Analysis - August 8, 2011



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August 2011


Print Marketing ,

The Power of Photography in the Digital Age

With digital cameras, online sharing, and tools for improving, transforming and distributing images, the photograph remains an indispensable means for capturing intangible memories like travel experiences. It can also be the deciding factor in arousing interest in a destination, attraction or hotel. Up to 78% of people say that pictures of hotels and hotel rooms play a decisive role in the selection process, even more than online client evaluations. Although video may offer more possibilities, photographs still play an essential role. But go easy on the touch-ups … customers have a keen eye!

The influence of images on the choice of destination

Travel and photography have long been intertwined. Photographs seem to concretize experiences and allow them to be shared. But with the Internet, the notion of “sharing” has taken on a new dimension. We used to show our photo albums to friends and family or hold a slide show on our return from a trip. Now the presentation of travel pictures has moved from the private to the public domain, and often in close to real time, with instant messaging, online photo albums, blogs and social networks.

Travel photos shared with friends on Facebook can be very persuasive. According to Skyscanner, a flight comparison site, more than half (52%) of Facebook members say that photos uploaded by friends inspire them to book a holiday in the same location. As noted by Sam Baldwin of Skyscanner, viewing our friends’ travel photos on Facebook plants a seed in the mind and gives us travel ideas.

A study by and eResult on hotel selection criteria reveals that photographs have the greatest influence on 78% of respondents, after online client reviews (67%) and star ratings (59%).

Matching images to customer segments

At the ITB Berlin Congress in March 2011, Markgraf and Scheffer presented the results of their marketing communication study and showed how they applied their findings to images in advertising brochures. Working on the assumption that up to 95% of our decisions are subconscious—arising from our personality, values, needs and desires— they concluded that a tourism ad aimed at the family should emphasize harmony and the interaction between family members, and depict a place where family members are happy in one another’s company. The images below, for this type of market, show the evolution of the visual imagery.

Source : Neuromarketing at REWE Touristik

The following illustration shows the same exercise for a different market: financially comfortable couples 40 and older without children, in search of an aesthetically sophisticated, quality establishment.

Source : Neuromarketing at REWE Touristik

Using images to advantage

Tourism Australia created a map of the country from photos or “experiences” of travellers in Australia. This approach encourages Internet browsers to plan their visit inspired by the photos and comments of Australian travellers (click on the link below the image for a better grasp of the concept).

Source : Tourism Australia

The Room 77 website does for hotel rooms what Google Street View does for streets: it allows users to locate a specific hotel room (upstairs, near an elevator, etc.) and to get a glimpse of the view it offers with a photo or image. To date, Room 77 has mapped approximately 460,000 hotel rooms in the United States, London and Vancouver. The database is also available as a mobile app.

Source : Room 77

Websites can display 360° panoramas, geotag them, and provide a links to related sites (a destination, for example). Certain restrictions apply, depending on the portal. The 360 Cities website, with one of the Web’s largest collections of panoramic photos, is directly linked to Google Earth.

Parc national des Grands-Jardins on via Google Earth.

Show what you have to offer…but just that

Technology offers endless possibilities. But visitors who have been burned by doctored and misleading images exert a strong influence on sites like TripAdvisor and other review portals. The following examples appeared in the Business Insider blog. Click on the link to view various publicity images juxtaposed with the harsher reality.

Source: Oyster dans Business Insider

Cover all the key sites

Finally, according to a survey conducted for the review site TripAdvisor, 92% of respondents are more likely to book an accommodation when there is a detailed description that includes photographs. Hotels have a vested interest in displaying their own information and images on TripAdvisor, in the section reserved for them, as well as on sites like Google Addresses and Facebook, and, of course, their own site.


– Blodget, Kelsey et Jennifer Garfinkel. «Here’s Why You Should Never Trust The Photos Hotels Post Online», Oyster dans, 3 mars 2011.

– Craig, Daniel Edward. «How to optimize Your TripAdvisor Listing»,, 25 mai 2011.

– Guerrier-Buisine, Vanessa. «Selon le portail de réservations HRS, les photos ont plus d’impact que le «bouche à oreille» lors de la sélection d’hôtels»,, 4 mars 2011.

– Koumelis, Theodore. «“Facebook factor” inspires 52% to book a Holiday, reports Skyscanner»,, 25 février 2011.

– Lo, Iris Sheungting, Bob McKercher, Ada Lo, Catherine Cheung et Rob Law. «Tourism and online photography», Tourism Management, vol. 32, no 4, juin 2010, p. 725-731.

– Markgraf, Ingo et David Scheffer. «Trends and Innovations in Marketing Communication and Advertising», Congrès ITB Berlin, 9 mars 2011.


Sites Internet:

Google Earth

Room 77

Tourism Australia


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