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Five tips for creating a photo-friendly town in the age of Instagram

by Kaitlynn Furse
in Magazine, Tourism

Being photo friendly is an important consideration that regional tourism authorities, municipalities, and businesses need to be thinking about when it comes to making their destination attractive to Millennial travelers. What else makes a destination truly attractive to people looking to experience and share their travels with the world?

Steve Dolson, a marketing strategist based in Toronto, says that there are several things that should be on the radar if you are looking to stand out to influencers and digitally-savvy travelers.

“It’s easy to get stuck in a status quo way of viewing one’s town and certainly a lot of people aren’t looking at their business or their town through the lens of a camera,” says Dolson. “Doing so can open up entirely new ways of thinking about what something or some place has to offer.”

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Dolson suggests that businesses and towns looking to tap into the growing trend of Instagram-inspired travel and self-documentation need to consider a few things to get them started:

1. Tell a story – Every destination needs a sense of place and a narrative that explains why it is unique or interesting. Take the time to look at the history of your given town or business and highlight key businesses or landmarks that support that story. These are the areas that you can ensure are photo friendly and accessible to visitors.

2. Accentuate what already stands out – Looking at your town or business through the lens of a camera is one of the best ways to see what does or doesn’t stand out in a space. Find out what is naturally compelling and accentuate it with more colour or art. If nothing stands out, add something that will. It may be as simple as painting a door yellow or installing a piece of public art.

3. Make it an experience – People want meaningful experiences when they travel. It’s not enough to have amazing glass art for sale in a downtown store. People want to see and experience how and where it is made. They want to hear about the craftsmanship. They may even want to try to make their own piece that they can bring home.

4. Embrace food, art and culture – Good food can do a lot to attract visitors. Arts and culture will also attract tourists, and they can improve the quality of life for people living in the community as well. Look to promote interesting things that stand out and are unique.

5. Provide an insider perspective – Everyone is looking for a unique angle to create content. People are looking for interesting places to travel, but they’re also thinking about what content will look like and how it will represent their personal brand. Offer visitors unique vantage points and insider points of view to make it easy to explore in a personalized way.

Rural towns and cities alike have a lot to offer modern travelers: good food, art and culture, natural landscapes, historic sites, and landmarks. In the age of Instagram, the communities that make these features more photo friendly will be the ones that stand out among the rest.  MW

Municipal World Insider and Executive Members: You might also be interested in the full version of this article or in John J. Stewart’s article: Perth’s crystal palace – seizing an opportunity for architectural recycling and creative community development. Note that you can now access the complete collection of past articles (and more) from your membership dashboard.

Kaitlynn Furse is a Public Relations Manager based in Toronto, Ontario, and is the Founder of, a blog that promotes attractions and destinations in rural Ontario towns.

A version of this article appeared in Municipal World, August 2018.

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