Professional, In-House, or User Generated: Which Should Your Hotel be Using?

Choosing the right photos for your hotel is crucial, and it can either set yourself apart from the competition or end up making you look tacky and undesirable. Your hotel’s visual storytelling simply makes the difference during the shopping journey, and can ultimately impact your bottom line.


So that begs the question – with so many options for sourcing visual content, which method should your hotel be using? We’ve narrowed it down to professional photography, in-house photography, and user generated content – let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each:

Professional Photographer

checkEverything is prepared for you, making this an effortless option
checkAll equipment is owned by the photographer, so you’re hotel doesn’t need to invest in a large expense
checkLighting and editing are crafted to perfection by an experienced eye
checkHigh quality photos are produced through the photographer’s years of experience and expensive equipment
checkStructured with shoot list and storyboarded in order to cover every angle and amplify your hotel’s story
checkBrand standards are adhered to and kept up by the photographer throughout the shoot
crossCopyright and distribution may be limited or muddled since the photographer owns the rights to the photos
crossRequires a budget and planning in order to afford this service

In-House Photography

PhotographycheckQuickly get the job done from planning to shooting
checkOwnership of the photos belongs to the hotel, meaning they can edit and distribute them in any way they see fit
checkYou know your property best, allowing you to show your hotel’s story and shine from inside out
crossDifficult to budget time from an already full time job
crossNot as much expertise as a photographer for getting the best photos
crossQuality may suffer as a result of being untrained and limited in time

User Generated Content (Through Social Media)

Instagram LogocheckFresh images are constantly being uploaded, giving you a consistent stream of content
checkGuest photos feel authentic since they’re capturing your hotel’s unique quirks
checkEngages guests by encouraging them to contribute and snap more photos
crossThe content is coming from an uncontrolled outside source, so picking the best photos to consistently represent your brand can be difficult
crossThe photo stream is messy & seemingly random since guests can take a photo of anything they want
crossQuality is generally low since most guests are snapping photos with their mobile device

It’s All About The Context

Before you can decide on which method you want to use, you have to first think about how you’ll be using the photos. Different channels call for different standards – posting photos to your social media pages, for example, is considered more informal, meaning you can get away with imperfect photos (in-house photography or user generated content). Typically, photos posted on your main website or on 3rd party travel channels demand a closer attention to detail (professional or in-house photography).

Freehand Miami

Freehand Miami Gallery

However, it all depends on your hotel’s personality in the end. Take a look at how the Freehand Miami takes advantage of user generated content to present a vibrant and rich story. Their photo stream is entirely created from images submitted by guests on Instagram! Not every hotel can pull off a visual content strategy like the Freehand Miami, but it’s important to find what works best for your hotel and your brand guidelines. There is no right answer, so get creative and start thinking about how to get the most out of your visual storytelling.

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