20 Visual Marketing Statistics You Need to Know [Infographic]

Let’s say it’s the end of your work day.

As you unwind before your commute home, you take a few minutes to scroll through your Instagram… and there it is.

One of your co-workers recently posted a shot of a mouthwatering burger. Everything, from the perfectly toasted bun, to the crisp lettuce over the beef, looks flawless.

You check the location — it’s from the new cafe that opened up right down the street from your office!

The next day at work, when your stomach starts rumbling for lunch? You remember the cafe… and head right over to grab a burger of your own.

In doing so, you’ve actually just carried out a very specific consumer behavior. We call it visual decision making.

Every day, people are making decisions like what to do, where to go, and what to buy based on the visuals they see.

For brands, this trend opens up a world of opportunity to attract, engage, and inspire more people to take action.

Visual decision making is happening now, and these are the stats you need to know.


Feel free to share and embed this infographic:

<a href="http://bit.ly/2k9wk21" target="_blank"><img src="http://crowdriff.com/wp-content/uploads/20-Powerful-Visual-Decision-Making-Statistics-Thatll-Change-the-Way-You-Do-Marketing-jan-17hq-1.jpg" alt=“Visual Decision Making Statistics CrowdRiff Infographic"/></a>

(Skip to next section: How Marketers Can Capitalize on this Trend)

Visual Marketing Statistics

43% of consumers are influenced to purchase by photos they see on Instagram. (Source)

People who shop on their phones say images are the most important feature. (Source)

Instagram users are 70% more likely to purchase a product online. (Source)

Shoppers who view video are 1.81X more likely to purchase than non-viewers. (Source)

46% of consumers say their purchasing decisions are influenced by Pinterest photos. (Source)

The brand Adore Me saw a 4000% increase in Pinterest-referred revenue after using Promoted Pins to reach new customers. (Source)

88% of consumers have purchased something they’ve pinned. (Source)

64% of women say images influence their purchasing decisions when shopping for apparel on mobile. (Source)

67% of product users say images are very important when making a purchasing decision. (Source)

Using a video on a landing page increase conversions by 86%. (Source)

63% of consumers said good images are more important than product descriptions. (Source)

53% of consumers found images more important than ratings or reviews. (Source)

60% of consumers are more likely to consider a business whose images appear in local search results. (Source)

Including a photo next to an item on a restaurant menu increases its orders by 30%. (Source)

Colored visuals are proven to increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%. (Source)

Only 10% of heard information is retained three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, 65% of the information is retained three days later. (Source)

90% of information sent to the brain is visual. (Source)

65% of people are visual learners.  (Source)

The average person reads only 20% of a web page, but will view every image. (Source)

How can marketers capitalize on visual decision making?

Your audience is being inspired by visuals: therefore, you need to build your brand’s visual influence.

Tell your story and market your brand with visual content, and connect with your audience through the language that speaks to them most.

Must-read articles on visual influence: 

CrowdRiff’s visual marketing platform helps hundreds of brands optimize their visual content to cater to visual decision making.

Discover the visuals people are using to make decisions about your brand right now.

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8 Actionable Ways to be More Effective with Your Visual Content

What’s the simplest way to connect with your audience?

If you’re thinking “visual content,” that’s spot on.

Consider that most people only remember 10% of information they hear after three days. But when a relevant visual is presented alongside the same information, people will remember 65% of it.

So if you can leverage visuals to the fullest, you have access to the most powerful forms of influence: visual influence.

Here are eight actionable ways to make your visuals go further:

1 | Add text to say more with your photos

While great visuals speak for themselves, adding text to photos allows you to say even more with the images you share online.

Choose striking visuals that will grab your audience’s attention to overlay with relevant text. That is, use showing and telling to convey your message more quickly and clearly.

Take this tweet for example:

Embedding Amrita’s quote into the image allows us to say more without cluttering up the tweet.

And this isn’t just restricted to social media. Visit Pensacola does an amazing job creating photo buttons for their navigation.


Tools like Pablo make it easy to combine stunning visuals with text to get the most from your visual content.

2 | Get creative with collages and photo grids

Collages and photo grids are an excellent way to showcase a variety of images on your website and social media pages. Presenting a range of visual content in one place offers your customers a more immersive visual experience of what your brand’s all about.

Visit Franklin does this well with a curated photo gallery on their home page


Another opportunity to make visuals more effective on social media is to simply include multiple photos in a single tweet or Facebook post, like Destination Cleveland does here:

Why include only one photo in your tweet, when you can include four?

3 | Combine calls to action with images

Now, you’ve probably made use of images as buttons, but how about the other way around? Why not put more of your visuals to work by embedding links in your photo grids and collages?

When you display lots of visual content, people tend to get inspired. Seize the moment by using your visual content to lead website visitors to take the next step. 

For instance, DMOs can embed links to relevant local businesses, like Love Beverly Hills does in the photo gallery on their hotels page, so as people explore these photos and get inspired, they’re easily guided to take the next step.


Interested in CrowdRiff’s CTAs?

4 | Include keywords in filenames and alt tags

Image filenames and alt tags are only visible behind-the-scenes, but they still impact the effectiveness of your visual content.

Include the name of your brand or organization, along with relevant keywords, in alt tags and filenames, and you’ll rank higher in search.

Paying attention to naming conventions for image and video files will help search engines identify and categorize your visuals more effectively. This is important for SEO and makes it easier for more consumers to discover your content online.

5 | Balance authentic and aspirational content

Pairing professional content with user-generated content (UGC) boosts the effectiveness of your visuals by 28%.

The secret to this success lies in the combination of authentic and aspirational visuals.

Showcase the professional photos you already commission next to the real, everyday shots from your fans on your website and social media channels. These aspirational visuals show potential customers what they could be experiencing, while curated UGC offers a look at the authentic experiences of your current fans.

This is the best way to build visual influence, which will help you inspire more people to take action.

6 | Don’t be afraid of video

Did you know that 92% of mobile consumers share video content with others?

Branded videos can help build relationships with viewers, encourage engagement, and score more social shares.

Tara Hunt shares her insights about video for travel organizations:



See full-size image here.

The influence of video content is still growing. In fact, Cisco projects that global consumer internet traffic from videos will account for 80% of all web traffic by 2019.

7 | Embed Pinterest “save” buttons in your photos

Adding Pinterest buttons to photos on your website helps spread your content across multiple platforms. Although it might not make sense for all your visuals, allowing visitors to pin images from, say, your blog is a great way to expand your reach.

The option to pin a picture can spark interest from website visitors that might not otherwise engage. These ‘Pin It’ buttons make it easy for anyone to save and share your content – and can even inspire would-be travelers to start a Pinterest board for your destination.

Check out this guide to see how it’s done.

8 | Reuse visuals across different marketing channels to create a consistent online presence

Let’s say you have a really great photo from a recent event you hosted. So you share it to Instagram. But that same photo can also work on other social channels like Facebook or Twitter, and perhaps even on your website.

If you’re working with a user-generated photo, you can consider creating a gallery (like we mentioned in point 2) especially for showcasing authentic social photos for your website.


This is a gallery featured on the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis‘s website, for example.

Sharing your best visuals across multiple platforms not only extends the lifecycle of your content, but it also helps establish a consistent and recognizable brand presence.

A visual marketing platform (like CrowdRiff!) will simplify this process and make it easy to be consistent across all your marketing channels.

Now over to you

Don’t miss out on the full potential of your visual content! We hope these tips have been helpful going forward with your visual influence strategy.

Visual content can be so influential, and in the hands of a savvy visual marketer, infinitely powerful.

Want to learn more about getting the most out of your visuals? Subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter to get the latest in visual marketing, UGC, and visual influence sent straight to your inbox.

How to Find Micro-Influencers Using CrowdRiff

Influencer marketing has become one of the biggest marketing buzzwords lately.

Most of the time, marketers approach this strategy by reaching out to people with large followings.

But we’ve actually found that the companies we work with have grown their audiences and engagement by activating the micro-influencers.

They may only have 200 followers, not 2000, but a lot of the time they hold even more influence with their connections, than big-time bloggers.

These are the everyday people excited about your brand, and sharing photos online for their families and friends — people they have real, personal relationships with.

If you activate enough relationships with these micro-influencers, you can reach the same size audience as you would with traditional influencers — with a potentially better return too.

CrowdRiff can help you find the right micro-influencers

CrowdRiff’s visual marketing platform pulls in photos from all over social media, and arms you with powerful search, sorting, and organization functionality.

It’s so much easier to find the active users, large or small, that are sharing photos about your brand with CrowdRiff, than manually scouring the web.

This is how you find micro-influencers using CrowdRiff:

Step 1 | Add strategic tracking terms

CrowdRiff brings in photos to your collection by tracking hashtags, geolocations, and users that you choose.

But besides tracking your brand hashtag, there are more unconventional terms you can track in order to pull photos from micro-influencers into CrowdRiff. Try thinking outside the box with these prompts! 

“Insider” photo-op spots

You know your destination best — where do people like taking photos? Think trendy local spots — not just commonly known tourist attractions.

Within your location, there are specific spots that people who are active on Instagram flock to — whether that’s an aesthetic coffee shop or a wall of street art. These locations become trendy within the Instagram community.

If you’re stumped on which locations to track, do a quick search on Google — “most Instagrammed places in [your destination]” — and add those locations to start pulling in those photos.

You can also keep an eye out on your existing visual collection in CrowdRiff, to keep your finger on the pulse of what and where people are sharing photos, and get a sense of what’s trendy.

Crowdsourced accounts

A lot of Instagram accounts out there are now created with crowdsourced photos (or user-generated content).

In other words, their feeds are made up of reposts from other active Instagram users.

crowdriff micro-influencers-toronto

crowdriff micro-influencers-markham

These food-themed accounts, for example, curate photos different people have taken all over these cities. You can also find fashion accounts, photography accounts, etc. Most of these accounts source their photos based on location.

If you explore these crowdsourced accounts for your location, you can find the names of these talented photographers and micro-influencers in the captions. These are people you can consider reaching out to.

You can also consider looking into related destination marketing accounts for your location. 

If you’re a state DMO, track the accounts of your cities. If you’re a city DMO, consider tracking your state or county’s account.

By tracking these crowdsourced accounts, you can discover the micro-influencers other accounts have already found.

Step 2 | Sort each tracking term by likes

Now that you’ve pulled in a good collection of photos, it’s time to sort them by likes to surface the photos taken by micro-influencers.

You can do this in two ways:

  1. Sorting your entire collection at once
  2. Sorting within each tracking term

We recommend clicking into each tracking term and sorting through there. It narrows down your search, so there’s likely less sifting and scrolling you’ll have to do.

By clicking on a photo in CrowdRiff, you can see how many likes and comments the photo has on Instagram, as well as the number of followers the user has. What you want to look for is a low ratio of both likes to followers, and likes to comments. 


Traditional influencers tend to have significantly more likes than comments — but since people who follow micro-influencers typically know them, they have high engagement in both likes and comments.

Step 3 | Explore influencer accounts

People who are active on Instagram are usually connected with other active users. That means that if you know how to look, one micro-influencer will open up a pool of other active Instagrammers for you to explore.

This is how you do it: Search a known micro-influencer’s username in CrowdRiff to see who else has tagged them in photos. Those other names are likely active Instagram users. 

What’s more, Instagram has “suggested accounts” next to the Follow button on each profile. If you’re on an influencer account, you’ll be able to discover many similar accounts through that feature.

By delving into a micro-influencer’s account, you can also see which niche hashtags they’re using. For example, in Hong Kong, the hashtags #hkig and #hkfood are popular, and in Toronto, #torontoigers. If they’re using these, other active Instagrammers are likely using them too.

You can search these hashtags in CrowdRiff to pull up the other photos tagged with these hashtags, and also add them to your list of strategic tracking terms to pull in more.

Step 4 | Organize photos to keep track of influencers you’ve found

Create a folder called “Micro-Influencers” in CrowdRiff. Then, you can tag each with keywords to sort and label the micro-influencers you’ve discovered.

We recommend sorting them based on their niche (photography, food, fashion, etc.) and/or stage in your outreach (to contact, contacted, working with, etc.). Since you can assign multiple keywords to one photo, you can cross-sort and organize to create the system that best works for you.

Choose one photo from each influencer and label it with your desired tag. Now whenever you want to see the accounts you’ve found, you can search that keyword in CrowdRiff to pull up all the photos (and therefore micro-influencers) tagged with it.


Now it’s your turn

With these tips handy, it’s time to try it out for yourself.

Find the everyday people that love your brand, that hold visual influence with their friends and followers.

Partnering with them will help you amplify their voices, and complement your own visual influence strategy.

From narrowing down Instagram photos, to strategically sorting and organizing them, CrowdRiff’s visual marketing platform helps marketers like you surface micro-influencers.

To see what CrowdRiff can do for you, drop us a line! We’d love to hear from you.


Header image courtesy of: @janiewanders

Further reading:

Small Destinations Doing Big Things with Visuals

Does it feel like the large destinations are always getting all the spotlight?

Sure, they’re doing some creative things, but sometimes that makes it seem like you need their large budgets and resources to keep up.

Today we’re here to prove that with a splash of creativity, a bit of resourcefulness, and the right tools, destinations of any size can do big things with visual content.

These are five small destination marketing organizations (DMOs) that are standing out and inspiring travelers with visuals.

1 | Tupelo, Mississippi 

The proud birthplace of Elvis, Tupelo is a hotspot of American culture, tradition — and cheeky humor. Population: 35,800


The first thing you see when you land on Tupelo’s website? A colorful and rowdy action shot of who else but the King of Rock doing what he does best, across a backsplash of bright orange, yellow, greens, and blues.

With bold visuals, Tupelo is a small DMO that has a strong, enticing destination brand story. And yes, Elvis is a huge part of it.

Almost every page of their website, and on all their social feeds, you see photos and videos of Elvis. In fact, their Twitter personality is one of our favorites ones!

And beyond fun Elvis fandom, their website has a section where users can explore Tupelo through photos locals and visitors have shared:

Small DMOs Doing Big Things with Visuals tupelo

Though their destination size might be small, they have no shortage of user-generated photos to display. Their secret: tracking more than the brand hashtag.

Tupelo uses CrowdRiff to uncover thousands of photos being taken at local restaurants, parks, attractions (such as Elvis landmarks, of course), as well as the ones tagged with #MyTupelo.

Through their creativity with visuals, they’re not only able to show what their destination looks like, but also their culture and values, in a very real and likable way.

2 | Telluride, Colorado

Once a mining town, Telluride is a now a premier ski destination nestled in Colorado’s Rocky mountains. Population: 2,300

Weather and climate are always things travelers consider (especially ski conditions!). Visit Telluride has found an ingenious way of showing interested visitors a (literal) window into their destination:

Small DMOs Doing Big Things with Visuals telluride

Their website hosts webcams that show live photos taken in Telluride throughout the day, so you can see exactly what conditions are like. With your mouse, you can scroll through a time-lapse of these photos. This is the webcam that shows their Main Street.

And it doesn’t stop there. You can toggle between winter and summer themes on their website, which will change the video you see on their homepage. Whether you’re a ski traveler or a regular summer vacationer, they’ll show you what experience you might get through targeted visual content.

In addition, this is another small destination that has tapped into the power of user-generated content with a section dedicated to “fan photos”. They have literally hundreds of visitor photos people can scroll through and explore.

Small DMOs Doing Big things with Visuals telluride-social-hub

3 | Pensacola, Florida

With sunny weather and protected beaches, Pensacola is a popular waterfront destination off the coast of Florida. Population: 52,000

Pensacola’s website visuals do a fantastic job of illustrating their brand. From the blues and sandy colors, you know at once they’re a beachfront destination.

Pensacola’s done a great job of designing their homepage navigation in visual grids:


The visuals capture your attention and draw you in to click deeper into the site. And putting video into that grid is really creative — it’s a small element that really stands out.

They also feature interactive photo galleries on many “Things to Do” pages on their site:


Featuring multiple visitor photos like this gives interested travelers a better picture of the activity, and the gallery format gives them something they can click into and explore.

But Pensacola’s strength is its video strategy. On their YouTube channel they’ve produced over 100 videos, to show tourists the kind of vacation Pensacola can offer.

Notably, they have a fun video series Three-Minute Adventures, where in each video, they explore a different activity you can do in Pensacola — in three minutes. They’ve covered skydiving, paddleboarding, parasailing, and ziplining to name a few.

These quick videos are genius because it’s easy to consume multiple in one sitting (especially with their playlists). But also on the DMO side, they won’t break the bank.

Just goes to show: you don’t need a major destination’s budget or a documentary crew to be effective with video!

4 | Branson, Missouri

Branson is a destination popular with families and known for its vibrant theater culture. Population: 11,000

While Branson might be a small destination, they’ve dedicated a lot to making their website’s visual experience shine.

Small Destinations Doing Big Things with Visuals branson-homepage

What they’ve done exceptionally well is keeping all their visuals up-to-date and relevant. Right now in December, as they’re catering to holiday travelers, Branson’s homepage visuals are completely Christmas themed.

It’s not just their own branded visuals — with the help of CrowdRiff, Branson has curated enough Christmas-specific photos from locals and visitors to fill the (expandable) photo gallery on their homepage.


And with the call to “Share Your Branson Story,” at the bottom of each photo, people grab the chance to get their photos featured on Branson’s official website by sharing even more.

A lot of people might think that smaller destinations don’t have as many user-generated photos available, but Branson completely throws that misconception out the window. With the way they’ve used such a variety of visual content, in our opinion, Branson has created one of the best user experiences we’ve come across.

5 | Franklin, Tennessee

From their culture and history to their music scene, Franklin is proudly “Rooted in Americana”. Population 69,000

Franklin is one destination that centers their marketing around visuals — and they’re doing big things.


When you land on their homepage, an immersive photo of Franklin fills your screen. Below it, you find a stunning collage of visuals, with over 3000 photos you can scroll through.

Their website features 19 of these photo galleries, all showcasing authentic photos from locals and tourists. From web pages to blog content, Franklin proudly lets its fans support their visual marketing.

Franklin, like Telluride and Tupelo, has a social hub where they display visuals people have shared in their location. You can keep scrolling and clicking “Load More”, but you’ll never reach the bottom: that hub hosts more than 77,000 photo and videos!

To power these giant visual galleries, Franklin uses CrowdRiff to track over 100 terms (including hashtags, geo-locations, and users) to bring in content people are sharing from all over the web.


In their guides and Things to Do section, Visit Franklin liberally fills their pages with large, relevant visual content. Their attractions shine when they let their visuals do the talking.

Some might consider Franklin a “small destination,” but with the big way they’re leveraging visual content, they’re definitely a leader in visual influence.

We enable smaller DMOs to do bigger things with visuals

Today’s traveler is a visual consumer — meaning they make their decisions based on visuals.

CrowdRiff enables both large and small destinations to inspire the most people to visit your destination, with a powerful visual influence strategy.

In other words, we help DMOs do big things with visual content.

Get a preview today

Step Up Your Destination Newsletter: Inspiration from 5 DMOs Doing it Right

What’s a good way to stay on top of a traveler’s radar?

Social media, of course, is one way – and then there’s your destination newsletter.

Your newsletter is the perfect opportunity to show off your destination’s highlights and keep in touch with the people that have signed up to get updates from you.

Send an amazing newsletter and these potential visitors will keep discovering more about the unique experiences your destination has to offer.

So, what’s the secret to sending an “amazing” newsletter?

The best destination newsletters are able to inspire people to come and provide the information they need to plan their next visit.

Let’s take a look at these 5 destination newsletters, and see what they’re doing right.

1 | Visit Franklin

We really like the creative use of visuals in Visit Franklin’s newsletter. Even the subject line incorporates fun, eye-catching emojis – and a lot of personality:

Fall in #FranklinTn is calling and it looks good on you!??


Visit Franklin has achieved a good balance between images and text: the layout gives equal weight to the visuals and the descriptions that accompany them.


Best of all, the focal point of the newsletter is the cinemagraph of pouring whiskey at the top. The movement draws readers into the newsletter, creating a sense of realness and immediacy that brings the distillery – and Franklin – to life.

2 | Visit Jacksonville

Short and sweet, this example from Visit Jacksonville is a different kind of newsletter. The single-page layout is simple, clean, and to the point.

destination newsletter jacksonville-florida

It only includes the essentials: their logo, a short message, and a single call-to-action. And the photo collage that follows speaks  the rest.

Overall, this newsletter reads like a personal invitation. The recipient is addressed by name and the message is signed Patty, Jax Lover. In fact, the copy repeats Jacksonville’s nickname, Jax, three times.

Using local lingo and personal language invites your reader to feel like a special guest with insider information – especially when combined with tips about free local activities.

3 | Tourism Toronto

For an awesome example of how to create a more in-depth newsletter, look no further than Tourism Toronto. It’s packed full of content, but doesn’t feel long or cluttered. It includes articles, calls to book now, as well as fun facts, and upcoming events.


This newsletter appeals to a wide audience and showcases events ranging from the Grey Cup to the Toronto Christmas Market. Broken down into easy-to-skim sections, every piece of text is coupled with a relevant visual and a link to more information. 


One of the best things about this newsletter is the seamless use of UGC. Tourism Toronto features “Social Finds” straight from Instagram and promotes the #SeeTorontoNow hashtag to encourage even more engagement from visitors.


4 | Visit Austin Texas

This destination newsletter is certainly easy on the eyes. All the visuals are bright, interesting, and show off the many sides of Austin’s charm.


We love that a simple heading – “Autumnal Eats” – overlays the main image, both of which appeal to the reader’s craving for seasonal comfort food.


By accenting one section with a red background, Visit Austin Texas draws attention to local discounts and free activities. Highlighting event dates and details is an effective way to motivate visitors to book for a specific time.

The newsletter includes three simple calls to action: book now and save, click for more info, and plan a visit – all of which make it easy for someone to go from reading your email to planning their trip.

5 | Choose Chicago

The moment you open this email, you’re captivated with a vibrant photo of the Windy City.


This entire newsletter is black and white, aside from the images, which really makes the visuals pop. Choose Chicago uses stunning UGC found on Instagram to promote its attractions.


The direct call to action to “join the conversation” inspires a sense of community and visitors are asked to participate by using the hashtag #mychicagopix.

On top of being super visual, we like that this newsletter provides tons of ideas and tips to help travelers plan their next visit. It features blog posts, guides, a calednar of events, and links to deals at local businesses.


Plus, Choose Chicago offers their free official visitor’s guide for download right in the newsletter – making it easy for visitors to discover more about the city.

Takeaways for Your Destination Newsletter

Crafting an effective newsletter that inspires and excites your readers requires following the classic writing rule of “show, don’t tell.”

The best way to show readers why they should visit your destination is to start with on-brand visuals and create a newsletter around the visual experience – rather than vice versa.

Whether your destination newsletter features professional photographs, lifelike cinemagraphs, or UGC, visuals allow you to tell stories of your destination’s distinct personality, local events, and seasonal highlights. 

Start with how your newsletter looks, and your readers will see why your destination is the perfect place to plan their next getaway.

We have a newsletter too! Subscribe to get the latest in visual marketing, UGC, and visual influence sent straight to your inbox bi-weekly

Visual Influencer Spotlight: Bill Sycalik and #runningtheparks

Bill Sycalik is the Founder and Chief Running Officer of the National Parks Marathon Project. He’s on a mission to bring people together and experience nature through running. He’s running a marathon in all 59 American national parks and documenting his journey in photos and on his blog. We interviewed Bill earlier this year to learn how he uses social media and visual influence to connect and inspire people all over the country


Mission statement from the National Parks Marathon Project website

We love what you’re doing with the National Parks Marathon Project. Can you tell us about the moment you realized you were going to bring this idea to life?

I was most recently living and working in New York City. While I do love the energy of the city after five years I realized it just wasn’t feeding me anymore. I longed for easier access to the outdoors and nature.

My lease was up in May 2016 and I was planning to move to the Denver area. I was going to take some time off before I settled but hadn’t determined what that would be. I wanted to do something experiential and not just about drinking cocktails on a beach.

As I was surfing the ‘net one day I came across info highlighting this year being the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. My first thought was that I would visit some of the National Parks on the way to Denver.

But that itself wasn’t compelling enough for me. I wanted to experience the parks differently.

I enjoy running long distances completing both marathons and ultramarathons up to the 50-mile distance. I thought that it would be amazing to run 26.2 miles in every national park. That would be an incredible way to see the parks, challenge myself, and inspire others to really get into the parks, not just see them from the overlooks.

Thus, the National Parks Marathon Project was born.

What inspired you to start running marathons in the first place?

I ran my first marathon at the age of 33. I will be 45 years old on 8/17 so while I’ve been running for 12 years I can be considered a late starter to running. I never ran in high school or college and always thought I would hate it. But, I was living in Detroit and wanted to do something to get in better shape and tick “run a marathon” off the bucket list.

Like many I felt it out of reach — something only extremely fit people do. But, I thought, if Oprah can run a marathon so can I.

On October 29, 2006, I completed the Detroit Marathon in 3:49.08. Once I finished I thought to myself, “Oh, I can do better than that….” And that started my interest in marathons which then expanded to ultramarathons.

Any favorite trails so far?

Of course I don’t want any of the National Parks to feel bad because they are all different and amazing in their own right. I will say that Theodore Roosevelt National Park was the most difficult to date. Everything from navigation issues, heat, elevation, water crossings, animals and complete solitude challenged me thoroughly. TRNP is extremely beautiful, diverse and remote.

The sunrise and sunset at Badlands National Park ended up being beautiful despite choppy clouds.

Sunset over @badlandsnps #runningtheparks #southdakota #parknut #nationalparks #sunsets #nps100 #findyourpark

A photo posted by Bill Sycalik (@runningtheparks) on

Had any crazy experiences on the trail?

At Wind Cave National Park I fell. Just tripped and did a roll. Bruised my shoulder but otherwise came out unscathed. I figure that if I fall like that every seven marathons plus 21.5 miles I’ll take it.

I’ve also had to avoid bison on the trail there, and at Theodore Roosevelt National Park (three times!). I’ve also seen bears at Grand Teton and Voyageurs National Park.

Voyageurs was interesting. I had highlighted a trail that I was planning to run. When I asked the ranger about it, she said that the trail is on the map but most of it is underwater. Between the recent rain and the beavers building dams, I wouldn’t get too far before I would have to swim. She suggested another route which required me to hire a water taxi to take me 35 minutes across Lake Kabetogama to another trailhead.

We see you’re posting a lot of photos of the parks, and your runs on social media. How’s sharing the journey been going?

I’m now a little over seven weeks into the trip. I am still trying to find that balance between sharing and enjoying. I want people to realize through my example that it is OK to take some time off. It is not crazy to stop working for a while and enjoy nature, enjoy life! I don’t want people to live vicariously through me. I want them to create their own experiences.

@yosemitenps trails in fall. The beauty you see #runningtheparks. #findyourpark

A photo posted by Bill Sycalik (@runningtheparks) on

I hope my photos and reports can help do that. I also use HootSuite to schedule posts. When I have good internet I schedule a bunch of posts so that I don’t have to do it every day.

How do you think platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter can help Americans value and appreciate their parks more?

Social media allows people to share ideas and information more easily than any time in our past. I have received and given recommendations to other travelers and visitors to the national parks.

Social media is a great way to learn from others’ experience and mistakes. And best, social media enables connection in person easier than ever.

All the people who have run with me on this trip I met through social media. It is a way to bring people together around a subject or activity they care about, in this case running and our national parks.

You can also use social media to learn about issues concerning the parks like proposed construction, logging, pipelines, etc. You can help take action where you feel inspired to help protect these fragile places. The National Parks Conservation Alliance is my recommendation for learning about how you can help.

All that said, it is very easy to get caught up in social media. Putting limits on checking and posting when in or around the national parks is a good idea. That way you don’t get distracted from the experience.

On so many of your posts, you’re inviting people to run with you, or just spend some time in nature with you. How’s the engagement been from this offer?

I’ve had people run with me at six of the nine parks. For three of those parks I had someone do the entire marathon with me. Those are strong runners! It looks like I should have some company for Yellowstone as well.

In addition, at Badlands, someone I met through Instagram wanted to run with me even though he wasn’t going to be there for the marathon day. He and his family were staying in the same campground so we ran our own off-trail route around the buttes and spires near the visitor center. Despite loving both distance running and our National Parks, he said that he would never have gone on that run if I had not been there but was so happy he did. He said he’s definitely going to try to run at future parks as he can.

This is what it’s about — meeting new people and experiencing our National Parks through running.

You mention on your website that one of your core values involves “contribution and impact”. What impact do you hope to make with this project?

There are three things I would like to contribute.

  1. I want to serve as an example to those who might feel trapped by their job, location, or lifestyle that it is possible to make a change. I want people to recognize that it is OK to take some time off and you don’t need a lot of money to do so. I want people to know that recognize their happiness is not measured by the number of things they accumulate.Trying to keep up with what other people have is exhausting both for the person and their bank account. Have what you need, save prudently and use the rest to experience the world.
  1. I want people to be inspired to get out of their cars and see our national parks on the ground. Even if they don’t run, I hope people will at least get out and do a long hike. I want people to see that moving in our national parks is possible for everyone. By getting closer to nature, hopefully people will recognize why these places need to be protected.  
  1. I also want people to see that a plant-based athlete can accomplish great things. One of the very few things that an adult human has full control over is what they eat.It is time for the country to take ownership of what we eat, reach out to organizations which can provide less crazy dietary guidance (like the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) and become collectively the healthiest nation on earth. We are far, far from that.

So, what happens next? You talk about being a “recovering management consultant”. Do you ever see yourself going back to corporate America after this?

While I never say never, I don’t see myself ending up in another traditional consulting or corporate position.

My current thinking is that I would like to work in product development and marketing in the outdoors or athletic industry. This could be gear, footwear, clothing, or nutrition for instance. I would like to work with athletes and users of the products to make them stronger, faster, better. I would also like to leverage my running coaching certifications so maybe I’ll pick up some clients as well.

The other option, which I could do in parallel, is to be an educator in diet and exercise. I choose to eat fully plant-based (vegan) and I feel it would benefit most people to eat the same. I can be an example of what is possible.

However, I know that it is a process to get to that point and my feeling is that we’re lacking proper education. I used to think people just chose to make bad decisions. Now I’m beginning to believe they don’t know any better — which is an education problem, not a willpower problem.

Thanks for taking the time to answer all of our questions, Bill!

You clearly have such a passion for what you’re doing, and that really comes across. We love your vision behind the National Parks Marathon, and especially the way you’re bringing awareness to it with visual influence. Your photos and blog are inspirational. Best of luck!

Connect with Bill

Follow his progress! Yellow pins mark completed parks, and red are still to go.

CrowdRiff is a visual marketing platform that helps brands take charge of their visual influence strategy. To find out how CrowdRiff can help your brand find people like Bill, drop us a line!


Header image from the National Parks Marathon Project website

5 Ways CrowdRiff Helps DMOs Be Better Visual Influencers

You’ve heard the saying, “Looks aren’t everything.”

And in most cases, we’d agree!

However, when it comes to spreading the word about your destination (to attract new tourists and fans), visual influence matters more than ever.

As a DMO, you want to stand out as the visual influencer (or authority) for your destination, and inspire potential travelers with powerful visual stories. You want to be the first place people go to when they want to find out what kind of travel experience you can offer.

CrowdRiff’s visual marketing platform helps DMO’s, attractions, and museums become better visual influencers, to spark powerful engagement, and stand out as the go-to experts in their field.  

These are five ways CrowdRiff helps brands take hold of their visual influence, and be better visual influencers.

1 | Finding your destination’s best UGC photos with powerful tracking and search functions

Every day, people are sharing photos of your destination all over Instagram, Facebook, Twitter (and more). CrowdRiff helps you easily tap into this growing collection of visual content, by sourcing relevant photos into the platform.

Each time someone shares a photo or video tagged with a hashtag or location you’re tracking, it appears in CrowdRiff.

That makes it easy for you as a visual influencer, to stay up-to-date on what people are sharing in your destination. By browsing the photos CrowdRiff pulls in, you can discover the local coffee shops locals are frequenting, the attractions that make the best photo-op spots, and the latest trends in your destination.

“There’s so much going on you find little nuggets of things that are happening in town, new public art, new murals, new stuff happening…you can have your finger on the pulse of what’s going on.” 

Wes Rhea, CEO of Visit Stockton

And one of the best parts about your CrowdRiff collection is that the thousands of photos in there are all searchable and sortable. Our industry-leading search lets you search more than just hashtags and keywords.

CrowdRiff discovery visual marketing platform

So whether you know what you’re looking for, or just want to discover something new, CrowdRiff can help you find the photos to be the best visual influencer in your location.

2 | Storing all your visual assets in one organized hub

User-generated photos of course aren’t the only visuals you have — you probably have photos from professional shoots, images you’ve taken yourself, event pictures, and such.

CrowdRiff’s visual marketing platform is a hub for all of these. Besides pulling in user-generated photos into your collection, you can also upload any owned visual assets, so that all your visuals are stored in one place.


CrowdRiff also makes it simple to sort and organize all your photos. You can tag photos and sort them into folders, so that while your collection might be huge, everything remains easy-to-find.

What’s more, using artificial intelligence, in the form of Google Cloud Vision, every photo you upload is automatically tagged with relevant keywords — meaning your entire CrowdRiff collection is searchable.


Having everything in one place makes it easier to keep on top of all the assets available for your use, so you can get creative with your visual influence campaigns.

3 | Simplifying rights management for UGC photos

A part of being a powerful visual influencer involves curating and showcasing the photos that tell your brand story best. And since others are always sharing photos in your destination, having a system in place to get rights to use UGC photos is a must.

When you’re looking for a variety photos to use on your website, typing out individual comments (“I love this photo! Do we mind if we use it on our website?”) can take a ton of time.

CrowdRiff simplifies the rights management process in two ways:

  1. It allows you to request permission at scale
  2. It keeps track of who’s given permission to which photos

You can select multiple photos in your collection and send out customized rights requests with just a click — saving you hours of manual searching and typing. And once someone responds with permission, the photo automatically becomes available for you to download.

For the brands that require another layer of protection, our Advanced Rights Management feature lets you link users to an actual terms and conditions document. Watch it in action in our ARM announcement.

4 | Helping you give actionable inspiration with Calls-to-Action

Visual influence is all about inspiring people to action through visuals — and a part of being a visual influencer is enabling both the inspiration and the action.

CrowdRiff’s Call-to-Action (CTA) feature allows you to insert relevant links within photos. So when someone finds a stunning picture of a historic theatre, and suddenly feels inspired to visit, you can make sure there’s a link to that theatre’s website for them to take the next step.



Linking to a partner’s listing on your own site or directly to their website boosts your role as a visual influencer and authority because you can offer all the information people need.

After implementing CTAs to their photos, Hammock Coast was able to drive 20% of their web traffic to their tourism partners. Read the full story here.

And as your follower count and engagement grows, so will your opportunities to share the successes with businesses within or around your destination by helping filter some digital and foot traffic their way. This solidifies your standing as an authority on your brand.

5 | Extending your visual influence to every channel

A lot of brands are already doing great things with visual influence on social media — reposting and curating popular photos to their own feeds — but it doesn’t stop there.


CrowdRiff makes it easy to be a visual influencer across all marketing platforms — your website, your social channels, and in out-of-home advertising too. Being consistent with the story you share will cement your position as the visual influencer of your brand to visitors wherever they go.


Go To Louisville, for example, is a fantastic example of a DMO who’s embraced visual influence on multiple channels. They’ve become the top visual influencer for Louisville, Kentucky.

When you find a photo you like in CrowdRiff, you can put it in a gallery on your website, download it for use (after getting rights) in a visitor’s guide or other print ads, or schedule it straight into Buffer to share on social. Or all three!  

CrowdRiff can help your brand become its primary visual influencer.

Visual influence isn’t just a way to hold sway over your market. It’s the way to share your story, the best parts of your destination, and create a lasting, powerful bond with your audience and visitors.

With CrowdRiff’s robust visual marketing platform, you can rise to the top as the visual influencer of your brand, to reach and inspire more people to visit your unique destination.

We’ve found thousands of photos taken in your destination! Request a preview link to see what CrowdRiff can do for you.

Header image credit: @ribbonaj

What is Visual Influence? And Why Should Marketers Care?


Every day, people are constantly being bombarded with the (seemingly) hundreds of photos their friends take in every place they visit.

Whether it’s from the Facebook friend who’s sunbathing in Hawaii, or the Instagrammer that’s coffee-shop hopping all over the city — these are visual stories of experiences

People love and seek experiences. And to find them, they’re following visuals.

People are already making decisions based on visuals.

Consider: When was the last time you made a purchase from a Craigslist or eBay ad that didn’t show photos? When was the last time you went to a restaurant you found on Yelp that didn’t have any photos of their food?

Chances are, not lately. Or at least not as recently as when a photo compelled you to do something.

Social photos, from Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, are particularly influential.

You might see a photo on Instagram of a particularly intricate work of latte art, for example — and that cafe is now on your list of spots to visit on the weekend.

And when you decide to take your next holiday in Hawaii — due to that travelling Facebook friend of yours — that’s visual influence at work.

At its core, visual influence is tied to the way people take action based on the images they see of places, products, and experiences.

For marketers, the pursuit of visual influence holds an opportunity to captivate and attract more tourists and customers, as well as being the go-to authority of your brand story.

That means showcasing all the great things you have to offer a visitor, and inspiring them.

If you ignore visual influence, other people will tell your story for you.  

Sometimes, that’s a good thing — like when your happy visitors are sharing their photos with their friends and networks. But because there are so many photos that exist out there, your main story can get diluted.

People are bound to share photos that are unrelated to your destination’s travel potential — things that aren’t going to particularly attract people to come. That’s why it’s the DMO’s job to rise above as the main visual influencer.

For example, Waterloo is a region in Ontario, Canada that’s home to the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University. So it goes without saying that a lot of the photos tagged in Waterloo depict student life.


The thing is… exam stress “studying-in-the-library” photos aren’t exactly catalysts for travel inspiration. Nor are house party photos.

Knowing this, the DMO Explore Waterloo Region has honed in on their visual influence strategy. On their website and Instagram, they’ve curated specific photos people are sharing in their location, that tell a story of their destination that goes so much further than “university town”.


Because Explore Waterloo Region has positioned itself as the main storyteller — or visual influencer — of their destination, interested visitors go to their website or Instagram account to investigate what Waterloo has to offer.

So in addition to its bustling student activity, visitors can see the local cafes, farmers market, and small town charm that defines Waterloo.

Taking hold of your visual influence puts you back in the driver’s seat of your reputation and story.

You are your brand’s curator.

Along with to your own branded photos (aspirational visuals), showcase the authentic (user-generated) photos that other people have taken about you.

As a marketer, you can’t control everything about your brand’s image. But you can curate the visuals that are out there, to tell your story and share your culture. 

Visuals are influential. And when you take hold of your visual influence, that’s the best way to inspire more visitors and travelers to come see what you can offer.

Want to learn how to be a better visual influencer for your brand? Subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter to get the latest tips sent straight to your inbox.


Further reading: 

Why Travelers Aren’t Using DMO Websites (and How to Fix That)

“Why aren’t more travelers using my website?”

It’s a question a lot of DMOs are asking — and for a good reason. Nowadays 52% of people start their vacation planning on social media.

But if you’re pouring energy and money into promoting your destination and its best local businesses and attractions on your website, you want people to use it!

Over the years we’ve noticed some common reasons why travelers are ignoring DMO sites. Keep reading to see what they are, and how you can fix them!

1 | People just don’t know about your website

How do people find your website?

With so many other places to start trip planning, like social media or travel sites like TripAdvisor, sometimes travelers just don’t think to look for it.

The Solution: 

Use social media to bring people to your website. Travelers are already on social media to discover destinations for upcoming vacations and events.

Create and share interesting content that drives back to your website, like Destination Cleveland in this tweet above. If you have a visitor guide on your website or interesting blog posts, share them on social! The occasional social contest that requires people to go to your website can also give a needed boost of traffic around key times of the year.

Don’t underestimate the value of being the authority on your destination by being the best source of both content and visuals on the things visitors are searching for.

2 | Your website isn’t visually striking

Marketers behind the most innovative DMO sites know that from the moment a web visitor lands on their destination site, it’s their job to keep them there.

Especially now that people are accustomed to our new age of visual media — if your website doesn’t give a great first impression with a visual impact, visitors will be more likely to click away and never come back.

The Solution:

Make sure all your landing pages — from your homepage to your blog posts — wow your visitors with stunning visuals.

7 DMO Websites with Innovative Visual Experiences

A lot of DMO websites are embedding auto-playing videos onto their homepages. With video, you can tell a high-level story of your destination within 5 seconds — which is enough to inspire attention.

3 | Your website’s visuals are stale

When you feature commissioned photos on your website, it’s easy to leave them up for months, even years. Partly because it’s expensive and time-consuming to regularly commission photos, and partly because updating photos on a website often requires web development resources.  

But a lack of up-to-date images can make site visitors feel like no one’s home.

The Solution:

Your visitors are taking, tagging, and sharing thousands of photos of your destination — and that number is growing. One thing that’s been popular with DMOs we work with is displaying user-generated photos on galleries on their websites. Featuring these images will keep your visuals fresh, current, and highlight your best attractions.

4 | Your photos look too perfect

The reason why sites like Instagram have become popular with travelers is because they can show an authentic, unfiltered view of the sights, sounds, and activities of a destination.

For example, if your website features a photo of a pristine beach, it will get people’s attention, yes — but they might be skeptical that the beach looks like that during peak season.

The Solution:

Embed Instagram photos (both yours and those taken by visitors and locals) so that people can see photos of your destination in real time as they’re being shared. So while you can say that your destination has temperatures in the 60’s in November, website visitors will appreciate seeing recent photos so they can see firsthand what people are actually wearing.

5 | Your site only shares well-known tourist spots

Does your site cater to niche tourist interests? If so, foodies, art hounds, hikers, and craft beer enthusiasts, for example, will all be looking for more than the most popular sights.

Imagine a New York travel site that only talked about Times Square — there’s nothing unique this site offers!

If you keep points of interest too general on your website, you may risk getting passed over in favor of more “best kept secret” websites and blogs about your destination.

The Solution:


Give people a reason to use your site by creating pages and blog posts around niche travel interests. Invite local influencers with particular specialties (like cocktails, artisan burgers, music, etc.) to do guest posts. Offer neighborhood guides, like Airbnb, and give a more “insider’s” take on showing the lesser-known spots!

6 | Your site doesn’t let users act on their inspiration

Imagine you’re on a website that raves about a local restaurant. It’s got fantastic pictures and glowing descriptions… but no link to the restaurant’s website, or any information about how you can make a reservation.

Chances are you’re not going to jump through hoops tracking down the official restaurant website, right? Or if you do, it’s more work for you. Either way, it’s not a great experience.

The Solution:

Don’t leave people hanging — give actionable inspiration!


Keep your beautiful images but make sure you add direct links to the restaurants, museums, and attractions shown in those visuals. Offering this seamless online experience will make your local businesses happy and give your website visitors a reason to return.

7 | Your website isn’t mobile-friendly

In this day and age, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you might be losing as much as half your traffic. After all, mobile now drives up to 56% of traffic to top sites every day.

What’s more, responsive sites rank better on Google — meaning unresponsive sites rank lower.

The Solution:

You guessed it — optimize your site for mobile. For sure — it might be costly and might take a long time, but believe us when we say that transforming your site to cater to mobile is going to give your users a significantly better experience (and keep them coming back!).

8 | Your site feels more like a directory

It’s not enough for your website to list out your best restaurants, local attractions, and landmarks. You don’t want to just be a directory — you want to tell a story, to capture people’s imaginations and inspire them to visit.

While visitors may be looking for something specific (like charming local hotspots), the way you present the information and your connection to it will make it enticing.

The Solution:

Start with your brand DNAFor example, are you a nature lover’s oasis? A family getaway spot? Focusing on that angle of your brand’s “personality” will allow you to create a visual story that will magnetize new tourists and customers to you.

St. Petersburg-Clearwater, for example, is a beach vacation spot in Florida — but they don’t just list beaches on their website.

They curate the best traveler photos that showcase their unique vacation experience — places you can visit. You don’t just see one or two photos of someone on a beach. You see such a variety and volume of imagery that you feel compelled to be a part of it too. 


It’s time to stand out as the authority for your destination.

If your resources and budgets are limited, perhaps start with one or two changes that can deliver a measurable impact. And consider the other problem areas as you build out a plan to undergo a larger website refresh.


Want this content (plus more!) in a downloadable form? We put it in an eBook just for you!

Further reading:

Header image creds: @thejorelle

7 DMO Websites That Deliver Beautiful Visual Experiences

The travel industry is all about inspiring people to experience new places, people and pursuits.

As a destination marketing organization, you want to be able to show people who your destination is, and give them a taste of the one-of-a-kind experience they can only get by visiting.

A well-designed website can do that.

But what makes a DMO website stand out? How can DMOs make their websites better, and leave a lasting impression on their users?

We think these 7 websites are creating some of the best user experiences out there. One thing they all have in common? Visuals are at the core of their online experience. We’ve rounded up everything they’re doing right, so you can start planning ways to apply this to your own destination.

1 | Visit Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands are a collection of 18 small islands (an archipelago) between Norway and Iceland. Its mountainous landscape, amidst the rolling northern seas, is idyllic and still.

It’s a small destination with a population of 50,000, that’s doing big things with their website.

7 Innovative DMO Websites with Stunning User Experiences

What we love about this DMO website

The design is clean and minimalistic, but visually stunning. The first thing you see when you land on their homepage is a preview of their amazing virtual reality tour, Sheepview360.

The Faroe Islands don’t have Google Streetview yet — so the DMO took matters into their own hands and created their version — Sheepview — where users can wander the streets of the Faroe Islands on the back of a (you guessed it) sheep. Not only did Sheepview make their website standout, it also garnered them attention from media all around the world.

Their site also uses photo grids that double as navigation elements, which is a fantastic use of visuals. You can click a photo of an overhead shot of one island, for example, to find travel info. They also feature a variety of video content, with videos instead of photos in their header image slider, and a series on their blog.

7 Innovative DMO Websites with Stunning User Experiences

This is one innovative DMO website that truly inspires you to dream of visiting a destination you’ve likely never heard of before.

2 | Visit Stockton

Stockton is the 13th largest city in California, USA, with a population of just over 300,000. We give Stockton a lot of love here at CrowdRiff, and for a good reason — their lively website is one of our favorites:

7 Innovative DMO Websites with Stunning User Experiences

What we love about this DMO website

Their website exudes excitement and energy. Besides the vibrant colors, a big part of its wow factor comes from all the interactive elements on the site. Photos, buttons, and sections come to life when you hover your mouse over.

7 DMO Websites with Innovative Visual Experiences

Stockton also features interactive galleries of user-generated content on almost every page, showing windows into the world of Stockton locals and other travelers. Using CrowdRiff, they also embed links to local businesses to their photos, so that users can click-through to relevant websites for more info.

And like Faroe Islands, Stockton’s site hosts their own virtual reality tour. Here, instead of on a sheep, you get to explore the waterfront on a bicycle.

Visit Stockton’s DMO website creates an interactive and fun visual experience for all its web visitors.

3 | Destination Cleveland

Cleveland, Ohio sits on the shores of Lake Erie, and has a population of 309,000 people. Clevelanders are known for their love of sports, music, and art — and their DMO website captures all of that.

7 DMO Websites with Innovative Visual Experiences

What we love about this DMO site

From its bold font, to the striking black theme color, this website is bursting with Cleveland personality.

Destination Cleveland makes it easy for anybody to plan their trip right then and there. Their planning tools aren’t hidden in a menu somewhere — they can be found right in the main navigation bar.

They have guides for casual vacationers, businesses/conventions, and LGBT travel too. If that weren’t easy enough, they also have an app.

But the shining star of Destination Cleveland’s website is its incredible social hub (made with the help of CrowdRiff’s API):

7 DMO Websites with Innovative Visual Experiences

From Instagram photos to Tweets, Destination Cleveland gathers user-generated content about the city and showcases it all here in this one spot. Any visitor (or local!) who wants to know Cleveland’s story can find it here.

4 | Travel Belize

Belize is a tropical country in the Caribbean, where travelers go to surround themselves with jungle life, and explore the mysteries of the Mayan civilization. Their DMO website makes great use of cutting-edge technology to inspire its visitors:

7 Innovative DMO Websites with Stunning User Experiences

What we love about this DMO website

Right from the get-go, the homepage reveals a stunning visual experience. Once you land on the page, you’re shown a fast-paced video with toucans, cheetahs, and sandy beaches. In just a few seconds, this website gives you a pretty good idea of what you might find in Belize — and at the very least piques your interest.

Scrolling down, new sections materialize and animate, making every moment feel fresh and exciting.

The site is engaging and dynamic, different and surprising. All in all, Travel Belize gives a terrific visual experience designed to inspire and attract visitors to their destination.

5 | Visit Saint Paul

Saint Paul is the capital city of Minnesota, the lesser known “twin city” of Minneapolis. They’re ranked as one of the most liveable cities in America.

Why we love this DMO website

Visit Saint Paul’s website really looks like it was designed for mobile first, and this gives it a unique visual experience.

For example, you find its main navigation bar as a column of icons on the side. Also, the site is visually immersive — there’s no unused white space. Images and web elements stretch to cover the entire screen, so there’s always something to look at.

7 DMO Websites with Innovative Visual Experiences

Their “Things to Do” and “Where to Stay” pages combine a variety of interactive elements, so that they not only look interesting, but users can more easily plan their trips.

Here, they’ve not only listed out hotels, but also helpfully placed each on a map. That means users can explore and discover hotels based on the location that suits them best. Along the sidebar, they’ve also added an expandable photo gallery of user-generated photos (which you can click into).

7 Innovative DMO Websites with Stunning User Experiences

And similarly to Destination Cleveland, Visit Saint Paul has a dedicated page to user-generated photos. Here they curate and showcase photos with their branded hashtag: #MYSAINTPAUL.

6 | Cape Town Tourism

Cape Town is a gorgeous port city off the coast of South Africa. With sandy beaches, mountain ranges, and lively city life, it’s home to active locals and a wealth of South African culture.

7 DMO Websites with Innovative Visual Experiences

Why we love this DMO website

The auto-playing video reel is captivating. Everything has movement, reflecting an energetic and bustling personality — and hinting at a traveler experience filled with exploration and adventure. They’ve also put a search bar right in the middle of it, so that people can act on the video’s inspiration.

And something else that makes them unique — their “Where to Stay” and “What to Do” sections are written as articles and guides, and laid out like an online magazine. This DMO website is striking and memorable.

7 | Destination Canada

Recently crowned one of the best destinations to visit by Lonely Planet, Canada is a treasure trove of travel possibilities. So Destination Canada’s outstanding DMO website is there to help travelers narrow down their trip options — no easy feat considering it’s the second largest country in the world:

7 DMO Websites with Innovative Visual Experiences

Why we love this DMO website

The entire website is a visual experience, powered and supported by user-generated content.

Their homepage features multiple videos, and each highlight different regions of Canada. And what really makes these videos heartwarming is that they’re actually compilations of real photos locals and travelers have taken. They feel personal, authentic, and non-promotional.

And it doesn’t stop there — their photo gallery is also powered by user-generated content. They’ve built an immersive wall of photos people have taken all over Canada. And because you can click into each photo, you can see where each photo was taken.

dmo website innovating visual experience

They also have a ton of travel guides, which are written like blog posts (see Toronto’s Top Summer Food Festivals and Markets). They’re easy to read and also embed Instagram photos.

We’re inspired by how creative this DMO website is getting with taking user-generated content. With visual stories like these, no wonder Canada is a must-see destination!

Key Trends and Takeaways for Your DMO Website

  1. Captivate with video. With the web becoming more crowded every day, video is one of the few things that can immediately dazzle a user. DMOs are putting videos right at the top of their homepage, to capture that interest right away.
  2. Create immersive visual experiences. Visuals are the strongest great way to pull in website visitors & give them a reason to explore. Use your visuals to encompass the entire screen, and surround the field of vision with the story you want to tell.
  3. Leverage virtual reality. Leading DMOs are embracing innovative tech, offering virtual reality tours to really draw people into the experience their destination can offer. It’s so new that it’s super impressive and, again, immersive.
  4. Dynamic page elements. Say goodbye to the old static website — the newest websites are incorporating moving parts. That’s like buttons that change and respond to your mouse, and photo galleries people can click into and interact with.
  5. Integrate social media. 52% of summer vacationers start their travel search on social media. But rather than sending people to social sites, why not bring that content to your own? Create a section dedicated to user-generated content, and let your visitors inspire new travelers to visit your destination.

CrowdRiff can help you put authentic and aspirational visuals at the center of your website experience. Tap into the thousands of photos your visitors are sharing, and turn your own DMO website into a stunning window into your destination.