When weighing the many functions of a travel marketer, the constant creation of content is what seems most daunting. Whether it’s for a hotel, an airline, a cruise line, or a car rental company, and whether it’s a brand-wide initiative or a regional campaign, it just isn’t easy consistently coming up with new creative that will drive bookings.
According to Google’s “5 Stages of Travel,” a consumer’s travel journey starts at “dreaming.” This is the phase where inspiration hits, and the consumer starts thinking about taking a trip. They’re picturing themselves on a flight to a new city, walking down that city’s main street, and laying their head down to sleep in a charming room. It goes without saying that dreaming is all about visualization. And with more than 2.6 billion images shared daily across channels, consumers are constantly stumbling across engaging visuals that spark feelings of wanderlust.
The Perpetual Discovery of Travel Photos
People are constantly discovering travel images on social media channels, blogs, microsites, apps and more – both intentionally and unintentionally. As a consumer casually opens the Instagram app, for example, they probably don’t know that they’re about to see a friend having a great time in Bangkok, thereby inciting that Instagram user to look into planning their own trip to Thailand. Meanwhile, actions taken on Pinterest are often more deliberate – though the outcome can be just as serendipitous. When a consumer searches “Paris” on Pinterest, for instance, this person expects to see beautiful, engaging photos that represent the City of Light.
In a world where images can be shared in an instant, how can you, as a marketer, create new, inspiring pieces of content to keep travelers engaged?
Whether you’re new to visual marketing or you’re a long-time pro, it might sometimes feel like you’ve exhausted all of your options, and that you’re sharing the same photos over and over. If you’re struggling to come up with new creative, take solace in knowing that you don’t have to go at it alone. There are many sources that you can tap into in order to built your content library.
Here are three options to get you started.
1. Destination Marketing Organizations
As a travel marketer, you’re not just selling your room inventory, car rental service or cruise amenities; you’re selling a destination, too. Ultimately, if a location doesn’t appeal to leisure travelers, they simply won’t book.
The best way to show off what a particular location has to offer is to work directly with destination marketing organizations (DMOs). Not only do they provide travel companies with marketing resources, but they also tend to be the gateway for consumers who are just starting to look into a region. Someone who wants to look into Napa Valley, for example, will probably start their search on Google with “Napa Valley.” The first two organic search results are from a regional wine publication and Visit Napa Valley – the region’s tourism marketing organization.
As far as collaborative marketing strategies go, The Visit Napa Valley Instagram feed is a fantastic example of how travel brands can partner with DMOs. It’s replete with photos of beautiful landscapes, classic hotels and tasty dishes from local restaurants. A potential tourist browsing this feed will get a great idea of what to eat, what to see, and where to stay while visiting the Napa region.
Travel marketers should be sharing their images with DMOs, so that those umbrella organizations can smoothly promote local travel and hospitality businesses. Conversely, travel marketers should be asking DMOs to share engaging photos of regional landscapes and attractions, so that these images can then be shared across brand channels. This strategy provides potential travelers with a glimpse of the destination beyond your establishment or service, and it provides you with additional content to publish when you’re low on resources.
2. Travel Partners
Chances are, if someone is going on vacation, your travel brand is not the only one that person is buying into for their trip. As a hotelier, you might have relationships with local restaurants, airlines or car rental companies. Leverage those partnerships to drive demand back to your brand.
Hilton Hotels & Resorts, for example, works with the GRAMMY Awards each year as an official hotel partner. To promote this partnership, the hotel brand drives consumers on social to a dedicated GRAMMY Awards Pinterest board. On it, there are pins featuring classic photos of previous GRAMMY Award winners, as well as graphics showing how fans can enter to win passes to the GRAMMYs.
This can be done at the property level by partnering directly with local restaurants or popular local attractions. Maybe offer up a discount on a car rental service for staying at a partner hotel, or a voucher for a free drink at a trendy restaurant after booking a cruise. Share this information on the channels your customers are using to research their next trips. Exchanging images of all these offerings will work to 1. create more engaging content on your visual channels, and 2. promote the great services your partners have to offer.
3. Fan-Sourced Photos
When it comes down to it, one traveler’s celebration is another’s inspiration. How can you tap into this?
Harness user-generated images from travelers who have enjoyed their experiences with your brand, and share them across your social channels, emails, microsites, ads, and any other marketing touchpoints to help potential travelers get inspired. Just be sure to ask the fan for permission to repurpose their photo. Another option is to create a dedicated hashtag that people can use to intentionally share their photos with your brand. Airbnb, Walt Disney World and Conrad Hotels & Resorts are among the travel brands that take this approach.
Conrad Hotels & Resorts, for example, asks fans to tag photos with #Conrad135 and #StayInspired. Instagram users who tag their photos with those phrases know that they’re sharing them with the Conrad team, and that the brand may use the images in the future.
The inspirational travel photo above was shared with Conrad Hotels, and the brand reposted it on Instagram. The team took it a step further by making it seamless for potential travelers to find out more about the destination featured in that beautiful image. Through their interactive Instagram feed—powered by the Curalate Visual Commerce Platform—consumers can quickly discover that the woman dancing on that beach was doing so at the Conrad Maldives property. And who wouldn’t be captivated by the idea of a trip to a peaceful, luxurious destination?
Create Even More Inspiring Travel Content
Now that you’re armed with three simple tactics for sourcing new creative assets, go forth and leverage your relationships with DMOs, travel partners and your fans. But remember that you too can create amazing images with nothing more than your mobile device. If you’re looking for inspiration, we’ve got you covered. Download our guide—“Instafamous!”—for 25 ideas on how to tell authentic visual stories from 12 of Instagram’s top influencers.