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How Niagara Falls USA Powers Cutting-Edge Visual Storytelling

PhotoShelter helps Niagara Falls USA showcase its relaunched brand through visual assets.

“The Niagara Falls USA brand and digital presence has been completely reimagined for 2017,” says Julie Gilbert, Vice President of Marketing and Brand Management for Niagara Falls USA.And when you visit the organization’s website, you can see what she means. You might have a picture of Niagara Falls in your mind, but Niagara Falls USA’s new website shows you the destination in a whole new way.

When a site makes a first impression like this, how could you not want to keep exploring?

A look at the Niagara Falls USA homepage.

Behind the scenes, the Niagara Falls USA team is using a streamlined workflow. They use PhotoShelter to store, organize and share all of their visual assets, whether they need them for their own storytelling platforms or they need to share them with a media partner who is helping promote the destination.

Let’s take a look at some of the key factors behind the Niagara Falls USA team’s cutting-edge visual storytelling strategy.

The Right Visual Assets

In tandem with the launch of the new Niagara Falls USA brand, the team overhauled their photo and video collection.

Rather than showing the images we might expect, they shifted the focus to experiential images.

“Experiential photos are intended to inspire people to plan a trip,” says Andrea Czopp, Director of Communications for Niagara Falls USA. “They evoke an emotional connection to how they might feel if they visit Niagara Falls USA.”

Check out the difference between this familiar image of the falls…

Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls USA.

… and this image, which is packed with emotion and excitement. This experiential image is far more relatable than the photo above, and it allows viewers to imagine what it’s like to be on that boat.

Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls USA.

The team uses this imagery as a key differentiator for the destination.

“It’s important for us right now especially with the new brand, because our tagline is ‘where adventure comes naturally,’” says Andrea. “Through the photos, we want to show people’s connection with nature, and this destination beyond just attractions that you purchase tickets for.”

Easy Access to Visual Assets

Once they source the right photos and videos, they use PhotoShelter as an easy way to find and share them.

“With the new brand that we launched earlier this year, being able to share our new visual assets is a huge return on investment,” says Andrea. “It allows us to show our destination in a way that is consistent with our new brand.”

Marketing Coordinator Krystina Andersen tags all of the assets in the organization’s media library to power lightning-fast search.

“When someone has to do a file search, they can easily put in ‘falls’ and it will come up,” says Krystina.

An image with a range of relevant keywords in Niagara Falls USA’s media library.

The ability to run a quick search saves time for both internal staff members as well as their external PR firm and media partners.

“Before we started using PhotoShelter, we had to go into a folder of thousands of photos and place them one at a time into a Dropbox folder. It was a much more archaic process,” says Andrea. “Now we can give writers access to choose the perfect photo for their article from our entire library.”

Giving partners direct (but controlled) access to the media library has eliminated rounds of back-and-forth. They give their partners access to only the galleries they want them to be able to see, and they set a download maximum and expiration date. This workflow allows them to maintain control over their assets, while making it easier for their partners to get the perfect assets for a story.

“Prior to them having access to PhotoShelter, they would have to reach out to us each time they needed a specific photo. We were limited in what we were able to get to them quickly,” says Andrea. “Now, our PR firm is able to get the best, most relevant photos out there quickly.”

Andrea says easy access to visual assets has a powerful impact on their final product.

“We’re seeing our most recent photos appear in a lot of stories where we may not have been seeing as many in the past,” Andrea explains. “Efficiency and quality are what PhotoShelter has improved for us the most.”

Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls USA.

A Stunning Storytelling Platform

The Niagara Falls USA team knew that combining the right visual assets with a stunning, immersive storytelling platform would be crucial to engaging visitors. Enter: the brand’s website with Tempest.

“With a completely new brand platform and identity, we set out to tell the story of our destination and make a strong connection with our visitors,” explains Julie. “The organization and presentation of visual assets on our site is paramount to achieving this mission. Combining user-interface design and the visual presentation of video and imagery is critical to the overall experience of the user when conveying brand in a digital environment. We couldn’t successfully move the user without the surprise and delight of focused video, imagery, and design.”

By shifting to a website that puts photos, videos and interactive features in the spotlight, the team is able to hold visitors’ attention and encourage them to explore.

Julie says the return on investment of a visual-first storytelling strategy is clear when you look at the data.

“We have seen a significant uptick in engagement metrics with the new website, and because of the custom approach to our design and user-interface we have the ability to craft custom layouts leading with photos and video,” she explains. “Because of this approach, the site will maintain a fresh feel and provide us with a digital platform for our marketing efforts that will evolve over time and pivot as the landscape changes in the future.”

Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls USA.

The Bottom Line

When you have the right tools at every step of the way, you can streamline your workflow and save time. But the most important results are in the ripple effect. When you catch your visitors’ attention with the right photo or video at the right time, they are far more likely to explore your website and book a trip.

Cover photo courtesy of Niagara Falls USA.

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