Waterfall Resort in Alaska might not be quite what you’d imagine. First of all, even though it’s in Alaska, it doesn’t have snow covered peaks or sled dogs. And while it is a relaxing retreat, it’s a more adventurous destination than most resorts.
“When a lot of people think about a resort, they think of a fancy hotel,” says Geoff Stevens, Director of Marketing for Waterfall Resort, “and the truth of the matter is that we are a fairly unique destination.”
Perhaps the best way to explain it is to show you.
“Our brand is an experiential brand so the biggest challenge that we have is communicating the experience to folks who’ve never done it before,” says Geoff.
Waterfall Resort offers guided sport fishing adventures in a remote location only accessible by boat or sea plane – an experience that’s hard to describe in words.
“For us, images are really important because it tells that story of who we are,” says Geoff. “One image is able to convey the sweeping expanse. It would take pages of copy to get that feeling across.”
In fact, 72% of adventure travel professionals say visual assets are core to how they tell their brand’s story.
To rise to the challenge and shape Waterfall’s brand, Geoff and his team use tightly-controlled imagery in communications. While they have around 6,000 images, only a fraction are publicly available.
“The most important step for us is a fairly severe editorial process,” says Geoff. “We only show 5% of the images that we get.”
Geoff and his team source images from professional photographers, guests and staff, and the quality of those images varies. They use Libris as a centralized place for all of their visual assets so they can decide what should be kept in the archive and what should be shared externally. Within Waterfall’s visual media library, they can also set permissions to grant specific people access to specific content.
Delivering Images to Partners
This look inside Waterfall Resort’s library shows how the team organizes their visual assets, with collections and galleries created for specific sets of people, like the crew, marketing team, media, nonprofits and resellers. Check out how each top level collection contains more specific collections and galleries. For example, the marketing team’s collection includes nested collections like “approved” and “draft.”
Let’s take a closer look at how Geoff and his team distribute visual assets to the different groups of stakeholders that need them.
The images are primarily used by media working on features, top 10 lists and more. When Geoff and his team get media inquiries, they need to make sure they can share high quality images quickly and in the size reporters need. Having a visual asset management system helps with quick delivery, quality control and well-rounded coverage.
When a media inquiry comes in, Waterfall’s PR team can give the reporter access to a collection of photos made available for the media. Then, the reporter can go into the system and choose their own image, which creates more diverse coverage since not every reporter is downloading the same photos. The reporter can choose their own download size to fit their needs, and the system will resize the image on the fly. The process is fast and secure. Geoff and his team can rest assured that reporters can’t access the collections they want to keep private.
“Libris gives us the ability to make sure that we’re only exposing the best images that we want out there to the media,” says Geoff.
The Sales Team
Geoff and the marketing team put together materials and fact sheets for the sales team to use in their work. The marketing team goes through several revisions and drafts of collateral, images and graphics. Libris allows them to keep those materials private from the sales team during the review process.
“It’s a good way for us to partition the draft process from the published and approved materials that we want our sales people to have access to,” says Geoff.
Then, when the drafts are ready, the marketing team adds them to a collection for sales. Later, Libris gives them centralized version control. If they want to touch up an image they have already made available, they can update the file in Libris and ensure the old version is no longer accessible. They don’t have to go around asking sales team members to delete the outdated version because the image they have access to will always be the best version.
Resellers and Travel Agents
A handful of resellers and hundreds of smaller travel agencies sell Waterfall Resort travel packages. For some partners, the marketing team creates custom fact sheets and brochures, and co-brands images with Waterfall’s logo and the partner’s logo. They also create a pool of content designed specifically for travel agents. All of these materials need to be made available to the relevant partners, without being visible to the public.
Libris allows Geoff and his team to create galleries of custom files for each of these partners. They can set strict permissions, so only the right people can access the custom visual assets. These galleries create a seamless, easy workflow for partners and ensure that branded content is not falling into the wrong hands. Plus, they can control access by setting image download expirations dates and limits on how many photos a single user can download.
The Importance of Visual Asset Management in Adventure Travel
Geoff says a professional visual asset management system streamlines his team’s work with images.
“I think for adventure travel in particular, Libris is a really powerful tool,” says Geoff, explaining that in addition to sharing images with the partners above, he and his team use images in every relationship-building touch point with customers. “Our job is to build desire and build trust and that’s really what the images help us to do. It might be a bucket list type of experience, a once in a lifetime type of trip, but over time they’re ready to take the plunge and make it happen.”
It’s impossible to describe in words what an adventure travel experience feels like – how it feels to see a black bear ambling through the forest, to land on the water in a sea plane or to reel in a 300 pound halibut. But images can help Geoff and his team take the first step toward experiencing those once-in-a-lifetime moments for themselves.
“The action shots – we can talk about that stuff, but when we’re able to show the action in progress it creates that emotional connection – that impact – that makes people fall in love with the brand, even if they have not been to the resort,” says Geoff.
Cover photo courtesy of Waterfall Resort.