Why Tour Photos Make the Best Souvenirs

By Breanna Lawlor

Marketing StrategiesMarketing Strategies

As someone well-versed in the travel industry, what do you believe is the best way to capture an experience? If you’re like many travelers, you’ll agree that tour photos are the most powerful way to capture memories.

There’s something about flipping through photos from a trip that ignites a certain nostalgic feeling. So, why do tour guests want photo souvenirs in the first place? Tour photos help to lock in memories, create positive attachments and foster a connection to travel experiences.

Sure, you could sell branded merchandise, but wouldn’t tour photos of your guests having the time of their lives be even better?

A photograph is one of the best souvenirs imaginable. Photos are personal, demand few resources, and capture both the place and people in a visual way. This gives guests of all ages a fond way to commemorate memories of their travels.

Far better than a trinket purchased in a hurry at an airport, this is why, as a tour operator, you should be offering guests tour photos.

photo souvenir ideas with a couple taking selfie on the beach

What guests think of tour photos

Tour photos can inspire big emotions, which drive travel decisions, meaning you can help motivate bookings with quality photos. As you look at photo souvenir ideas for your activity or tour, consider what is most likely to encourage future guests to book. 

When travelers explore outside of their comfort zone, they embark on powerful memory-making opportunities. By encountering new cultures and ways of life, many people will find themselves feeling more adventurous and outgoing. Photos do a beautiful job of capturing these moments. 

Guests want photos for their memory bank while also having quality images they can share with friends and family. Photo souvenir ideas only become more valuable over time. 

With nearly all travelers having access to a camera on their smartphone, it’s never been easier to take photos on vacation. However, research shows that people who spend all their vacation time behind the camera will not form strong memories of the event. 

This ties in with “selfie tourism” where guests start to see their travel environment solely through their smartphone camera lens. This means they aren’t truly experiencing the trip firsthand. 

In the age of hyper-documentation, Instagram’s impact on travel and the prevalence of “photos or it didn’t happen” mentality, people are itching to share their travels. 

This is where, as the tour operator, you can provide the best experience possible for your guests. You can make them feel like they don’t have to feel like they need to photograph everything so they can live in the moment. This is why photo packages are worth offering because guests value photos.

tour photo souvenir ideas

Photo souvenir ideas to encourage conversions

While not everyone is inclined to read detailed descriptions, most people will look at a tour photo and feel inspired.

Tour photos showing guests enjoying your activities and tours can help encourage future customers to consider your company. Souvenir photos also build up visual marketing material and give you an option to increase user-generated content on social media.

As a tour operator, you can capture the magic of a guest’s experience through souvenir photos. So as they try something new for the first time or overcome a long-held fear, you’ll be set up to capture these powerful moments.

And while guests might be paying for an experience, they’re expecting to return home with exciting, new memories. This is where you come in. 

tour photos in action white water rafting

Imagine this. A guest is all set to go on a white water rafting trip for the first time. Picture them attempting to snap photos along the way. If your imagination is anything like mine, it’s rather comical, right?

As a tour guide, this might be your 100th rafting ride this month. So you’ll be skilled at anticipating the intense turns and rapids. And while you might be donning a GoPro on your helmet, capturing the guest point-of-view, incredible photos might be a little challenging to capture. A photographer on land might be even better poised to capture snap coveted in-the-moment photographs and all the action as your boat races along intense rapids.  

Some activity-based businesses now offer professional photographs or videos for their customers. This gives them the best of both worlds — a picture to capture the event without being tethered to their camera.

Other companies like zip line tour operators include photographs as part of the experience, snapping action shots of their customers and offer photos for sale afterwards.

One popular option is wildlife photo tours in the African Safari. Guests can learn how to be wildlife photographers, observing and documenting wildlife from a safe distance. Photography Tours can be an excellent way to promote eco-tourism and preserve the quality of life for wild animals.

The flexibility of digital photography has made photo-sharing relatively easy and efficient. Plus, your customers will appreciate a custom souvenir they can take home and share with friends and family. 

african safari wildlife tour photos

Steps for making the most of guest souvenir photos

1. Learn how to take great photos

Train yourself and your tour guides to capture a handful of photos of each individual guest. Encourage guides to document a variety of photos that highlight guests experiencing and participating in different elements of the tour. Do you need a DSLR camera or editing skills? Nope. 

You can take images on your mobile device and upload them to a centralized hard drive or virtual cloud location. From here, you make available to guests post-tour through an email link. If you do want to enhance your guest’s experience with professional photography, it’s an investment that can pay off big time.

2. Take a variety of photographs

They say variety is the spice of life, which means tour photos should be full of different angles. As much as your tour and activities allow, aim to take a mix of photos of guests. Tour photos are perfect for capturing the candid expressions of guests as they’re living in the moment. In time you’ll learn what look for when it comes to capturing tour photos of guests. 

3. Capture group photos 

Some tour operators opt to take one or two photos of the entire group to commemorate a tour. 

Inevitably, someone will close their eyes or have an unflattering moment in a group shot. So if you’re planning on sharing quality images with your guests, aim to take more than one group photo. 

Make a point to snap a few tour photos of individual families or friend groups. These moments are fleeting and the value of these photos only increases as time passes. 

4. Keep quality consistent

If you start sharing high-quality images taken with a professional camera, ensure that you keep the types of photos consistent. 

With the exception of taking guest photos on their behalf, using their phone, a guest may feel slighted if you revert to smartphone images. Choose to either make tour photos available for free by wrapping the photo cost into the total cost of the experience. 

While guests pay for an activity or a tour, anticipating a thrill, they want to leave with a memorable experience. Selling them immediately after the tour can cheapen the experience and make the offer appear less genuine. 

5. Brand your tour photos

Watermark your souvenir photos. This helps future guests to connect the dots and encourage future bookings. Provide guests with digital branded photos they can download, with the option to pay for an unwatermarked version. 

This means all of your images will tie back to your brand. Charge for increased quality if guests want print-quality images that they can print to display on their wall.

6. Choosing a photo-hosting provider 

Decide on a photo-hosting service you believe to be intuitive and easy for your guests to use. Already familiar with Google Photos? Great! You can upload images from the tour and send an email link after the tour. 

Some photo hosting platform examples including Smug Mug and Pixieset. And, there are a handful of activity-based businesses, like Fotoflo and PicThrive, offering professional photographs or videos providing tour operators with digital copies their guests can immediately download. According to Fotoflo, providing guest photos can lead to increased guest referrals, customer loyalty and an improved guest experience.

This gives them the best of both worlds — a picture to remember the event without having to take all the photos themselves. 

7. Hire a local photographer

The reason people hire a professional photographer is to have peace of mind knowing special moments will be well-documented.

In addition, by choosing to hire local photographers for multi-day tours in your region, you’re supporting the local community and funnelling revenue back into the area you run your business. Win-win! 

8. Create tour photos for marketing 

Guests are far more likely to trust a company whose images have people in them versus landscape only. Making a variety of tour photos available can increase guest loyalty and repeat bookings.

When you capture these images, do your best to provide guests with immediate download access. In their waiver, you can include a Model Release as well that guests have the option to sign off on ahead of time.

9. Set up a souvenir photo counter 

Post-tour, provide branded USBS with photos pre-loaded or print photos on site and set them up on a souvenir photo counter, positioned strategically to somewhere guests will pass by as they wrap up their tour. 

After an activity or tour wraps up, you can set up a photo souvenir counter for guests to view printed photos or swipe on a tablet so guests can immediately access and download their photos. 

Plus, with so many photographs being captured digitally, having a printed photo of a favourite vacation makes a guest reminisce with every glance. For printing photos. Choose to upload images to the cloud through an email link, it’s one less thing to try and remember after your tour guests have gone home. 

While digital photos are easiest to produce, printed guest photos can continue to delight guests long after they’ve wrapped up the experience. 

10. Promote online reviews

Part of the reason Tripadvisor reviews hold so much weight is because of the photos and firsthand experience associated with them. If guests have photos sent via email, it makes clicking to share a review that much easier.

group tour photo taken while on camelback

Stay connected to guests with souvenir photos 

As a key link, souvenir photos provide create added value travel. Having photos of the experience grants you the opportunity to expand your reach as guests share tour photos. 

The added benefit of taking a variety of tour photos is in having ownership of the copyright and freedom to use the images to promote your tour business. In addition, a souvenir tour photo can spark a conversation that may lead to repeat or referral bookings. 

However, it’s important to ask and receive permission from your guests to use their images in your social feed and website. Flytographer shares more about their approach to leveraging user-generated content with their guest souvenir photos. 

Providing photos doesn’t have to be something you offer for free, especially if it impacts your bottom line. You can sell photos to your guests which might look like creating travel packages where they can choose to buy souvenir photo prints after their experience. 

Guests will be eager to share souvenir photos purchased from their trip. Furthermore, as the tour operator, you’re giving something tangible to take home, heightening the value of their booking. 

Final Thoughts 

Thankfully, you can capture some incredible moments with today’s mobile phones. So, if investing in a higher-end camera is outside of your wheelhouse – not to worry! There are some photography courses designed to teach you how to capture amazing photos on mobile. 

Start by exploring a few hashtags in your area to see what travelers are sharing. You can delve into offering a photo souvenir counter, hiring a local professional, purchasing a DSLR yourself and multitasking as a guide to see what tactic works best for your business. 

See if you can determine which activities and experiences are frequently getting booked. This way, you’ll see if certain tour photos do a better job of promoting the experience. I’ll bet the ones with the highest quality photos are drawing the most interest from future guests. 

The best photo souvenirs are the ones that are enjoyable and memorable — which helps drive more repeat bookings. Be generous and thoughtful with the tour photos you share — your customers will appreciate it.

Want more great ideas for your tour business?

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