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Is a good photo the only way to sell an attraction?

When you market attractions, it’s natural to want to show that attraction in advertising. The curator spent hours getting that exhibit together. Your boss spent millions on that new ride. Everyone loves that vista. It feels almost unfair not to show these things.

But especially this year, relying on photography may be a challenge. Chances are good you weren’t able to shoot during peak season last year, so you may have stretched the use of the best of past imagery to wear-out levels. Even if you have shots, you’re probably asking questions like whether or not visitors should be shown wearing masks. (That’s something that could change minute by minute this year!)

But are photos your only choice when marketing destinations?

One of advertising’s most famous adages is to “sell the sizzle, not the steak.” The product itself isn’t the story. It’s the emotional benefit that the product brings. For example, if you’re an amusement park with a “drop” ride, is it the length of the drop that’s compelling (something only the biggest parks might want to highlight) or the adrenaline rush (with which we can all identify)? For smaller parks, a shot of the riders themselves—or maybe even just their recorded screams of delight—might communicate the benefit, without the need to show the ride at all.

Second, even in the best of times, getting photography that lives up to the live experience is a challenge—and the wider the framing it requires, the more difficult it gets. Use models, and it can require a number to bring the experience to life, which gets expensive. Use your own personnel, and there are issues of coordination. Use actual visitors, even with blanket clearances, and you lose a lot of control over who is shown. Is it any wonder that many attractions have a library of shots almost entirely devoid of people?

Here are some things to think about:

  1. Is the pleasure of the experience really the equipment or the exhibit, or is it the interaction? The attached ad won us awards, yet was rigged to show just a single rider. It communicated the fun of the amusement park experience without focusing on the rides themselves.

  2. Action shots don’t have to involve a lot of people. Point-of-view angles can create excitement while reducing the number of actors required, and the close-ups that result can be more enduring and compelling than side views.
  3. Graphics can be an alternative to photos of any sort. Animated graphics are relatively inexpensive to produce, use less bandwidth where you may have limitations in internet applications and may help to give brands a bit of the unexpected.

One last point: We’re believers in a strong photo library, so don’t get us wrong. (At some point here, we’ll discuss building photo libraries.) But don’t be afraid to step outside the contours of typical attractions marketing and zig where others zag—especially in a year where we’ve all done our share of zigging and zagging.

Care for an informal chat? Everyone’s situation is unique, so the above advice may not apply to you—or you may need help applying it. If you’d care to reach out, it costs nothing to get to know us. Contact us:




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