Speaking at a marketing and innovation forum at the Abta Travel Convention, marketers debated the change in imagery used by the industry to help entice customers and sell their products.
Recent trends outlined by Getty Images director of creative planning Rebecca Swift prompted a re-evaluation of the visual element of marketing.
She pointed towards the move away from traditional professional photography and the bright sunshine and blue skies of the old travel brochures and websites to imagery influenced by the way people take pictures of themselves for social media, such as Facebook.
She also highlighted the sheer number of images now created daily by people and how companies were in the middle of a “visual bunfight” to try to get attention.
Recent television advertising campaigns for Expedia and STA Travel were singled out as inventive and engaging and different from the norm of travel ads.
Alistair Daly, chief marketing officer for online travel agent On The Beach, said customers wanted to see “authentic” imagery.
“All our customers go to TripAdvisor to look at real photos of our hotels. They don’t believe the brands that say the room ‘looks like this’”. They need to see it for real and we can see exiting traffic from our site going to review sites.
“We are trying to sell a dream but people are going off to see if what we are telling them is the truth.
He added that On The Beach had to embrace this and incorporated TripAdvisor into its own site.
Tim Williamson, former commercial director of TUI Travel and now CEO of escorted holiday company The Travel Department, said his aim was to get as much user generated content from his customers as possible. He said the holiday-maker’s own pictures and testimonials were the most powerful marketing tool.