The prominence of discovery as a trend in the visual language of travel is a direct extension of living in the Information Age. The more we learn, the more we want to know. The internet has converted yesterday’s tourists into today’s travel journalists. 

Thanks to the power of the web, travel photographs and reviews gain a worldwide audience, and would-be travelers who can’t afford to hop a flight are continually able to discover fascinating new people and places thanks to the increasing dissemination of travel experiences.

Not just away, but off the radar

Discovery isn’t just about catching the travel bug, but about personality traits as well – receptiveness to seeing places in a new light, the confidence of an independent spirit, and the upending thirst for firsthand knowledge of the world in which we live. The CEO of global tour organizer Cox and Kings (which itself boasts “Over 250 years of Discovery”), Thomas Stanley, corroborates this notion when he describes “Ends of the Earth” as an upcoming travel trend for 2012. According to Stanley, “more and more, modern travelers are craving locales that are way off the radar.”

Going solo

Visuals featuring solo travelers – a group that is estimated at 35 million adults – comprise a significant portion of our top-selling travel and tourism imagery. The freedom of traveling alone is unparalleled, offering not just the opportunity to immerse ourselves in exotic locations by taking the road less traveled, but to meet like-minded travelers along the way.

Solo travelers also experience introspection as they reconnect with themselves in unique locations, a travel trend that’s been glamourized by author Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir turned movie Eat, Pray, Love. Solo travel involves a sense of going away to go within – the notion that leaving all that ties us down (jobs, relationships, cell phones and computers) behind can help us find ourselves again.



Making old new again

Discovery also inspires the notion that old places can become new again. This is especially important for destination marketers, as an ever-changing set of external circumstances – such as natural disasters, political uprising and unfavorable economic conditions – can quickly convert a hotspot into a nightmare.

The Anholt-GfK Roper City Brands Index(SM) study provides an annual pulse on the health of city brands. The study engages citizens in ten countries around the world in order to understand how major cities are perceived in terms of Presence, Place, Pre-requisite, People, Pulse and Potential. Based on these metrics, the study identifies the top cities for 2011 as Paris, London, Sydney, New York, Los Angeles, Rome, Washington D.C., Melbourne, Vienna and Tokyo.


Travel marketers spanning a range of services can capitalize on the trend of discovery as described within this report. The following guidelines suggest ways in which travel brands can create successful visual communications surrounding travel and discovery.

  • Consider the aesthetic value of music and light to create the ideal ambience, especially when creating communications that lean heavily towards a natural and whimsical feel
  • Help consumers picture themselves as visitors by including detailed landscape shots that make it easy to imagine themselves there.

For more travel-related images and video, explore our travel collection online