Drones have become immensely popular for both personal and commercial use in recent years and hotels are beginning to discover their value as marketing tools. Officially known to the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates their use, as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), drones offer unmatched visual documentation capabilities for the creation of aerial photos and videos for brands. According to projections from the FAA, commercially available drones in the U.S. are expected to rise from 42,000 in 2016 to 420,000 in 2021.
Utilizing drone technology for hospitality marketing purposes is a natural fit due to the highly visual nature of the industry. Drones are cost-effective compared to the price involved in hiring a photographer to go up in a helicopter. They also offer greater flexibility since they can fit and hover in much smaller spaces. Drones can also get up close to objects in a manner, which would be impossible for any manned aircraft.
To capture the quality of images and video requisite for hotel marketing purposes, a professionally piloted commercial drone is needed. The immense liability resulting from an accident involving a retail bought “toy “drone is too much to risk as well. So, drone photography should not be seen as a do-it-yourself project for hoteliers. The FAA requires all drones operated for commercial purposes to be flown by a FAA licensed pilot. Drones operate under the same rules, regulations and restrictions as manned aircraft. The drone pilot must also have flight insurance, and not merely liability insurance, because in the eyes of the law they are aircraft.
There are also both federal and state regulations specifically relevant to drones. The state regulations obviously vary by state. The most important federal regulation, and the one which is in reality hindering drone usage development the most, is the line of sight rule. Drone operators must keep the aircraft within their direct line of sight at all times when flying them. This regulation currently stands in the way of drone technology being implemented in various delivery services. Amazon has been promising drone delivery of their products to customers, however it will not come to fruition until they can convince federal authorities of their safety. When further technological development makes drone delivery service a reality, there are obvious possibilities for hoteliers to utilize them in this manner as well.
Drones flown by professionals can provide hotels with stunning imagery of their property and its surrounding area as a destination. The technology can empower hoteliers to give their website and social media channels the visual stimulation to entice potential customers to book their hotel stays.