Choosing the right hotel photography company for your hotel photo shoot will be one of the most important decisions that you make. Whether you are opening up a new location, switching brands or remodeling, professional photos help prospective guests feel comfortable with your property, even before they set foot in your door.
It takes a highly skilled and trained professional hotel photographer to deliver quality images. Making the right decision when choosing a professional photographer or company will help set your hotel apart from the competition and will lead to more bookings.
Keep the following things in mind when choosing a hotel photography company.
Are they an individual or part of a larger entity?
There’s certainly something to be said about dealing with a local person. Keeping the dollars in your city and helping promote local businesses who are also likely to be recommending your hotel, is a great thing. However, when dealing with small entities there is also higher chance problems will arise. Keep in mind that should something happen, the smaller entities are not always backed. If a family emergency came up during the middle of your shoot that you have already paid for, you might have to wait until their personal situation remedies itself. Choosing a larger organization up front that has several qualified hotel photographers is much wiser and you’re likely to not have to deal with as many stumbling blocks along the way.
Is the hotel photography company you’re choosing insured?
Choosing a company that’s insured is extremely important since you’ll have them on site while you will have guests roaming about. A 1 to 2 million dollar insurance policy should be more than enough to cover most instances. At the very least you’ll want to make sure both the photographer as well as the agency that you’re paying, is fully insured.
Are they endorsed or an approved supplier by corporate?
Working with a company that is already endorsed by your corporation goes a LONG way in ensuring you’re going to be satisfied with your photography. Most large corporations work very hard finding and vetting photography vendors that can meet or exceed their brand standards. If you belong to a larger entity make sure that you always start by asking your regional managers or opening specialists who they recommend. For those that don’t have this luxury, it never hurts to ask your potential photographer over the phone who else they’re preferred vendors for. If they have no examples, it’s likely that they’re either very new into the hotel photography business or they don’t have what it takes to service top brands.
Are you able to see some of their previous work before making a decision?
Being able to preview the hotel photography suppliers portfolio helps tremendously in the decision-making process. It’s only fair that you should be able to ask for a few samples of their latest. This should help you decide not only if they’re going to be able to meet your quality standards, but it will also help you determine if they are experienced. When looking at their work, look for things like blown out windows or fake over processed looking images. If you spot either of these deal breakers it’s a good sign you should run and not look back.
Also, look to see if their images appear to be looking up or down. An experienced hotel photographer knows to keep the camera level to help reduce distortion. Even if the image you are looking at appears to be distortion free, this poor technique could cause problems with other images. Distortion is particularly noticeable on vertical lines. If walls appear to be bowing, it is a red flag.
Another obvious thing to look for is color balance. If a white pillow has a yellow cast there is a problem. White balance is very important, and if the white areas in an image appear off, the photographer is either lacking knowledge or is lazy in their process. There are plenty of amazing photographers out there for you to choose from. Don’t settle for less and don’t accept excuses.
How long will it take before you get the service?
Finding an amazing hotel photographer and getting a good deal is great, but what good are they to you if they won’t be able to deliver your hotel photographs for thirty days or longer? The hard work, time, and energy that you spent opening up your hotel or renovating is being wasted each day you don’t have professional photos online. Be sure to ask up front when they can get to your property, and how long it will take until the images are in your hands. Time is money!
Are they in your area or will they be flying or driving someone in?
If you do happen to find a company that will service your account and you’re happy with their quality of work, you should next ask if they’ll be sending in a photographer from your area or if they’ll be sending in someone from elsewhere that will require a flight or have a long drive. If you discover it’s the latter, you should know that you’re likely the one footing the bill for that flight or long road trip. Try to find a hotel photo company that meets your quality standards and has a local representation close by. This will save you from paying huge upfront costs or heavy mileage and travel fees.
How long will the hotel photographer be on site?
Once your hotel photographer begins photographing, your staff should be available to assist in ensuring your property is pristine. You’ll need someone to walk around with your hotel photographer and make sure the breakfast area, fitness center, pool area and so on is staged and neatly organized. Your staff is likely to be fairly distracted during the photography session, but this is your chance to capture your hotel at it’s best. The last thing you want is for this process to drag on for days on end. Make sure that the hotel photography company that you choose can get in and out of your property inside of five or six hours MAX. It can become a burden on your staff and guests so be sure to also make sure your property is prepared.
Does the hotel photographer provide a list of things for you staff to address before they show up?
Will your hotel photographer be working with your staff to help make sure rooms are staged properly, or is that entirely up to you? Will they provide you and your staff with some direction as to how to prepare for your shoot? Fortunately, any legitimate hotel photographer or company well versed in hotel photography should do at least one of the two. Having even a little guidance for you and your staff goes a long way to keep costs low and your property looking great online. Make sure you don’t forget to ask this question before forking out the deposit for your hotel photography!
Do you own the images of your hotel after the work is finished?
Owning full copyright to the hotel photos that you have paid for is vital. You want to be sure you are allowed to use them as you wish down the road. Make sure that it’s clearly written in your photography contract that you own your images. Some hotel photographers out there like to sell you the images at a very low price then charge you for specific uses down the road. Don’t fall into one of these copyright traps. You own the images or bust!
Do they guarantee their work?
Lastly but most importantly we recommend that you ask about the service guarantee of the hotel photography company before paying a deposit. If their service agreement does not allow at least a thirty day review period to allow you to ask for a reshoot or request edits you should probably look elsewhere. It never hurts to come right out and ask what percentage of their shoots requires a reshoot annually. If they tell you it never happens that’s probably not true or you’re about to be their first hotel shoot!
This may seem like a lot to remember, but it can easily be broken down into three subcategories: Safety, Qualifications, and Logistics. Do you feel safe that if there were to be a serious problem at your facility involving the hotel photographer, they would have the proper insurance coverage, and do you feel your investment is protected by a solid guarantee in the event you are unhappy with the work provided? Is the hotel photographer qualified to shoot for your brand, and do they provide you with examples of their work that leave you feeling confident they will do a great job? Are you comfortable with the logistics including: the amount of time your staff and property will be occupied with the photo shoot, travel costs that may be passed on to you, and the timeframe for the work to be delivered? If these questions are satisfied in your mind, you can rest assured your investment will be well rewarded.
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