When researching vacations, travelers are drawn to visual content that depicts scenes in which they can imagine themselves. That often means casual, affordable experiences are more compelling – though less so with Millennial and Gen Z travelers.
These are just some of the findings of a recent study that looked into how imagery influences travelers' purchasing decisions by stock photo provider iStock.
"Through our ongoing VisualGPS research we have been able to unlock visual cues that shape travelers' choices, allowing us to help small businesses navigate the crowded visual landscape and understand what drives their audiences," said Jacqueline Bourke, creative insights director at iStock. "From the rise of experiential video to the growing preference for relatable and affordable experiences, our study aims to help businesses craft compelling visual narratives that speak to travelers everywhere.
Here are some of the main findings:
- In the U.S., 76% of survey respondents said they prefer visual content that depicts situations in which they can imagine themselves, family, and friends, enjoying the destination;
- Tip: Diversity is key here. Be sure to reflect the diversity of your clientele to appeal to a broader base.
- 74% of total respondents said they prefer visuals of casual and affordable experiences; however when broken down by demographic that number is much higher for Boomers/Gen X (83%) vs Millennials/Gen Z (63%);
- Tip: Emphasize the experiences people can have in a destination, rather than just showing the destination.
- Only 18% of total respondents said they prefer images of luxury escapes and glamorous purchases
- Tip: The role of aspirational imagery seems to be on the decline; prioritize images and experiences that are relatable, not aspirational.
- Nearly 60% of Boomers showed a distinct preference for travel imagery featuring locals rather than tourists; the opposite was true for Gen Z – only 47% showed a preference for imagery featuring locals;
- Tip: Use real imagery of local culture, traditions, and people for Boomers and Gen X, but focus on younger tourists having fun if marketing to Millennials and Gen Z.
- Travelers prefer video, a trend that's been steadily rising – 33% of respondents still consider photos significant, but 51% indicated that video content has a greater influence.
- Tip: Incorporate more video where you can. Use short videos taken on your phone during your own travels.