Academic work can sometimes be inefficient. For example, people prefer to book hotels with nice pictures. Go figure.
In the paper, The role of photograph aesthetics on online review sites, the authors conclude that, “photos with professional aesthetics make a depicted destination appear more visually appealing, ultimately driving booking intentions.” Makes sense.
However, within this kind of obvious-in-hindsight research, wrinkles arise.
One group of participants was asked to imagine they were searching for hotels for a trip to Edinburgh. What was interesting was that, “if the review was positive, there was no significant difference in visual appeal between professional and amateur aesthetics.”
The difference between a professional and amateur photo is the difference in intention to book if just the pictures are shown. However, when people see reviews, the Kodachromae contrast doesn’t matter. Word of mouth type communciations matter.
The authors write in the discussion, “when the review was positive, participants viewed hotels as visually appealing in the amateur as in the professional setting.”
We believe in Alchemy and one way to do that is to create value for customers without changing the physical thing. In this case, that means past-guests conveying why something was nice.
We believe in JTBD approaches and one way to do that is find the goal of the customer. What is someone thinking when they book a room? It’s in that answer that the difference in photographs and reviews lies.