How to Navigate the Destination Marketing Tech Stack

Simply put, destination marketing has changed.

Today’s traveler not only has a more connected network of friends to recommend the next best place to visit, but also the entire web at their fingertips. There are hundreds of sites and apps (and not to mention user-generated content on social media) out there that help inspire travelers.

But on the flip side, us marketers have more tools than ever to help us stand out.

In fact from 2015 to 2016, there was an 87% growth in marketing technology.

And there are so many tools out there, that it can be hard trying to identify the ones that are right for your destination marketing strategy.

So to help you sift through all the tech out there, we went ahead and did some research.

From CRMs to DAMs to visual marketing platforms, we make it easy for destination marketers to understand what all these tools are for and which ones they need.

Take this guide, share it across your team, and keep it handy for whenever you want to evaluate (or just better understand!) your destination marketing tech stack.

How to Get Board Approval for a Visual Marketing Platform

We’ve been to a lot of tourism conferences.

We’ve talked to a lot of destination marketers and tourism brands.

And something that we keep hearing is this: I want to do more, but with the same budget.

That’s why it can be difficult choosing which tools are worth the investment, and give you enough value to justify it in your marketing budget.

And after accomplishing that, you’ve got to convince the rest of your Board too. We want to make this process easier for you.

First off, what is a visual marketing platform?

A visual marketing platform is a system that allows you to

  1. easily find user-generated photos and videos that exist around your brand,
  2. easily acquire rights to them at scale,
  3. and keep all your marketing photos in one place.

Because on Instagram alone, there are 300 million daily active users, and more than 80 million photos are uploaded each day.

Can you imagine how many of these photos are showcasing your destination, hotel, or museum?

We believe in the ROI a visual marketing platform can offer destinations, hotels, and museums — and this is how you’d make a business case to your Board or your manager.

1 | You get access to (thousands) more authentic visuals

How much money do you spend on professional photography? Or on individual stock photos?

Consider this: a visual marketing platform can provide a constantly growing collection of brand visuals, simply because people keep sharing photos of your destination.


And such a platform is also going to give you an easy way to acquire rights to these visuals at scale, so that you can use them in your marketing – everywhere from your website to digital ads to print materials.

That means you don’t have to dip into your marketing budget each time you want specific photos to use in your social media or your website.

And what’s more — these photos speak to people more effectively. User-generated photos have proven to be 20% more influential on purchasing decisions; because they’re perceived to be more authentic coming from customers themselves, not the brand.

Investing in a visual marketing platform means investing in a collection of visuals that grows each day. 

Metrics that demonstrate ROI:

  • Exponential increase in number of brand visuals available for use
  • Reduced cost per visual
  • $5000 saved yearly in commissioned photography*

*metrics CrowdRiff clients have seen

2 | It engages your social community

How important is your online social following to you?

Sharing user-generated photos on social will increase your number of followers (our clients see a 20%-30% monthly growth in followers), and increase their engagement with your brand. After all, you’re commenting on and sharing their photos.

A robust visual marketing platform can surface photos that are already popular on social, as well as some hidden gems you might’ve otherwise overlooked. By sharing these photos, you not only engage with known visual influencers, you also turn every visitor or local into an ambassador for your brand.

And engaging with your community’s photos becomes easier too. Instead of manually typing in comment after comment on each photo, a visual marketing platform can help you select, “like” and comment on multiple photos at a time.

Metrics that demonstrate ROI:

  • 20%-30% monthly growth in followers*
  • Increased engagement on each post or tweet

3 | It turns your website into a more effective marketing tool

There’s no getting away from it: People love visual stories.

And user-generated photos act as visual stories, telling a real person’s travel experience with your brand.

A visual marketing platform not only makes it easy to find these visuals, but easy to incorporate them into elements on your website and showcase them.


Using CrowdRiff, our client Fort Worth chose to devote an entire section of their homepage to an interactive UGC gallery. Users can click into each photo to see the original caption, tags, and poster of the image.


That means more elements to engage with, translating to more reason to stay on the page, and more reason to come back. After integrating user-generated photos on their website, Fort Worth saw a 32% jump in time-on-site.

By creating unique, interactive elements for your website, a visual marketing platform will increase your web performance.

Metrics that demonstrate ROI:

  • 4X increase in time on site*
  • 30% reduction in bounce rate*
  • 19% increase in number of users*
  • 10% increase in pageviews*

4 | It saves you time

Let’s say you want to attract more families to your destination or brand, and you’re looking for a picture that can capture the family experience of hiking in your destination.

Can you imagine how much time you’d take manually searching the web for those specific user-generated photos? You’d have to comb through multiple social channels, searching the same terms and hashtags each time.

With a visual marketing platform like CrowdRiff, you only have to do one search to find everything there. We have lightning-fast searches for multiple attributes (including keywords, hashtag, location, author, channel and more).

Finding visuals to illustrate something like “family hiking” — simplified.

Going one step further, CrowdRiff has integrated with Google Vision, which means the visuals you upload are auto-tagged — that means that once you add them to our platform, they’re automatically searchable, along with all the user-generated photos in your collection.

On top of that, as mentioned earlier, a visual marketing platform lets you comment on multiple photos at the same time, with just the click of a button.

Forget the manual process — time is money, and a visual marketing platform saves you both.

Metrics that demonstrate ROI:

  • 90% reduction in time in finding on-brand social content*
  • 1.5 days saved monthly in social routine*

5 | It helps you drive traffic and interest to your partners

Your DMO is promoting more than the destination — they’re promoting the local businesses and organizations, from hotels to museums to zoos and parks.

A visual marketing platform can showcase photos that locals and visitors are sharing of all the neighbourhood cafes, local galleries, tour operators and independent boutiques that don’t have the horsepower to market themselves the way a DMO can.


Visit Stockton uses CrowdRiff’s calls to action feature, that links photos directly to member listings within their site as well as the local business websites themselves.

That means means a visitor can go from admiring a photo of a freshly baked dessert to making a reservation at that restaurant, in just one click.

Metrics that demonstrate ROI:

  • 20% click-through from DMO website to tourism partners*

So is a visual marketing platform worth it?


When making the business case for a visual marketing platform, share metrics that reflect both the hard dollar savings as well the incredible brand impact that will pay off in the long run.

The benefits listed above ladder up to 3 key things that every marketing leader or Board will care about:

  1. Scale. Marketing teams need to find and deploy more visual content than ever before, and a visual marketing platform enables you to accomplish that easily.  
  2. Savings. Find real cost savings by growing your visual media library with fresh content with social photos obtained with permission, at no extra cost to your organization.
  3. Brand authority. By using these authentic photos throughout your marketing channels, you’ll give people a reason to come back seek out your brand as a trusted authority.

Ready to see for yourself what visual marketing platform can do for you? Request a free visual marketing review with one of our team members, and we’d be happy to show you.

Header photo credit: @enimassej

10 Examples of DMOs Using Visuals In Creative Ways

Here at CrowdRiff, we’re all about visual influence.

And for good reason — visual content captures attention and sparks action.

Visual stories create emotional connections, and lasting impressions.

And for modern brands, a solid visual influence strategy is vital.

But even when you know how important it is for your marketing, it’s still sometimes hard to figure out exactly how you’re going to implement it.

So then you get to thinking: What are other brands doing? What’s working for them?

What can I learn from their successes?

Here we’ve rounded up 10 destination marketing organizations that are doing some seriously creative things with their visuals. We’re excited to share these examples with you.

In this free ebook, you’ll find:

  • the unique visual strategies each DMO is implementing
  • why each strategy is working for them
  • 3 simple ways you can start building up your own visual influence

(and we’ve compiled everything into a pretty nice visual package, if we do say so ourselves!)

Take inspiration from these DMOs to power your own marketing with some of these creative visual influence strategies.

Comments? Questions? Other DMOs you think are doing a great job? Tweet us @CrowdRiff!

Don’t Miss our Webinar with Destination BC!

How can you better attract visitors to your destination?

Destination BC’s figured it out. And their answer lies with an inventive use of user-generated content (UGC) and visuals.

How Destination BC is Using UGC

They’ve created a unique visual trip planner, BC Explorer, made completely from UGC photos from Instagram. Updated weekly, BC Explorer features more than 500 photos from the hashtag #exploreBC, which now has over 1.8 million photos.

Users can create a trip plan through exploring inspirational photos that other visitors have taken and geo-tagged, and saving photos to a built-in map.

We love the way they’ve incorporated UGC into their marketing, and we think their experience can benefit other DMOs and tourism brands.

Join us as we host a webinar with Destination BC on Tuesday, October 4th at 10am PST/1pm EST.

What You’ll Get 

  • Learn the ways Destination BC is using social media to power their marketing
  • Discover how Destination BC created a unique visitor experience with BC Explorer
  • Get a behind-the-scenes look at how they leveraged UGC with CrowdRiff
  • Apply the UCG and visual strategies from their success to your own destination

It’s an event you don’t want to miss. Save your spot, and sign up today.

Hope to see you there!