Whenever I travel somewhere on holiday, I try not to do too much planning.. I like a measure of spontaneity in my travels. But where I put my head down for the night can make a holiday memorable for the best or the worst reasons. And nothing is more memorable than beauty.
Images maketh up the mind
Pictures or videos are the first sources of information we try to access. I’ve heard people say they will 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 a brochure, would I choose to go there?
I’m a sucker for a good scary story and as a child, the mythical Loch Ness monster inspired delicious chills down my spine. When I got the chance to visit the Loch Ness in Scotland as an adult, I was adamant that the only place to stay would be right on the shore of the lake. Urquhart Castle would’ve been perfect if it weren’t a ruin.
We were 3 girls on a road trip around the UK with limited funds, our choices in accommodation mostly guided by cost.
Armed with guide books, brochures & maps, we plotted our route.
The picture in the guide book of the youth hostel we finally picked was hardly appealing but it fit our criteria: We wanted clean, safe & well-situated.
What we found when we got there exceeded our expectations by a mile.
There wasn’t another building nor artificial light in sight. As the sun set late that summer’s night, a full silver moon came out to play & cast a thousand shimmers on the lake. I took a quick dip – the water was so cold, it burnt my skin; then I got entangled in the lake weeds & attacked by midges, but I asked for it, didn’t I?
The location lent itself to almost total seclusion & we had an entire section inland of the shore to ourselves to hike around. This place was like Nessie’s other best kept secret. We’d struck Scotch gold.
Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.
Selling travel through beauty
The way that beautiful images can haunt & continue to inspire admiration and curiosity is not unique to me. Humans are attracted to beauty. Love it or hate a bad cliche, but the fact that ‘Beauty Sells’ works in our favour. Tons 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?
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. At our lodge we have this lovely bush experience to sell you… See? Can you see yourself there? Do you feel the breeze fanning your face from across the water?
Can you feel the wobble of the canoe on the water? Can you hear those giants moving slowly, powerfully so thrillingly close to you?
Do you hear them swishing, splashing in the water, their gentle snorting and languid chomping?
Do you feel awestruck?
It’s a gorgeous picture, very artistic. Wish I’d taken it.
But what is the experience I would be selling?
Even worse.. !
Not a bad-looking corridor as hotel corridors go, but who remembers the hotel they stayed at for its corridor? Unless it was around Halloween time and you wanted to conjure up some The Shining-esque intrigue..
Who chooses one hotel over another on that basis anyway?
Convey the passion you have for your property or activity with big, bold, beautiful images.
As much as we like our customers to depend on us for everything, they want to feel empowered in their decision-making. Beautiful content has the power to inspire travellers to visit a destination – the research has been done and the tools are out there. So, if a picture is worth a thousand words, then what exactly are you telling your clients? If all I had to go on were these images in a brochure, would I choose to go there?