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Feeling the FOMO


How photo ops drive the travel experience

Bill Gordon
You know what they say about going on vacation: Pics or it didn’t happen. Sure, the groups of tourists who jostle in front of paintings or plazas can be annoying. I even have a fond memory of taking an elbow to the face when trying to see the Pietà. But I’m a little different: when I take photos, they’re usually for my eyes only, not for the ‘gram.
 
But we live in a culture that’s fueled by social media. Studies have shown that more and more, social media and the ability to post about a destination has become a major factor in the vacation decision process. This means that people are thinking about what they’ll post from their vacation before they’ve even planned it.
 
Destinations who keep this in mind or at least play to it have seen extremely positive results. One perfect example of this is the What Lifts You Mural in Nashville, TN—known for lengthy lines just for the chance to snap a pic against a wall. Sure, it’s a very beautiful mural, but in a city littered with historic concert venues and music museums, it’s remarkable for this attraction to rank just outside the top 50 on TripAdvisor’s top things to do in Nashville.
 
This is just one example, but the success of “Instagram walls” or experiences that focus on their snap-ability means destinations, as well as hotels and restaurants have an opportunity to enhance their visitor experience. Should it be the sole premise of a new venture? Absolutely not (though some places are making this a reality), but at the same time, it can help enhance a brand’s presence in social—and in the real world. I’m not saying that every empty wall in every town should be plastered with a mural, but the results are undeniable. A well-manicured garden, an illuminated streetway, a funky statue, or a public swimming pool filled with playpen balls (I’m riffing) can all be places for photo-hungry travelers to flock.
 
Watch for it. Whether it’s influencers, sponsored posts, or the repeated use of branded hashtags, the FOMO induced by photos of experiences like these have a very real impact on trip planning behaviors. That little app on your phone that shows you photos of what other people are doing has more of a hold on people’s wallets, and their behavior, than we even realize. And hey, we’re marketers. Let’s use that to drive visitors.
 

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