about the brand.

Also, we can’t help but mention the other captivating photos on their website of—you’ll never guess this—hedgehogs. Their website features three “Wild Guests”, Beatrix, Jane, and Daphne, who currently live in the gorgeous garden you see pictured above. Talk about creative hotel photography ideas!

2. Five Elements Retreat Bali

Bali will always be beautiful. That's why it’s hard to create hotel photography ideas that stand out from the crowd if you run a property in this area. Five Elements Retreat was able to pull it off with some masterful lighting choices. To illustrate what we mean we’ve chosen two images from suites listed on their website to compare.

In the River View Pool Suite, a bathtub made out of volcanic stone is the highlight. To emphasize the relaxing qualities of the space, the photographer chose soft, morning light that cascades from the top of the frame, almost as if the sun is shining on this spot and this spot only. Bright purple petals also make the bath the central focus of this otherwise earth-toned scene. And because it focuses on a single element of the room, this hotel photography idea is intimate, serene, and private.

Meanwhile, over in the One Bedroom Riverfront Suites, the photographer is telling a distinctly different but equally beautiful story. The primary image features the entire space instead of one element which emphasizes the value of the space as a whole. While the individual components are all stunning, we get the sense that the experience of the entire suite’s features put together is the real draw.

And don’t overlook the lighting! While the volcanic tub was bathed in fresh, morning light and made us crave a good Pilates and green juice session, the sunset glow in this image combined with the candles lining the deck gets us ready to wind down from the day.

If we had to put a single word to the main benefits of each room type into a single word based on these photos alone, it would be easy to distill the first one down to “wellness” and the second to “romance”.

3. The Fish Hotel

Ever wanted to live in a cabin in the woods completely away from other people but with luxury amenities at your fingertips? The Fish Hotel has managed to capture that daydream into a single hero image on their website homepage.

They feature the big picture: one stylish, modern cabin surrounded by lush woods and its own private road. Although the Fish Hotel offers many cabins on its many acres of land, this hotel photography idea highlights what guests want most: to be left alone.

Even the location of the image is strategic. While most hotels will feature a room, amenity, or view as their big landing page image, this brand knows that luxury is easy to find but peace is not. Their marketing team fully understands that if you hook your website visitors in with your primary benefit, you can only continue to wow them with images of luxurious rooms, delicious foods, and interesting local creatures later on.

Overall, this is a great lesson in considering where each of your hotel photography ideas will live in your marketing channels.

Up next: want to share amazing photos on your brand’s social media page? Then make sure you check out our guide to Instagram marketing for hotels and put your newfound hotel photography knowledge to work!



Cvent is a leading meetings, events, and hospitality technology provider with more than 4,500 employees and nearly 21,000 customers worldwide.
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