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BEST USE OF PHOTOGRAPHY 2017 INTERVIEW – Pedro M. S. Duarte/Director of Web Design

This year’s Best Use of Photography winner is “Santiago Hotel: Cooking & Nature” by GuestCentric of New York, NY. The site was entered in the Travel & Tourism category and displayed a vivid use of stunning and unexpected photography that contributed to the overall unique and outstanding style of the site.

With us today to talk more about the site, we have Pedro M. S. Duarte to discuss the outstanding work and the Best Use of Photography award.

HIA: Pedro, so what does it mean to your company and team to receive this award distinction?

GuestCentric (Pedro M. S. Duarte): Getting recognized with an award for excellence for our job performance is always a positive reinforcement to keep getting better. It means that we are going in the right direction, regarding what we think website design is – it’s one of the most challenging ways of balancing design and user experience.

HIA: The website for the hotel utilized some unexpected and unique photography that blended the culinary images with the overall hotel shots. Talk more about the thought process and strategy behind this imagery and maybe give us some more background on the site.

GuestCentric (Pedro M. S. Duarte): The main objective was to get a website with a look & feel that was very distinctive and appropriate to the type of product (nature, gastronomic tradition, cooking, informal chic).
The website should appeal to a sophisticated but informal audience, looking for unique and different places, looking for quirky experiences and hotels. We had strong guidance in the cooking&nature concept of the hotel, and we wanted to play with that in an amusing way. From there it was actually very easy to achieve the objective.

HIA: What was the biggest challenge with this project?

GuestCentric (Pedro M. S. Duarte): We are talking about a small hotel with lots of design details, cozy and trendy. That interior design and ambiance refers to Alentejo (a region in southern Portugal), to nature, to the sea and, of course, to gastronomy, which is a strong anchor of the hotel concept. The most challenging aspect was working and balancing all the colors, to look rustic and trendy at the same time, revealing textures and details related to nature and gastronomy, while graphically matching the style of the hotel.

HIA: Talk about the success of this idea and some of the more specific results from it.

GuestCentric (Pedro M. S. Duarte): We believe the success came from the perfect balance between colors and the iconography used, making the visual interpretation funny enough to be distinctive and to have a memorable website. At the same time, we were able to keep the visual coherence and visual hierarchy all over the website, with some logic to represent dynamism and freshness.

HIA: Tell us more about the people involved in the project. We would even love to gain some insight on what drives them, how they stay creative, etc.

GuestCentric (Pedro M. S. Duarte): What drove the team was actually the opportunity to do something new, something different from all other hotels. All people involved who were chosen for this project love cooking as a way of living and that inspired and motivated them to get out of the box and deliver an extraordinary result without compromising the guest experience and usability of the website.

HIA: Talk about the importance of good imagery and how it contributes to the overall mood of websites in general?

GuestCentric (Pedro M. S. Duarte): Images act as storytellers, allowing website guests to visualize and ideate about your product. They mean the world to the audience, communicating directly to the “croc” brain of guests, triggering emotions and even compelling them to take action – for hotels, booking directly with the hotel –, helping them to clearly identify the mood of the property, engaging them in order to achieve the website’s objective.
Images play another crucial role in websites, that is, the ability to be easily remembered, increasing the website’s performance and overall experience.

HIA: Do you have anything else you would like to add to the interview?

GuestCentric (Pedro M. S. Duarte): I just wanted to thank you again for this opportunity. It’s very important for the team to get this kind of recognition in order to keep high levels of motivation and interest, continuing to offer better designs and concepts to the hospitality industry.

HIA: Pedro, thank you very much for taking the time to talk more about this award and for sharing the great work with our competition. We sincerely wish you the best in the future and look forward to having you back in future competitions.