Armed with their selfie sticks and smartphones, photo-obsessed travelers have become the norm all over the globe. In their chasing down of exotic locales and #instatravel shots (because “pics or it didn’t happen”) travelers have turned selfie photography into a veritable sport (even a deadly one at that).
Whether you choose to embrace your inner narcissist or not, it’s clear that the travel selfie is here to stay. And as a hotel, why not embrace the trend? Here are a few ways hotels can cater to photo-obsessed guests:
Partner with a company that links travelers with photographers
Over the past few years, companies have launched with the goal of connecting holidaymakers with professional photographers, who help document trips by producing travel mag-worthy images. Just like for weddings, birthday parties and other momentous life events, why not hire a photographer to capture lifelong memories made while traveling?
While some companies, such as tour operator El Camino, offer a photographer as a standard component of their tour packages, others such as Flytographer focus on linking travelers with top local photographers across the world, who not only snap fantastic images but also use their expert knowledge of the area to guide visitors to the most picturesque backdrops possible. Most of Flytographer’s business thus far has come from honeymoons, proposals, and family or couples vacations, but bachelorette parties and solo trips are also on the rise. Although sessions as short as 30 minutes are available, they do come at a hefty price tag to cover all costs associated with shooting high-quality images.
Flytographer recently partnered with Fairmont, making things even more convenient for guests. With a troop of tour guide-like photographers readily available, the hotel brand is now able to provide local knowledge even when visitors are off-property. The photos produced will leave guests with positive, tangible memories and quite likely a love of the Fairmont brand that could potentially make them repeat customers. There’s a great deal of room for other hotels—as well as DMOs, attractions, and other tourism businesses—to follow Fairmont’s lead and partner with similar companies.
Offer special photography packages
Hotels are also putting together special photography package room rates to appeal to today’s most narcissistic travelers. Inspired by iconic photographer Ron Galella, the “Paparazzi Project” package at Times Square hotel Row NYC provides guests with a stay in the 23rd floor penthouse suite, gratis Champagne, and a makeover by hairstylist and makeup artist Lionel Renard. A Getty photographer will then start snapping, following patrons around the property and to hotspots around town. The final images are shared publicly on the Getty Images site—just like celebrity photos.
Last year, the Mandarin Oriental Miami’s #MiamiMyWay package offered guests the chance to learn photo-taking and photo-editing skills with their smartphones. After an instructional session with a top “iPhoneographer,” guests went on a chauffeured photography tour of the city’s most breathtaking spots. The day ended with a visit to the on-site restaurant La Mar—to snap a few #foodporn shots, of course.
Other Mandarin Oriental properties have offered similar photography-based promotions, like the “Selfie in Paris” package at the brand’s outpost in the French capital.
Provide selfie sticks and other tools
Love them or hate them, selfie sticks are another way to appeal to photo-obsessed travelers. Hotels can make travelers’ lives that much easier by loaning out selfie sticks and other tools to facilitate photography. Brands including the Four Seasons and Kimpton have begun offering such services, sometimes complimentary, sometimes for a rental fee.
A few hotels have even been running contests to reward those taking selfies on-site and posting them on social media, with hashtags such as Kimpton’s #AdoreThySelfie.
The JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa went a step further, offering a free selfie stick as part of their “Your Spring Selfie” package last year. Also included was a map of suggested “selfie spots” around the property. Given all the time and effort needed to keep your hotel looking its best, why not point out its best angles?
Brands looking to cater to social media savvy guests can follow the lead of 1888 Hotel, dubbed the world’s first Instagram hotel. Two screens in the reception area run a feed of #1888hotel images uploaded by Instagram users, many of whom snap photos of themselves in the hotel’s designated “selfie space.”
Going even further, 1888 Hotel also rewards free nights to Instagram users with more than 10,000 followers, as well as to guests who have snapped the best Instagram photo of the hotel for the month.
A mutually beneficial exchange
While some may argue that selfie sticks and excessive smartphone usage cheapen the travel experience, hotels should embrace photography-obsessed travelers and their enthusiasm for capturing and sharing their memories. And in return, your hotel gets a little extra love on Instagram or Snapchat—it’s a win-win.
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