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Why Visual Story Telling Isn’t Happening

empty-picture-frame-pngblack-frame--empty--choo-choo-clan-art-gifts-hltwg5a0Why Visual Story Telling Isn’t Happening

It’s a strange contradiction. We’re told visuals drive bookings, traveler interest.

We hear that travelers looking to book will be compelled to do so by rich images that tell the kinds of stories we want to buy into.

But the visuals we typically see are sterile and empty.

VFM Leonardo,  a leader in online visual story telling, reports on the top ten visuals shoppers want to see on a website, before they actually book a hotel room or a destination.

The smart money tells us that travelers don’t book a hotel room.
They book a story. They book an experience.

They buy into what the hotel and travel destination stand for; provide.
Could be romance or adventure; great cuisine or a rich family experience.

Clients buy into lively, strong visuals (stills, video, customer photographs) and not text-heavy websites.

Yet, VFM Leonardo, in its report on what visuals travelers want,  shows us images of empty guest rooms, lobbies, business centers.

New Media Travel, in a post called No More Boring Hotel Websites, Please argued strongly against these kinds of images.

And Travel Video PostCard, a leading supplier of short-form (1-2 minutes)  videos to the travel industry, long held that video engaged travelers looking to book more compellingly than text or print.

But even though VFM says, “when travelers are combing the Internet for the perfect hotel, they are engaged by dynamic visuals,” why do their examples show the opposite?

Regardless, the company does a great job in guiding travel professionals into more effective use of visual story telling.

That the hotels may not still get the message is likely as frustrating to VFM as it is to us.

Top Images for Travelers
• Guest room
• Restaurant
• Recreation area
• Lobby
• Map
• Pool

Obviously travelers want to see images of the place they use the most. What they want to see in them is a different story.
Seeing nothing may be safer, but certainly not story telling.

About Kaleel


  1. Thank you for your interest in our recent research on the top 10 images travel shoppers want to see online. The points you make are valid, but do not address the real issues.

    The post you reference speaks to a specific problem we see all the time – hoteliers selecting an exterior photo of their hotel as the first media item to display online. Hotel shoppers don’t necessarily care what the exterior of a hotel looks like – based on our research it ranks #9 in the top 10. Guests want to see what the guest rooms look like – so much so that guest room photos are viewed 2x more than the next popular category (restaurants). The point is, hotel marketers need to move away from this practice and instead start paying attention to what consumers are longing for.

    Visual storytelling is more than just photos, and whether or not people or activity is captured in those photos. It’s about sourcing a variety of different media types – videos, virtual tours, user generated content, etc. – and spending the time to carefully curate and order these media items to tell a story that is both engaging and unique.

    Telling a well-rounded story is important for creating a connection with travel shoppers as they shop online. But in order to make that connection, hoteliers need to make a good first impression.

    • Thanks for taking the time to write in. Appreciate it. The post generated a lot of interest here and on Technorati Travel home page and Tripatini ( judging from the unusually high number of Tweets.

      Your comment, “The point is, hotel marketers need to move away from this practice and instead start paying attention to what consumers are longing for,” seems to beg the question. I have listened in on a few VFM Leonardo webinars and heard very decidedly that “what consumers are looking for” are, in fact, rich, vivid, compelling images that tell a story; that engage would-be bookers.

      What I think happened is that in the attempt to make a terrific point (how consumers rank images relative to what they want to see), you neglected to show those that accomplished that purpose, and that were also dynamic and compelling.

      With respect, it seems you’re arguing against what VFM has been preaching: the virtue of enriched visuals to tell stories.

      At any rate, I continue to follow your work with great interest and hope we may yet meet up.

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