For many years, we had heard Mercersburg Inn described as a super-special property. Located in a small town in central Pennsylvania, this Georgian Mansion is–for one thing–REALLY BIG! At over 20,oo0 square feet, with 15 grand guest rooms in the main inn and another two in the carriage house, this is one spectacular inn, with opulent common spaces, porches and a gorgeous restaurant. Unfortunately, when one looked at the inn’s website, very little of that grandness came through. Also (online, at least) the property was presented to the world as dated, cluttered and dark. We were assured by the Innkeepers and others “in the know” that none of this was accurate. Mercersburg Inn needed a “new image”–one that accurately depicted the grandeur and elegance of this outstanding property.
They called us to do their photography and we encouraged them to contact White Stone Marketing for a new website. The wheels began to turn.
The Photo shoot was a great success and the resulting photos are a shocking improvement over their previous images. In addition, White Stone Marketing is currently developing a new web site for Mercersburg Inn, and it should be ready in a few months.
As we reviewed the old website, it dawned on us that there has been a dramatic shift in the way images are used on “Rooms” pages. In the past, rooms were often represented by a “collage” of various shots (see “Before” shots below), each tiny image representing an aspect of the room, all together intended to tell the story of that room. More recently, website designers have replaced these collages with larger, more literally-descriptive photos, seen in a rotation. According to Liz Hamilton, Design Director at White Stone Marketing, there are a few of reasons for this shift:
1. Today’s savvy innkeepers tend to invest in professional photography (Yay!) and website designers now strive to create “photo-forward” websites, which are proven to be much more effective.
2. Online consumers (especially millennials) want to be able to see EXACTLY what they are getting, i.e. how the room is laid out, interrelationships of the various spaces, etc.. This is achieved much more effectively with a few large photos, rather than a group of smaller images.
3. Faster internet speeds have allowed larger photos to be used without pesky load time issues
4. Smaller images of intricate room details are poorly represented on mobile devices–and as we covered in our last blog , mobile is where it’s at!
So, let’s talk about this shoot…
1) Getting Prepared
We had a series of telephone meetings with owners Lisa and Jim, and made various decor and styling recommendations. Low-investemnt but high-impact suggestions included removing lace canopies over beds and reviewing bedding to be sure it felt current and fresh. Another suggestion was to update any accent or throw pillows–small details can say so very much. Lisa also made the move to replace some of the heavy, dated window treatments, replacing them with cleaner, fresher white sheers or lace–still appropriate for this historic mansion, but lighter and a little more current feeling. This also let a lot more light into the rooms.
Lisa and Jim were great sports and really listened to our suggestions; their tireless–and SPEEDY– efforts contributed greatly to the success of this project. As we often say, 75% of photographing a property is simply being PREPARED. So much of the important work actually happens before a shutter ever clicks. Remember–great photography of “tired” or outdated decor can only take you so far. Read our post on “Getting Ready for the Photographer” from a few years ago.
Immediately upon arrival, we were astounded by the scale of most of the rooms and suites–they were huge! The pictures they had been using to sell their rooms for over a decade were woefully (tragically) underselling the spaciousness and grandness of the spaces, the high ceilings, and the amenities many of the rooms have–like porches with views and unique, mint-condition vintage bathrooms. So many of the aspects that make an inn truly special were not being touted!
3) Its all about the View!
Who knew this place had views?? We captured views out of windows whenever we could. Mercersburg is a small, out-of-the-way town and we wanted the pictures to help tell the story of the setting. Views and enviromental shots really can do that!
4) Celebrating Important Amenities
Guests care about bathrooms. Special bathrooms really, really can sell a room. Mercersburg Inn has some great modern baths in their carriage house rooms, but previously they were very poorly photographed or not shown at all. Not any more!! Also, the bed got a makeover, removing much of the floral bedding, thus making for a cleaner, simpler look.
5) Beyond Sleeping Rooms
Although the guest rooms are stunning at Mercersburg Inn, there is SO much more to the property in terms of common spaces. They are full of character, opulence and grandness. In eleven years of photographing inns, these are the most interesting we’ve ever photographed. Here are a few: