Travel Photos Can Be a Travel Agent's Best Tool

Travel photos make people feel closer to a destination and inspire them to visit By: Kenneth Shapiro
Shapiro // © 2016 TravelAge West
Shapiro // © 2016 TravelAge West

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I have a friend who grew up in New Jersey, and he said visiting Los Angeles for the first time was a surreal experience because everything felt so familiar thanks to all the movies and television shows he’d seen.

“There’s no reason why I should feel at home at the Griffith Park Observatory — except that it’s in so many movies,” he said. “In some ways, L.A. is everyone’s hometown.”

Both consciously and subconsciously, images can help people bond with faraway destinations. When I travel — whether to Machu Picchu, Bora Bora or the Forbidden City, among other places — I often encounter a scene that feels incredibly familiar because of all the photos I’ve seen of it. And sometimes that moment can be a bit unreal, as if the two-dimensional image and the three-dimensional reality need to reconcile in my brain. That’s not necessarily a bad feeling — in fact, I think for some of us travel fanatics, it’s addictive.

In this issue’s cover story, “Colorful Croatia,” you can immerse yourself in the beautiful scenery and sights of this amazing country. Sure, some travelers to Croatia might recognize locations from “Game of Thrones,” but they will also be reminded of every fairy tale, movie and TV show that features castles and winding medieval streets. This setting is instantly familiar to all of us, and it can be a draw for travelers who want to experience that location firsthand.

Images can be powerful tools for travel agents, too. Whether you share photos in printed materials, with your email outreach, through social media or in some other way, visual imagery should be a major part of your marketing strategy. With that in mind, we announce our sixth annual Reader Photo Contest. Travel agents may submit up to five of their photos, and our staff will select our favorites. The agent with the top photo will receive a $200 gift card, and second and third place will each receive $100. All selected photos — including those picked as Honorable Mentions — will be featured in the Dec. 19 issue of TravelAge West. Complete rules and instructions can be found on our website, The deadline to enter is Dec. 2.

So, wow us with your photographic skills. It may help us feed our travel dreams.

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