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“What can I get you to drink madam?” asks our resort waiter as he approaches with a cocktail menu. “Oh, whatever looks prettiest please.”
The conscious decision to choose an aesthetic beverage to suit our gorgeous surroundings for the sake of a photograph was not mine but a friend’s – let’s call her Emma – and she is by no means alone. Emma is not a blogger or social media influencer, but a member of a non-exclusive yet tremendously popular club, travel braggers, whose membership is ballooning at a triple-speed rate.
With the introduction of picture and live video streaming on social media, people are upping the stakes when it comes to sharing images – and holiday snaps are among the most prevalent. Only a short while ago, our insight into the travel world was limited to the pages of glossy publications or recommendations from family and friends, but now even our work colleagues can give us a (not always welcome) destination tour at the click of a button.
More importantly, bloggers and influencers with large audiences can quickly and easily share their travel experiences with the masses – an invested masses who have actively chosen to follow them – making them highly influential marketing tools. Based on perhaps just a few epic shots, people are choosing their accommodation and booking flights.
The taunting adage “if it’s not on Instagram it didn’t happen” has never rung more true than when it comes to your holiday being noticed by peers, meaning travellers of all ages are curating perfectly posed albums. These can border on the fictitious; a day at the beach can turn into a private island excursion if the angle is just right, while an average sunset can become a flaming sky of gold and purple at the swipe of a filter.
The travel industry used to be an ostentatious playground for the rich, who spent days floating around on private yachts or lounging by an infinity pool at a secluded villa. But now this aspirational and once out-of-reach lifestyle is starting to fill the squares of our own Instagram feeds. Have we all suddenly had a dramatic change in circumstance? Not at all, it has just become more accessible. Our horizons have been broadened and new paths trodden due to an army of travel braggers who have come to replace traditional travel agents. Discovering new locations and unique experiences is possible with a simple scroll. And if you’re flicking through a friend’s feed, these places are probably not out of reach – unless they are in an entirely different economic bracket to you.
When it comes to influencers, images often come with details of exactly how to get there, with some even offering discount codes for hotels, allowing us to read, click and book in one online session. In short, it has never been easier to share your own travel discoveries, or get inspiration from others.
So is this era of exploring show-offs good for the travel industry?
In my opinion, absolutely. The bragging culture feeds directly into human nature’s narcissistic tendencies and we are reaping the benefits. The term FOMO never been more apparent and travelling is one of the leaders when it comes to feeling it. This is fuelling consumers and is invaluable to the travel industry as it creates a virtual viewing platform which encourages people to spread their wings, often in new directions.
There are few restrictions when it comes to sharing snaps on the web and in-built location tagging means that a hotel’s Instagram page may attract holidaymakers more than a brochure ever would. As a travel influencer myself, there’s nothing more rewarding than knowing that someone has travelled to a new corner of the world based on my online recommendation.
While we may just be seeing the “best bits”, if these picture-perfect moments are encouraging people to invest in travel and get out there to see the world, then I’m all for it.
Sabrina Chakici is a TV host and travel expert.
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