As an aspiring hotel content creator, building a portfolio from scratch can be challenging. However, it’s important to take a slow and steady approach, rather than relying on unrealistic expectations set by mood boards.
Table of contents
- The Perfect Hotel UGC Pitch?
- Don’t Set Unrealistic Expectations: Sharing Mood Boards vs. Showing Actual Work
- Showing “What Is?” Vs. Asking “What If?’ Ensures Authenticity
- Why It Matters: Relationships are easier to maintain than to build
- Hilton Approved Hotel Photography for tru by Hilton – Raleigh Garner
Estimated reading time: 17 minutes
The Perfect Hotel UGC Pitch?
The perfect pitch is one that gets opened and begins a dialogue. One of my coaching clients recently used this process to approach a hotel where she will be staying as a guest. Instead of sending a long outreach email, we edited her initial contact down to a short and sweet message that shared the key details:
- She’s coming to visit the hotel as a guest.
- She’s a professional photographer and content creator.
- She’s going to take photos for her portfolio and would like to offer them to the hotel for licensing or purchase.
By focusing on her status as a guest, she automatically received a warm welcome but they didn’t pick up on her offer for a collaboration…yet.
The hotel didn’t know her or her work yet, so showing them her portfolio, samples or a “mood board” wasn’t the best option to get their attention. She is going to be a guest at the hotel with or without a collaboration. Instead of being disappointed that they didn’t offer a collaboration, she will go to the hotel and create amazing content and then send it to them watermarked with an option to license.
Don’t Set Unrealistic Expectations: Sharing Mood Boards vs. Showing Actual Work
A mood board is a visual tool that is commonly used by designers, artists, and content creators to convey the look and feel of a concept or project. It typically consists of a collage of images, color palettes, and textures that represent the intended mood or aesthetic. Mood boards can be helpful for communicating ideas and inspiration, but they can also create unrealistic expectations if the final product doesn’t match the images on the board.
My client is a very talented photographer and can send the hotel a mood board of her actual work that she creates while she’s a guest. This way they get an accurate representation of the type of work that she can create for them.
Showing “What Is?” Vs. Asking “What If?’ Ensures Authenticity
Mood boards tend to set unrealistic expectations for the quality of work the hotel will receive. If your work isn’t equivalent or better than what you show on a mood board, you risk disappointing the hotel and even risking a charge back if what you deliver isn’t up to par. Instead of relying on mood boards, it’s better to show hotels what you can do for them by presenting them with YOUR actual photos.
It’s much easier to sell something you’ve already created, rather than selling an idea of what you might be able to deliver. She’s already going to be a guest for an event and if she sees a unicorn, she can take a photo of it.
My coaching client is an excellent photographer and a fantastic UGC creator. The content she will create will be fantastic. It’s just a question of whether the hotel is interested in paying to license or use what she creates.
Offering Your Hotel UGC: Using Pixieset or Dropbox to Offer Licensing or Purchase Options
Once she has a collection of photos and videos that she is proud of, she can send the hotel a Pixieset or watermarked Dropbox link of her images. This gives them the opportunity to see your work and license the photos if they don’t want to pay upfront for a sponsored shoot or hotel collaboration. It’s a win-win situation for both parties, as the hotel gets high-quality images to use for their marketing, and you get to add more work to your portfolio.
One caveat – The only way I would consider using a mood board in outreach to a hotel or resort is if you have work that is similar in aesthetic but that isn’t necessarily hospitality-related. For example, if my coaching client has UGC product photography samples that have a similar vibe to the hotel, she could show her sample next to a photo from the hotel’s website or social media.
Moving on from a potential customer – Get to “No” quickly and don’t take it personally
Remember, the goal is to get to “no” in sales as quickly as possible, so you can move on to an actual potential customer. Don’t take it personally if a hotel says no; it’s just not the right fit. Keep in mind that just because they say no now doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in the future. Make sure to follow up and stay in touch.
The slow and steady authentic building process is key. Focus on building relationships with hotels by underpromising and over-delivering. Start small with your ask, even if the only ask is for a direct email to send the photos or content to after the visit. Be sure to watermark your images and make it clear that you’re offering to license rather than just sharing for exposure.
The Bottom Line:
Remember to start small with your ask and watermark your images, and don’t be discouraged if a hotel is not interested in your offer. Keep building your portfolio and stay in touch for future opportunities.
The great thing about this approach is that your worst case scenario is that you create content for your hospitality UGC portfolio and make amazing memories with your friends and family. The best case scenario is that you create licensing-worthy content that the hotel is excited to purchase and utilize and you create a relationship for ongoing collaboration opportunities. This works especially well for businesses in your area where you can create retainer or ongoing collaborations.
By focusing on being their guest first, you have the opportunity to build relationships and showcase your work in a respectful and professional manner.
Why It Matters: Relationships are easier to maintain than to build
We have long established relationship with our clients and they trust us with all of their hotel photography needs. Not because we are the greatest hotel photographers (we aren’t) but because we deliver quality, value, and consistency.
One such company is Crown Hotel and Travel Management in Wilmington, NC. We have photographed 17 hotels for them and continue our partnership as their sole hotel photographer.
Here’s a recent shoot we did for them…