As a travel advisor you need great travel photos (and videos) for social media, your travel agency website, and other marketing channels.
You want post inspiring photos and videos to your social media channels, engage with your followers, and be able to to show a potential client a beautiful destination with beautiful photo and video content in your email marketing.
But where are you supposed to find the travel photo and video content you need?
It doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are 4 ways you can get the photos you need to help your social media and other marketing content stand out.
1) Use your own
I always recommend, when possible, that travel advisors use their own photos. There’s no better way to guarantee it’s original than to take it yourself!
Whether you’re traveling on a travel agent fam trip or on vacation, headed to a travel industry conference or taking your own dream trip, you most likely always have your phone with you. Most phones these days have great cameras.
Learn some basic travel photography skills, like how to compose a good photo.
I know that not every travel agent takes amazing photos and videos. After all, we’re travel advisors, not travel photographers.
That’s why I’ll be releasing a free, 5-day email travel photography course specifically for travel advisors. If you want to take better photos on your next fam trip or vacation, get on the list to be notified as soon as available.
Once you’ve taken your photos, you need to edit them. Don’t simply enhance them in iPhoto or Google Photos. Actually edit them.
I prefer Lightroom for photo and video editing. It’s not as complex as Photoshop, but helps you turn photos that are just “fine” into photos that are truly eye-catching. There’s a small monthly subscription fee, but it’s worth it!
Lightroom is available on your desktop, tablet or smartphone, making it easy to edit photos wherever you are. They also have excellent training, allowing you hands-on practice editing photos to get certain results.
Another benefit to Lightroom is the ability to create and use presets. A preset is simply a pre-configured set of edits, sort of like a filter in Instagram.
Applying a preset allows you to make all your normal edits in one click. That way you can achieve a consistent look and feel, and then you can make additional edits if you’d like to get exactly the results you want.
You can create your own presets, or you can access thousands of presets directly in Lightroom. Many photographers also sell presets that you can purchase and use for your own photographs.
> Have beach and resort photos that you need to edit? Purchase our “Summer” Lightroom preset pack here.
If you simply don’t have the time or desire to learn how to edit your own photos, consider having someone edit them for you.
Photo and video editing is one of the social media services we provide at The Savvy Travel Advisor. You can also find editors through freelancing websites like Upwork.
2) Create a library of user-generated content
If you don’t follow your clients on social media, start following them so you see their photos and videos while they’re traveling. Then repost them on your travel channels. This is also a great way to get a few more followers, since most of them will follow you back if they don't already.
You’ll want their permission to re-use their photos on your website and social media. Add that permission to your standard travel forms so you can save their posts and use them later. You’ll soon have a library of client content.
You can also run a contest asking people to submit travel photos and videos of a certain location, like Paris or Tokyo, or type of location, like beaches or mountains.
They can either post photos and videos on social media, using a specific hashtag or tagging your social media account, or you can request email submissions. Each submission is one entry into a random drawing for a small prize, like an Amazon gift card or a discount on your travel services.
If you’re going to run a contest make sure to clarify that entries must be original content only, that they have permission to share. As part of their submission they give you permission to use the photos going forward.*
3) Stock photography
Stock photography falls into two categories, paid and free. Both categories have millions of travel photographs and videos available.
Free stock photography services include Unsplash, Pixabay, and some Shutterstock images. You can download and use photos for commercial use, and your free license also allows you to modify and manipulate (i.e. edit) them.
Paid platforms require you to pay for a license either per photo or for a certain number of photos per month. Shutterstock, Getty Images, and Adobe Stock are all paid platforms, although they do offer some free photos, usually with limitations like watermarks.
Regardless of which stock photo platform you choose, I recommend doing more than entering a search term and downloading the first photo that catches your eye. Even if you use stock photos, you want your travel content to be unique. That's why I recommend editing stock photos (provided your license allows it, you’ll want to make sure you understand any usage restrictions).
Find some photos you like that match your brand’s look and feel. Then edit them further to both make them unique to your brand and to conform to the look you want.
Avoid stock images that are overly edited, saturated, or otherwise “dramatic” unless they exactly match the look you’re going for. They’ve already been edited to the point that any further changes simply don’t look right.
You can also use stock images provided by resorts and travel and tourism boards. Make sure you review any limitations on their use and know whether or not you need to cite where they came from when you use them.
Regardless of where your stock photos come from, I recommend no more than 50% stock photos if possible. Use your own photos the rest of the time.
Free and paid Canva subscribers have access to stock photos, as well as templates and graphics to use them in. If you use Canva frequently it’s worth having a paid subscription.
Whether you’re writing a travel blog post and need some photos, creating graphics for social media, or an infographic for your website, Canva could become your new best friend. It’s fairly intuitive, available on both desktop and mobile, and makes designing almost any visual simple.
Every photo doesn't need to be turned into a graphic. Instead, create a project the size you want, like square for an Instagram post, and drop one of their photos into it.
Canva lets you zoom and move the photo so you have exactly what you want in the frame, and you can either do some basic editing or use one of their filters to get a consistent look. Download the photo as a .jpg and you’re ready to add it to your social media or website.
They’ve also recently added direct posting to the Canva platform, so if you’d like to connect your social media accounts you can push your photos and graphics directly to your account without needing to download anything.
What not to do
No matter what, never do a Google search for an image and use it. Too many people have found themselves on the wrong side of a lawsuit for doing just that.
An image being on Google, or any other search engine, doesn’t mean it’s free for you to use. Make sure you have the right license, even if it’s a free license, and that the license covers commercial use.*
The Bottom Line
While it takes a bit of time to build up a library of travel images you can use, it’s worth the investment. With just a little effort you can have more photos and videos than you could use in a year.
The hardest part will be deciding which of those beautiful images to use next.
Are you ready to attract more of the clients you want to work with so you can run a profitable, successful travel business? If so you’re in the right place. Start by getting your free, personalized travel marketing roadmap.
*This is the “I’m not a lawyer” disclaimer. In no way is anything in this post to be construed as legal advice, and you should alway consult your attorney if you have any questions about licensing or legal use of any image.