woman standing by ocean
January 18, 2024

The Importance of Visual Storytelling in Travel Marketing



As your team looks towards your 2024 content marketing, you may already have a number of campaigns and promotions in development. Whether you’re highlighting a new excursion or creating a campaign around a specific destination, high-quality, compelling visuals can take your marketing endeavors to the next level. Visual storytelling is a powerful way to connect with and engage your audience.

Stories Are at the Heart of Travel

Amidst all the challenges of business operations, it’s so important to remember that the travel industry is one of the most emotionally-centric industries out there. A traveler may be visiting a dream destination for the first time, for example, or revisiting a place of nostalgia. They may be setting out to experience a bucket list adventure, or perhaps they’re desperately in need of rest.

From your social media to your landing pages and blog, visuals can be curated to evoke feelings of wonder and delight. That’s what visual storytelling is all about – presenting visuals that instantly stir emotion, create pause, and reflect the values of your brand. Visuals can include media such as photos, videos, illustrations, infographics, and animations.

National Geographic is one travel organization that clearly understands the power of visual storytelling. Their photography has captivated audiences for over 100 years. After decades of displaying their photography through their award-winning magazine, they’ve brought that same creativity to their digital content. Their NatGeo Travel Instagram currently has over 47 million followers, while their NatGeo handle is followed by over 280 million. 

Compelling Visuals Are Essential for Branding

When it comes to visual storytelling, think quality over quantity. Although your marketing team may feel an urgent need to gain visibility by, for example, outposting others on social media, it’s more impactful to deliver a few thoughtfully developed posts a week than a host of impulsive ones. 

There is so much opportunity on digital channels to connect with your audience – but there are many other images competing for their attention. Taking the time to curate professional, compelling images that align with your brand voice can help distinguish your organization amidst the busyness of the digital world.

And just like every piece of copy you write, your visuals should have a cohesive tone. Over time, your marketing content should have a certain “feel,” where your followers know a piece of content is from you, simply by the tone of the visual and text. As you launch a new year of marketing content, it may be helpful to reflect on your organization’s style guide to ensure all your efforts are in sync.

The visuals you choose should also match the energy of your brand. For example, if your brand is all about adventure, shots of epic landscapes and adventure sports are a perfect fit. If your brand is focused on slow travel, images that capture the beauty of quiet moments – from sunsets to local cafes – are sure to resonate with your audience.

woman sitting on balcony

Visuals Help Optimize Your Content

Integrating visuals into your digital content not only enhances the creativity of your marketing, it can strengthen your SEO and increase engagement across your various channels. In addition to the aesthetics of your visuals, here are some of the factors your marketing team should consider:

  • File format
  • File size
  • Alt tags
  • Image name
  • Mobile-friendliness

Web crawlers, also known as search engine spiders, need help finding your content. Optimizing your images can not only improve your search engine ranking, but it helps make your content more accessible. For example, alt tags are read out loud by screen readers in place of photos, helping visually impaired readers better navigate your content.

Visuals can be a great way to inspire your social media followers or guide a reader’s eye through a blog post or landing page, and these technical elements can help improve your site load times and boost your search engine visibility. Implementing even minor changes, like creating alt tags or adding photos to LinkedIn and Twitter posts, can increase engagement over time.

Visual Storytelling: Authenticity is Key

man and woman sitting near canyon

To maintain trust with your audience, your visuals and your organization should be fully aligned. For a hotel brand, this looks like keeping the rooms and grounds in tip-top shape, so they match their photos online. For a tour company, it means sharing images that reflect the actual locations or meals that will be experienced, and not solely relying on stock photos.

With this in mind, consider how providing helpful travel information can further establish your brand as a thought leader. Whether it’s discovering a landscape in peace and quiet or being able to enjoy a museum at their own pace, providing expert guidance can help travelers experience those dream moments they’re longing for.
For example, when are the best times to see Machu Picchu, the Eiffel Tower, or the Taj Mahal without large crowds? How should a traveler pack for a spring trip to Europe? Highlighting weather insights, pro tips, and sustainable tourism throughout your digital content are all ways you can support your guests’ travel experience.

Explore Smartvel Travel Solutions

Smartvel’s suite of travel solutions are designed to not only inform, but inspire your audience. From gastronomy to theatre and ancient architecture, you’ll find visuals that are professional and thoughtfully chosen to connect with your guests.

For example, the Travel Tips API provides essential travel info in a beautifully curated display. In addition to insights on over 500 destinations, your guests will find information on weather, currency, safety tips, and even what types of device chargers to pack. The Travel Tips API helps bring ease to trip planning and peace of mind while on holiday.

Through visual storytelling, you can connect to the heart of what makes travel so meaningful, and create content that’s inspired and impactful.

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