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Hotel Marketing Guide To Photo Copyright and Licensing

Hotel Photography Insider


Hotel Marketing Guide

To Photo Copyright and Licensing


In today’s digital age, hotel and resort photography plays an extremely crucial role in hotel strategies to attract customers. Professional, eye-catching hotel photos makes a significant difference in hotel marketing campaigns and drawing guests in to book at your hotel. However, it is essential for everyone to understand the intricacies of hotel photo licensing and hotel photo copyright to ensure that the images are being used legally and ethically. This hotel marketing guide addresses that issue.

Photo Licensing

Most luxury hotel brands rely on professional hotel photographers to capture high-quality hospitality photos of their luxury hotels and the guest experience. When hotels, architects, interior designers commission interior photographers, they do not own the pictures, but they are obtaining a license to use those photos for specific purposes and for a specific length of time. This license outlines what the client can and cannot do with the photos.

I have always found it best for my clients if I include an all-encompassing license right off the bat. My normal licensing is worded as:

“the creator of the work (‘Work’) referenced in this document ( ) hereby grants to the The Client ”a Non-Exclusive license to use the Work Worldwide. This license shall be valid for An Unlimited Time and shall cover publication of the Work in the following media only: Unlimited Media.”

Which gives my hotel clients permission to use the photos in all forms of print or digital media, in any location, and in perpetuity.

However, it is crucial to note that the commercial photographer always retains the copyright of the photographs, and any client is not permitted to give, sell, or distribute the photos to any third party without explicit permission from the photographer.

Photo Copyright

Photo copyright gives the original creator of an image the exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, and display that image. When hotels commission photographers, they do not automatically become the copyright owners. Instead, they receive a license to use the images for specific purposes while the photographer or retains the copyright.

This means that hotels cannot claim the photos as their own or use them in any way that goes beyond the scope of the license. They must respect the rights of the copyright holder and ensure they are using the images within the agreed-upon terms. Violating photo copyright can have legal consequences.

What You Can and Cannot Do with Photos

Hotels can use the licensed photos to promote their properties and enhance their online presence. They can display the images on their website, social media platforms, OTAs and marketing materials to attract potential guests. As long as the photos are used to promote the brand, property, and/or services, that is fine.

On the other hand, the photos cannot be sold or distributed to any third party without the explicit permission of the copyright holder. Examples would be architects and designers, and other contractors who would want to use the photos to promote their own work. They cannot use the images for any purpose that falls outside the agreed-upon license terms.


I have always believed that it is up to the hotel photographer to educate and inform their hospitality clients on this subject, and the hotel marketing guide hopefully does this. As photo licensing can become quite complex when different types of media, locations, and time limits are defined. Understanding photo usage rights is crucial for any client to avoid any legal issues that may arise, protect their reputation, and respect the photographer’s work. Giving hotels the ability to build up a relationship with the professional architecture and interiors photographer and use captivating hotel pictures to attract guests while staying within ethical boundaries. So the main takeaway here is that giving, selling, or distributing photos to third parties is not allowed without explicit permission from the photographer.


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