Photography for the travel + tourism industry: How to use the right images that set your company apart

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Photography and Tourism go hand in hand. You simply cannot sell your destination or experience without the right atmospheric photography. It's the visual poetry behind your brand and in the travel industry images have the advantage of instantly conveying an idea or telling a story.

Images are very important to present your online & offline message and to sell your location. Professional imagery will help your business and its products to gain more interest, more customers and more profit. But like all photography there are some tricks to the trade that will really give give your business in tourism an edge over others if you consider the following tips:

"If a photo says 1000 words, imagine what a 1000 photos would say?"

1.Make moments emotional

It's not what clients are doing, its how they feel about what they are doing

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I've put together shot lists for countless travel and tourism companies over the past 7 years and the one thing that stands out as being a differentiator between companies doing it right and companies that are just doing it, is the element of emotion. Capturing your clients standing on a street corner with a guide, looking down at a map isn't a very convincing travel image. It doesn't matter if the background is colourful or the light is perfect. Your clients look bored and lost. Period. If you want to create enticing images for your tourism company make sure the images are emotive. Use clients or lifestyle models enjoying what you have to offer in the most genuine way possible. A romantic glance between a husband and wife over dinner, a group of friends laughing so hard they can't contain themselves, an authentic smile between an employee from your company and the client. These things work and if they are "real moments" all the better.

2. Show your clients in the destination

images for your company need to represent the experience not just the destination

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If you follow any travel influencers in 2017 on Instagram, travel blogs, or otherwise, there is one thing you'll notice about their most liked, shared, and viral images: The photos include a human element. In most cases they use themselves or their travel partner and this makes the destination one that you as a potential traveler or client can relate to. "There she is in front of the Taj Majal at sunrise" translates as "That could be me in front of the Taj Majal at sunrise." So, what's the point? Showing the destination isn't enough, you also need to show your clients in or at this destination to make the images, as a whole, convincing. If your company sells futbol tickets, show your clients cheering in the stadium, if its a tapas tour, show clients enjoying the food with the cityscape behind them. If you're tourism company sells to people, than make those people are part of your corporate images.

3. Incorporate User-Generated Content (UGC)

Leverage the images of your snap-happy clients

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In the age of Millennials, selfies, and smartphone-obsessed travellers, chances are your clients are going to take a lot of photos during their tourism experience with your company. In fact, according to Forbes, statistics show that the number 1 motivation for millennials making purchase decisions about where to travel and what to buy is based on seeing inspirational images of their peers in that destination. Most travelers are happy to share images they took on their trip - or at least the ones they are proud of. To leverage these images to promote your tourism company make an upload link available to your clients so they can share images with you or their group. Host an Instagram competition or repost their images with your own hashtags. Make sure your company has a system in place to use and promote your client's images as your own company will be all the better for it.

4. Invest in a professional photographer

avoid using unprofessional images or stock images that everyone else has used as well

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It's astounding how many times I've been asked by tourism and travel companies if I have any images of "x" city they can license for their blog, website, or brochure. As a photographer, Im happy to make the sale, but my inner business person is wincing with pain. Do your tourism company a favor and just once hire a professional to photograph YOUR business, YOUR clients, and YOUR destination the way you intend it to be shown through the eyes of your brand. Seriously, for all the hassle of sourcing images, or paying for stock images you don't really love, its sooooooooooo worth it. Nothing can beat a series of images produced just for your company with your brand and audience in mind. The time-cost savings alone will make you thankful you hired a professional. Plus, the images will be yours and only yours and this contributes to the originality of your brand.

5. Be selective: Develop a consistency in your images

images can come from various sources but should have a similiar look and feel

If you've be running your company for quite some time, then chances are you have a library of corporate images to use but they might consist of black and whites, over-filtered smartphone photos, colourful professional photos, client photos, etc. This is normal but for the purpose of maximising the use of these images you're going to have to get selective and make some decisions. First rule of thumb: Quality over quantity. You may have a social media plan that demands 28 photos per month but if you've only got 16 that are really top-notch, its better to use fewer higher-quality photos than an excess of crap. Second rule of thumb: Use the same filter or editing style on all your images. You can hire a professional photographer to do this for you or you can simply train your team on how to use "x" snapseed or Instagram filter and make sure whatever is showcased on your website or posted to social media from this point forward takes consistency into account. Consistent images create brand recognition for your company. 

With these recommendations in mind, set your tourism company up for success in 2017 and start investing in photography. Its the visual currency of your business and a big part of the reason that clients will choose you over the competition.

For more information on professional photography services, content creation, and creative consulting please hop over to my website and enjoy.

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