Photos sell tours

Whitewater rafting, Pigeon River, Hartford, Tenn.
Whitewater rafting, Pigeon River, Hartford, Tenn.

Photos are a powerful tool in helping you sell a travel experience. Since 90 percent of the information transmitted to our brains is visual, and since visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text, it is vital to use photographs in every step of marketing your business.

Social media is important to travel brands; studies have shown that up to 49 percent of people are inspired to book travel after seeing photos on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Seeing how photo-worthy a location is heavily influences travel-plan decisions. Using pictures in email messages has shown to increase click-through rates by 42 percent; higher click-throughs mean more website traffic.

Finally, photos on your website gives the first impression of your business to visitors. For all of your marketing channels, select photographs that help you establish your brand identity and inspire travelers to book with you.

Be creative. You are selling specific experiences; your photos should reflect the destinations and activities you offer. Use scenic shots in moderation, instead feature people to help evoke emotions to website visitors. People connect with people. To give travelers an idea of what to expect from a tour, show people who resemble your target audience. If you serve all ages make sure to include a mix of ages whenever possible. Additionally, include candid shots of your team interacting with groups; doing so will show their personality and their expertise. 

Avoid using stock photos. They are less authentic and can lead to feelings of mistrust. If you have to use stock photos, look for more unique images that are consistent with your brand and look natural rather than staged. There are many stock photo providers online that feature royalty-free images. Unsplash, iStock and Pixabay are three that have a wide variety. Remember to make sure to use stock photos legally by knowing the terms of the licensing agreement, for example, some photo websites do not allow image altering. Always provide photo credit for images that you do not own.

In an effort to avoid using stock photography, consider other options for collecting photos for your marketing endeavors. The most obvious is to hire a professional photographer to showcase your business, however this option comes with a price tag. A better investment is in a quality smartphone. Most smartphones have camera tools that are designed to help you take great photos. Options like auto focus, burst-mode for action shots and grid lines to help visualize the photo’s composition are just a few ways you can take professional-looking pictures at every destination. Finally, ask travelers in your groups to share their photos with you, with the understanding you will re-post the best shots. Using shared photos lends to authenticity of your tours and will keep a steady stream of fresh images for you to feature. Keep in mind that quality counts, especially on your website. Use only high-resolution photos; do not use grainy or distorted images.

A picture is worth a thousand words; for travel planners a picture can be worth thousands of dollars!