What kind of photographs would make you want to stay at a hotel? Clear, to-the-point pictures displaying the hotel and its grounds? Or pictures of experiences? Natural shots of people using and enjoying the hotel?
The first option does a nice, efficient job of showing off your hotel. But the second goes a step further. Pictures of experiences have the power to capture the essence of your hotel, breathing life into its empty shell. As beautiful as that empty shell might be, people will be more likely to connect with it on an emotional level if the photographs engage them with a story.
The second approach was a clear fit when we came to designing the website for our client Soneva. They wanted the design to align with and enhance the brand’s identity as an ethical, carefree, intimate resort where guests kick off their shoes and discover authentic, personal experiences. A resort that stirs the senses.
Not only would the photos have to take centre stage of the site’s design, they would have to tell the story of Soneva’s one-of-a-kind lifestyle. Forget that beautiful foyer shot, artificially lit rooms or close ups of champagne glasses chinking in the sunlight. These photos had to be alive.
The two photographers on board were working to very clear briefs. World-renowned photographer, Herbert Ypma, aimed to ‘create experiences’ through his photos, showing off the landscape and architecture through the people using them.
For example, stunning photos like the above yoga shot that create a sense of place while displaying the hotel’s quirky activities.
Or relaxed, genuine pictures like this, free of awkward poses and unnervingly expressive smiles.
Meanwhile award-winning photographer Cat V was asked to find people, discover their stories and take their pictures. This would not only bring us face-to-face with people enjoying the hotel’s experiences, but would illustrate just how integral the local people are to the hotel’s community.
Why display a plate of food when you can show its creation through the hotel’s chef at work? Especially when Khun Noek’s unique character and knowledge is such an integral part of the resort.
Or why not replace a water sports shot with a picture of Khun Buoy the instructor hanging out with his family? There is no better way to translate the resort’s authentic and genuine values.
We further enhanced the site’s photography with evocative and interactive captions on each picture allowing you to delve deeper into the story behind each shot.
Clicking on the plus sign reveals that Khun Buoy and his family have worked as fishermen on the island for generations. It is his unique experience of the local waters that make him the perfect water sports instructor for a hotel as unique as Soneva.
It was equally essential that the picture layouts made the most of the photography from large rolling slideshows at the top of key pages to unique templates like the one above. This ‘scrapbook’ effect makes it seem as if the pictures have been scattered in the sand by hand, complimenting the authentic nature of the photographs themselves.
The power of hotel imagery should never be underestimated. Whether you want to use straightforward shots or images that tell a story – the photography, their layouts and enhancements must be created in harmony and with the brand in mind at every step of the way. If one element is missing the effect may be lost entirely.
The Soneva site was launched in July.