Boost your content user engagement by using your own images and save hefty stock fines

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Tanjong Jara

Tanjong Jara Resort taken with iPhone 6, August 2015

Most travel companies will at some point or other have been whacked for using an image they should not have. Getty is particularly hot and apparently use ‘Waybackmachine‘ to find occasions when you might have made that mistake. That may have cost you £300 – £1500 per photo, ouch! Stock photos are also pretty boring and you can boost your content user engagement by using your own images and save hefty stock fines.

As your users are consuming more imagery than every before while browsing and reading less it is becoming more and more important to use images that your users will find interesting – AKA, not seen before. Let’s face it, we are all pretty tired of stock photos & hey, we are in travel so here is my advice on using images in your content.

  1. Use your own. You go on educationals and holidays so take your phone ( I use an iPhone which is how I took the photos on these pages – with just one click, I’m not photographer!). Personalising your content will boost user engagement and help them further down the sales funnel
  2. Sign up to a Google Photos account. This is Free for ALL your photos and enables indexing so you can always find the photo you are looking for easily. The clever smart phone app ensures that your images are backed up and so if you lose your phone then you will always have a back up of your photos. This App also lets you apply different ‘effects’ ( as per Instagram) and so you can take an ordinary photo and then apply effects such as the image here on the left of palm trees at Tanjong Jara.
  3. Use a computer programme like ‘Snagit‘ or your iPhone App to add text to personalise the photo
  4. Ask Operators that you work with to use their images. While they will probably ask you to attribute them, this can actually work in your favour as you can add a line such as “Image kindly provided by [Name of Operator], one of the many operators we have preferred terms with meaning you are guaranteed to not pay any more while using our services”
  5. Google ‘Free Images’ – there are plenty of sites out there that allow you to use images for free. Some of our favourites are


Above all, for most smaller travel businesses, just don’t be afraid of using a more personal approach to images. Consumers are looking for real connections and using non stock images will not only cost you nothing, but will probably boost engagement with your post.


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A question we sometimes get asked is “ Why aren’t people flocking to my gorgeous new Net Effect website in their droves?’ (or words to that effect 😉 . The simple answer is most likely to be because you aren’t telling enough people where it is! Companies spend millions of pounds chasing top spots on search listings but a specialist travel professional requires a more subtle approach to reach the right audience.

It is important to remember here that

1.  The travel industry is one of the most crowded spaces online, and

2.   your website is a just a tool. It requires operating to do its job and the more skilled you become at this the better it will work for your business.

Your website can be the most lavish looking affair, in this seasons colours and fonts and bursting with seductive imagery but without your hands on input, it’s as effective as a glossy sales brochure left in a drawer.

The good news is that this is something that you can easily change. And all for FREE! Your secret weapons are email marketing, adding content via a blog and of course Social Media. The really great thing is that Social Media puts the smaller business with its personal service at an advantage compared to its larger competitors. It is so much easier for smaller businesses to create a genuine social connection with their customers online than a larger corporate organisation. So time to strike up a conversation!


But before we start, an important thing to remember is that being local is one of your strongest marketing cards so the first task today is to check your Google Business page is doing its job. A Google My Business (previously Google Places) profile is an essential for local SEO. It’s free and will enable you to appear in local search results for queries specific to your products or services and shows clearly you are open for business.

  • Check all the contact, location & opening hours details are up to date
  • Check your photos show you in your best light.
  • Make sure you have completed the verification process for your business.
  • You can also now collect and reply to reviews.

Click here for more info

A new travel blogging platform – Planity

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Some months ago we reviewed BonJournal as a great tool to use for agent FAM trips. I’m still a great fan of Bon Journal and particularly like their IOS app for quickly being able to record moments when on the move. What is going to differentiate travel professionals of the future is their in depth knowledge and advise and clients will want to be able to see that you can demonstrate your knowledge via in depth blogs of places you’ve been. You can of course record these blogs on your own site, but the advantage of using external sites is that you have the opportunity to reach a larger audience.

Planity is similar to BonJournal – but has just launched and offers you another way to record FAM trips and other blogs online.

I like Planity – it’s main difference to BonJournal is that the map of the trip is more visible on reading the blog. Bon Journal’s map appears hidden away unless you are actively looking for it ( the ‘View Map’ link is at the bottom of the contents list for each trip when I think it would be better served at the top of the contents list). The upside of the bonjournal map is it is more interactive than Planity’s map, with the ability to have a full screen of the map and the places that are tagged also hyperlink back to the main article which is useful.

According to Tripadvisor research, 46% of travellers use blogs as an integral part of their planning process. These tools to help travellers record their travels will have a place in the travel research ecosystem of the future and can act as a potential inbound funnel for travel companies wishing to extend their reach