Whether it’s a beautiful beach, local landmark, or a stunning landscape, travel is primarily a visual experience, so all hotels should be using dazzling visual content to engage their audiences effectively.
Good photography is a must, but hotels often focus narrowly on the same tired images.
While I certainly agree that having beautiful, professional photos in your content library is a must, I believe that other types of visuals can help hotels to stand out from the crowd, especially in highly competitive markets.
One type of visual content that is in trend and increasingly popular is illustrations. The popularity of illustrations is on the rise for a good reason – in a sea full of look-alike photos, an illustration can stop the scroll.
They are unique by design, and they give a creative feel to brands that use them effectively. Hotels, in particular, can use them to stand out and do something a little different from everybody else.
Illustrations are a great storytelling tool
There are many reasons why use illustrations work great for content marketing. One of them is that they can be tailored to fit any brand uniquely. Whether it’s a luxurious city hotel for business travellers, a family holiday resort, or an urban, quirky boutique hotel, illustrations can help to tell a brand story effectively.
To illustrate this clearer, let’s look at some examples of how some hotels are using illustrations to market themselves effectively:
Hotel L’Embitu is a luxury hotel in the capital of Estonia, which is targeting high-end and business travellers.
They offer a great example of how photographs and illustrations can be perfectly incorporated and combined to tell a brand story on Instagram. The illustrations sell the experience of staying in the hotel, and the relaxing atmosphere within, better than photos ever could.
Both types of visuals share an elegant and sophisticated style, with balanced composition and aligned with the hotel’s brand identity.
Another good example is Hotel Esencia, which proudly holds the title as being “one of the most instagrammable hotels in 2020” according to Vogue. They brilliantly use illustrations on theri website to depict the carefree vacation spirit they specialise in.
The freehand, relaxed style of the illustration gives the impression that they were casually sketched while kicking back on the beach, cocktail-in-hand. They tell the stories of the hotel, bringing them to life almost like an illustrated storybook.
A hint of animation helps to make them feel even more engaging and fun.
They use illustration only on their website while focussing on User Generated Content and photography on social media. This is a good example of how you can distribute the different types of content on different channels for optimal effectiveness.
Illustrations can be hugely flexible content assets
Illustrations can be used across a brand to create familiarity and consistency, from the website to video ads and in-room notices and signage.
You can breathe extra life into illustrations by animating them into explainer videos, gifs, and social media content that can gain extra attention.
If you hire a good illustrator, there are a few concepts that you cannot successfully bring to life. As I like to say, if you can imagine it, you can illustrate it.
Hotels can think outside the box here. Maybe creating a personality-filled city map, a mural showing quirky destination highlights or a website that offers a fantastic, playful experience for the visitor, hotel and travel lifestyle illustrations, destination highlights, service – these are just some of the ways how you can use illustrations.
Have in mind that, as with almost everything, quality beats quantity here.
Illustrations should always be aligned with your brand identity. Focus on creating illustrations that respect your brand guidelines, express your brand’s mood and convey the right messages you want to send.
An affordable alternative to fresh photography
Good quality, original photography doesn’t come cheap, which means illustrations can be a more affordable option.
Behind every professional photographer and illustrator is a lot of talent and countless hours learning and mastering the techniques and skills needed to take the perfect shot or create illustrations that fit the brand and the brief.
However, it’s the other costs involved that can make a big difference in the final price of each of those services.
Equipment that photographers use to create high-quality photographs is expensive. The entire process of photo-shooting and later post-production can be very complex, especially if you need to hire the entire team, like models, make-up artists, stylists, photo assistants etc.
Illustrators, on the other hand, can have much lower costs of equipment and they don’t need to have a huge team involved in the process – which can ultimately reflect on the price.
They can also get started right away, and are not reliant on good weather – which can help if you need visuals for an urgent event or campaign.
Of course, for quality, you will pay more, but if professional photography is not fitting your budget, illustrations mean you don’t need to compromise on the quality of the visuals you are using. Rather think of the ways how you can start incorporating illustrations into your visual content strategy.
If you want to differentiate your hotel from the competitors on the market, illustrations are a great way to stand out online while also staying true to, and adding personality to, your brand identity.