The Traveler's Digital Journey


While nothing captures *my* imagination quite like the written word, I know I’m in the minority. 

With social media, photos and videos are as powerful as they’ve ever been.

With smartphones, taking and sharing those photos is more possible than ever.

And with tourists and travelers sharing their journeys, creating and capturing authentic moments is more popular than ever.

So, it brings us to today’s question: 

How will you show off your tourism brand?

To really “talk tourist” and turn potential customers from browsing into buying, you’ll have to make an emotional appeal. High-quality, professional (when possible) photos will help you deliver that appeal in whichever medium you’re promoting yourself on, whether it’s flyers being handed out at expos or your daily social media posts.

It’s better to view this as quality over quantity, especially in the beginning. Focus first on getting the messaging right, then you can focus on getting the message across in different ways.

To fully share what it is you do, the following photos will set your tourism brand apart:

  • The hero photo - This single photo will catch their eye, summing up your whole experience in a powerful, engaging way
  • The highlight gallery - This small mix of photos that show more about your offer (like the different stops on a tour, or the different amenities at the hotel)
  • An emotional snapshot - This look into the emotions of your company (the surprise of a mountain bike descent, or the dreamy romance of a couple on a getaway)
  • The experience - People like to see themselves reflected, so share photos of tourists in your ideal customer range (diverse solo travelers, families, couples)
  • The personality - You are your brand, and it’s your story we want to hear, so make sure to have a nice photo of yourself on your site and profile pages.

Where is your traveler on their journey to you? 

Once you’ve established your tourism brand through visuals, you may look for how to start sharing more regularly.

For that, I’m going to reference a bit of old school marketing (with a tourism twist). In marketing, the Buyer’s Journey (Awareness -> Consideration -> Journey) tracks a customer’s path from finding out about a product or service to purchasing that product. 

For tourism, let’s call it the Traveler’s Digital Journey (TDJ). We can break it down based on five fundamental phases that your brand should consider:

  1. Dreaming - the traveler is thinking about a trip, but without a solid idea of when or where
  2. Planning - the traveler has found a destination, and is putting together the plan for activities, accommodations, and the rest of the adventure 
  3. Booking - the traveler has narrowed down their favorite possibilities and is committing 
  4. Experiencing (3 parts) - the traveler is getting ready to arrive, experiencing the activity, and reflecting on that experience
  5. Sharing - the traveler is sharing their trip*

[*Sharing can actually happen anywhere along the journey. While it feels most automatic at the moment of the experience (“Checking in at my hotel!” “Just hiked Machu Picchu!”), consider who posts pictures like “Dreaming of a trip to Peru!” then “Hit me up with your Lima restaurant recs!” and “6 days till the big hike!”]

As you consider your photos and what you’ll share, see how they line up with the 5 stages. Here are some examples of what that could look like:

  1. Dreaming - At this point, the traveler may be thinking of broad ideas (traveling as a couple, going hiking), but still doesn’t know the place.
    • Consider: Landscape photography, urban shots, anything that captures the essence of your destination and invites a traveler to find out more
  2. Planning - At this point, the traveler is coming toward you, but not yet to you, specifically. Here you’ll start to share more about your story and the experience.
    • Consider: Photos of your experience, and the ideal customers participating in it.
  3. Booking - At this point, the traveler chose you! They’re transitioning from the logistical part of their journey to the emotional one.
    • Consider: Photos of the emotional and unique parts of the trip, like expressions of surprise, delight, or contentment. 
  4. Experiencing - At this point, your traveler is coming to you - or may even be there already!
    • Consider: Recent photos or videos of people enjoying to give a sense of being in the moment.
  5. Sharing - Remember, this can happen at any point in the trip. People can share and send the photos and videos you’re posting, just as they’ll share and send videos while they’re at your destination, and how they’ll look back after the trip is done for even more.
    • Consider: Keeping in mind the rest, also consider how you can facilitate their sharing. Is it offering to take the photo of a solo traveler at a museum or monument? Or offering a photo service during the thrilling part of a white water rafting adventure? Helping travelers to take photos they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to take is key.

It’s in the sharing that we get a sneak peek at tomorrow’s lesson: leveraging user-generated content to grow your own tourism brand!

But first, our exercise for the day (you didn’t think I’d forget our homework, did you?)


Today’s exercise:

We’re going to practice thinking about photos in the context of our new favorite framework:  

Your Traveler’s Digital Journey.

Start by filling out the first two categories:

My tourism project:

My destination:

And what’s one photo or video you could share that would fit into each of the 5 stages of the Traveler’s Digital Journey?

Dreaming - _____________

Planning - _____________

Booking - _____________

Experiencing - _____________

Sharing - _____________


Next up, we're focused on user-generated content, reviews, interactions, and more.

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