While I don't recommend over styling photography used on your website and online travel agencies, there are certainly exceptions that can be made for magazine or printed articles. This would be a situation where you are lucky enough to have Gourmet Traveller or some other esteemed magazine feature your hotel or restaurant.
Here are some suggestions for the type of photography you might discuss with the publisher, in consultation with your professional photographer (who you may have to provide or might come from the publisher).
Photography for printed publications is a completely different kettle of fish to your regular hotel online presence shots. There is plenty of room to style and stage these shots for maximum impact, in consultation of course with their writers and editors.
While you could use a photo you feature on your website and OTA's you may need to purchase additional rights from the photographer for printed use - so check to see what resolution and what copyright you purchased. It will need to be much higher resolution than your website photos and be provided in a different file format.
Hotel Photography Recommendations for Printed Magazines
Generally speaking, you will probably want to achieve a shot with as much natural light as possible but that should be at the discretion of the photographer. That also means choosing the right day to shoot, and possibly aiming to take some photos at dusk during the golden hour before sunset or the blue hour (the hour after dusk).
The most popular stylised scenes for hotels are pool shots (couples lying around the pool—normally being served cocktails, drinks or food by waiters) or enjoying the facilities in some way. The key here is to tell a story that the reader can imagine themselves being in.
They should desire to be that person in the photograph and be experiencing whatever is happening.
It also provides the opportunity to use attractive models. I recommend when featuring women to not overly flaunt the sexuality, so one piece bikinis or the use of sarongs or sheer materials are always a good option to tone down photos and keep them tasteful.
Sarongs can also add some fantastic colour to otherwise dull scenes.
Room shots are also possible but the problem here is where to put people! If they are lying in bed together people just think of sex. But if they are in bed wearing bath robes and eating breakfast that tells a completely different story.
If the room is large enough or features a dining table then guests enjoying breakfast and dressed in robes always exude style while at the same time taking attention away from what the models might be wearing underneath.
The inclusion of waiters or staff actually serving something such as coffee or pastries in the room also works well and heightens the premium tone.
The inclusion of guests in photos does make things much more difficult to stage though. You will obviously need models, and they may will need hair and makeup styling and possibly wardrobe help as well (although if they are in robes this can be avoided!).
For the photographer the challenge is that there may be movement in the scene requiring a higher frame rate (which may therefore necessitate strobe lighting).
If the guests will not be shown in robes then consider their wardrobe carefully. Discuss this with your stylist or photographer if you are going to hire someone to style the entire scene.
The selection of models for shots like these should be carefully considered based on your branding positioning in terms of the typical guest that visit your hotel.
Now the immediate reaction might be to have younger models, but if your average 18-25 year old guests are budget travellers booking standard rooms on Booking.com—then it might be time to consider more mature models After all, they are probably the age bracket of the magazine reader and more likely to book a suite.
The publisher can probably assist here with demographics of the publication, because this should also be taken into account. Also take into account the country where the publication is distributed and whether you may need to consider cultural aspects such as bare skin in Muslim countries.
If you are promoting a resort with golf or other recreational activities these can make great shots, but just be aware not everyone is a fan of golf or tennis! But everyone loves food and most people enjoy a drink by the pool, so keep the scene simple with universal appeal
Chris Jack is the editor of Locus Focus and a professional hotel photographer based in Brisbane with over 20 years experience in digital marketing. He also hosts the weekly "Sharper Hotel Marketing" podcast.