NB: This is a guest article by Martin Soler, marketing director of World Independent Hotels Promotion (WIHP).
Ask a seasoned salesman what finally drove the sale. Indeed, analyse TV and print commercials that work to find the common driving point that generated the sale.
In almost every case you will see that emotion was the driver.
Why does celebrity endorsement work? How does beauty affect a buying decision? The answer almost certainly always lies in emotional rapport.
The same goes for hotels. In choosing, hotel guests will try to make a rational decision based on the three Ps:
But the one factor that will affect the decision despite rational decision is emotion. With a great emotional impact hotels can pull guests beyond a purely rational decision.
A prominent ad man, Rob Leavitt once said
“People don‚Äôt ask for facts in making up their minds. They would rather have one good, soul-satisfying emotion than a dozen facts.”
This summarizes that logic quite well.
Look at the advertising revolution led by David Ogilvy in the 1950s and what was the huge change? Emotional impact.
Before then adverts were based on text and illustrations, most of which were printed in black and white. Suddenly full-page color ads with photographs were all the rage.
Then, in the 1960s, when DDB spearheaded the creative revolution, they added emotional impact through great photography plus a new type of copywriting, one that grabbed the reader’s emotions and made them re-think their habits.
Why did boutique hotels have such a success when they started in the 1980s? Because the individually decorated rooms and hotels delivered a new and exciting emotional response.
Hotels are visual, unless you’re competing solely for the lowest price on the market – so, they are about seeing, touching, sensing and experiencing comfort.
And how should hotels deliver that emotional impact, especially in the crowded world of web marketing, appealing to travellers BEFORE they make that critical booking?
Of course they can devise great tag lines and sexy copy. But nothing delivers more than photography, especially on the web.
Great photography is great emotion
To deliver a high emotional impact, a hotel must have great photography. The rooms, the surroundings, the lobby must all be shot by expert photographers that can communicate through those images the quality and experience that guests can expect.
Rooms and environment must be presented in a way that they elicit and emotional response. Just showing the environment the way the camera sees it will not elicit any response.
Here is an example of emotional impact in good photography.
Size does matter
Showing a great photo on one quarter of the screen has almost no impact. The bigger the picture the bigger the impact. And if you’re worried that it’ll push off the text from your site, ask yourself when you last booked a hotel because there was great text on the home page.
We started making full-screen hotel websites in 2008 and rapidly saw a huge difference in website conversion. Some of the pioneer hotels haven’t had their websites modified since and they still work better than most other competing sites.
See the difference in emotional impact on photo size from these two sites – both boutique hotels designed by¬†Christian Lacroix¬†and both extraordinary properties.
The first is¬†Hotel Petit Moulin:
And then¬†Hotel Bellechasse:
Speed impacts emotion
While this may not seem evident and may even seem contradictory to the prior, a slow site worsens emotional impact.
Notice how waiting in line at the airport reduces the excitement of your vacations? At first you’ll probably feel annoyed at the end you’ll be irritated, perhaps even worse.
Always worth remembering how pleased you are when you arrive at a hotel and have immediate service – that should be replicated online.
Any time lost waiting lowers the emotional impact. So you must make those huge images load incredibly fast. It’s a challenge but it’s going to affect your bottom line.
If you want to raise your average price you need a great property with great interior design and service and if you want to increase direct bookings you need a great website that will show every penny worth of ADR with a great emotional impact.
Failing to deliver that emotional impact will relegate you to price competition only – and that’s a hard battle to win.
NB:¬†This is a guest article by Martin Soler, marketing director of¬†World Independent Hotels Promotion¬†(WIHP).
NB2: Palace image via Photoserge.