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Skift Take

Are selfies to online travel agencies as pro photographers are to travel agents? The gap between DIY and special occasion creates business opportunities of all kinds.

— Alexandra E. Petri

Smart phones and selfie sticks are extra appendages to today’s travelers, who in an image-saturated world dominated by Instagram or SnapChat live each moment for that shareable photo opportunity.

While travel brands and companies aim to create more engaging, immersive experiences, certain companies are doing that by taking technology out of the picture.

Flytographer and El Camino are two of only a couple of companies changing vacation travel photos by dispatching professional photographers to document travelers on their trips, which means less selfies and bad angles for more frame-worthy pictures.

“We are trying to bring experiences to life and give people the opportunity… to have images that are similar to what they see in magazines,” says Katalina Majorga, co-founder of El Camino Travel.

The trend is a relatively new one, and each of the two companies has a different approach. Flytographer, which officially launched in March 2013, connects travelers with local photographers in more than 160 cities worldwide; El Camino, which made its debut in summer 2014, is a tour company that includes a professional photographer as part of its packages.

“I think that we are going to see more trends on how else that local element can be brought in in a deeper way,” Flytographer CEO Nicole Smith says.

The existing market is remains largely untapped and is ripe for for growth, she adds.

Close to 40 percent of Flytographer’s business comes from honeymoons and proposals. The remainder comes largely from the family market and couple vacations while solo travelers and bachorlette parties are picking up speed.

“Solo traveler and bachorlette parties are the growing segments this year, and we are seeing double digit growth from last year,” Smith says.

And as the concept blossoms so do the chances to work with DMO’s, hotels and other travel brands, says Nicole Smith, CEO of Flytographer.

Flytographer has worked with Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills and currently has a global partnership with FRHI Hotels & Resorts. The company also does work with DMOs in their homebase of Victoria.

“We have a lot of content, and it is a great opportunity to do some fun storytelling with these DMOs and these hotels,” Smith says.

Majorga also sees paths beginning to forge with tourism boards and other travel professionals around the world. In July, El Camino worked together on a trip with Nicaragua Tourism Board, and this year is working on project with representatives in Medellin, Colombia.

“I think companies are looking for experiences that define and strengthen their own brand values,” says Majorga. “It is more than just your traditional marketing, because they know traditional marketing isn’t working anymore, and the ones we are working with are thinking… of how they can create these experiences that lead to this more native and organic content.”

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