Whenever I travel somewhere new, I try not to have too many expectations. I like to be surprised.. But most people need to be sold on a new destination. And nothing sells like beauty.
The lure of pretty pics
Pictures or videos are the first sources of information we try to access. I’ve heard people say they’ll never again make the mistake of trusting online images of faraway places that just don’t live up to the promise. Sometimes the images on offer don’t do justice to the destination, so people choose not to go there.
As tourism professionals, we own that responsibility – to show the travelling public the truth in the best possible light. For me the answer lies in one simple question:
If all I had to go on were these pictures in an itinerary, would I choose to go there?
I was about 10 years old when I first saw this picture. I was reading up on myths & legends at a local library, when I encountered images of the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Three things drew me to this place a million miles away from where I was in Cape Town, South Africa: 1. The myth surrounding it. 2. My fascination with geology & funny-shaped rocks. 3. The magical, mystical pictures displayed in the National Geographic I was paging through. They were beautiful. I was spellbound.
Mythical Irish giant warrior, Finn McCool, was challenged to a fight by Scottish giant, Benandonner. The Causeway linked Scotland & Ireland, so the story goes. McCool outwitted the Scot, scared him off and on his retreat, Benandonner destroyed the Giant’s Causeway, leaving it as it looks today.
The story, the pictures & the sense of wonder these oddly shaped basalt columns evoked in my imagination, inspired me to make a promise to myself that I would visit this site one day.
The images of those ancient rock formations had the power to stay with me for over a decade.
17 Years later I went there & I was enthralled like a kid who’d just discovered an enchanted forest.
Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.
The way that beautiful images can haunt & continue to inspire admiration and curiosity is not unique to me. Humans are attracted to beauty – hence our tendency to overuse the concept that ‘Content Sells’. Add beauty to the cliché and it becomes travel marketing wisdom. Plenty of research has been done on the links between pretty images and sales figures. Our industry is no different. Buying travel often starts with virtual window shopping – the best window display must draw the biggest crowd, surely?
So, why aren’t we dressing up our displays better?
Beauty in the eye of the beholder
Images don’t just please (or offend) the eye, they also evoke emotion, set a mood, create expectation. We can already communicate so much to our clients through the images we use to sell our products or offers – from what they will see, feel & hear up close, to what they can expect to experience. It’s those first images that grab the attention and arrest the imagination.
We have this lovely beach experience to sell you.. See? Do you feel like you’re there? Can you feel that cool water between your toes? Sun gently warming your bare skin? Can you hear the surf rising and falling hypnotically around you? Can you taste the salt? Do you feel at one with the turtle?
So who doesn’t like the beach? Any beach?
But what is the experience you are selling?
Convey your passion for your destination, tour or experience with big, bold, beautiful images.
If all I had to go on were these images on an itinerary, would I choose to go there? Beauty holds the power to inspire travellers to visit a destination – enough research has been done on the subject and the tools to create beautiful content are out there. Images sell. So.. if a picture is worth a thousand words, then what exactly are you telling your clients?