Ditch the visual cliches to cut through the online clutter

Travel imagery online is becoming a lot more about individual discovery and simplicity, and in the luxury sector exceptional service, Abta delegates were told.

Rebecca Swift, director of creative planning at Getty Images said the traditional cliche blue sky, yellow beaches, primary colour photography often seen on holiday brochure covers was being replaced by more emotive shots, often made to look like they were taken by amateurs.

She said this trend has been driven by image and video sharing sites like Flickr, Vimeo and Facebook and said travel firms needed to find ways of making their images stand out against the deafening background noise of the millions of images being uploaded online every day.

“The issue in the travel industry is there is a cliché style of photography especially with retail brochures. It all looks incredibly generic. The same type of image is used again and again, it becomes a visual wallpaper, you get the sense of the world being uniform. You get quite a static view of travel as a concept.”

Swift said the incredible volume of information being uploaded online is becoming more visual in nature and that this is having a huge impact on the way consumers search for travel products.

She said people no longer trust the perfect brochure images and are looking for something more authentic, something less perfect. This is seeing professional photographers spending hours perfecting how to make their images less perfect looking, more like an instant snapshot taken on a camera phone.

“10% of all images ever taken were taken in the last 10 months. We produce every month more images than were produced in the first 100 years of photography. We are becoming truly visually literate. We are experiencing other people’s experiences through their visual representations,” said Swift.

“If you are in travel you must cut through all of that visual wallpaper by being relevant and engaging.”

Examples Swift picked out from travel that demonstrated the discovery trend were Expedia’s ‘Find Yours’ television advert in the US, G-Adventure’s ‘This is Your Planet’ brochure covers and Kuoni’s ‘Requested By You’ campaign which focused on the individual traveller more than the location and what they get our of travelling.

mystyleThomas Cook’s 2013 My Style affordable beach front luxury brochure (right) was also picked out as an example of this new style as was STA’s recent television ad which splices together a shots of a solo traveller walking towards the camera in a series of destinations around the world.

Swift said this is prompting greater use of images taken as dawn or dusk when exciting things happen as opposed to the full glare of daytime and will often make use of silhouetted people rather than human subjects in all their technicolour glory.

The trend towards simplicity was best illustrated by recent television campaigns by Newfoundland, the Tirol’s So Nah, So Fern promotion and Thomson’s most recent tv advert featuring a young boy talking to the camera about the importance of holidays. Swift also picked out imagery used in the latest Hilton Honours, eayJet and Holland city break campaigns.

She said these all referenced the “visual language” coming out of social media. “It feels very easy on the eye. You are making it look as unprofessional as possible because you are trying to connect with the consumer. It feels simple, not over-complicated.”

Examples of the final key trend – exceptional service – which is associated with the luxury market included images used by Ritz Carlton, Westin, Emirates and Korean Air. Swift said these are very stylised and seek to reflect the nostalgic side of travel harking back to a golden age, much like both BA’s and Virgin Atlantic’s most recent TV adverts have done, highlighting service.

“This is about what the travel company does for you than what the traveller gets out of travel.”

Swift concluded: “The consumer won’t see you in the visual clutter if you look like everything else or if your cliché. Your customers are as visually literate as you are, if not more. If you are not excited and inspired by imagery the chances are that they won’t be either.”

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