Every picture tells a story which “profoundly” impacts the opinions that online shoppers have of hotels, according to research commissioned by online travel agent Expedia.
The research, which used electromyography (a technique for evaluating the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles) to gauge shoppers’ eye gaze and facial expressions, discovered that several types of images and image attributes consistently evoked emotional reactions in online shoppers.
The research found that the most important image to include is a room with a view. Isabelle Pinson, senior director of market management for the UK and Ireland at Expedia, said: “Rooms with windows overlooking an attractive visual scene such as a landmark or beach evoke the most delight in online shoppers and help shoppers see themselves in the context of their trip.”
She added that photographs which are distorted by fisheye lenses or unusual angles evoke the most negative emotions in shoppers as they are viewed with suspicion, as if the hotel has “something to hide”.
The research revealed several other ‘tips’ for hoteliers to maximise conversion, including images of secondary spaces with attractive vistas, ensuring images are well-lit with natural light, displaying unique feature and attributes of the hotel and ensuring room spaces are pristine with no mess.
Expedia also advised hoteliers to include bathroom photos, avoid distorting camera techniques and include both close-up and perspective shots.
Expedia Partner Central, an interactive engagement tool for hoteliers, can help hotel owners gauge if their properties require additional images with three different scores, showing green yellow or red to rate their images.
Pinson explained that the photo engagement tool and scoring system enables partners to receive “meaningful” feedback on the actions they had taken.
She said: “We know feedback is important because it can help drive bookings and revenue – and hoteliers want this feedback in real time so they can take action. Expedia has shown that hotels with green photo scores are more likely to convert than those with red scores.”