Serendipity happens when the favour you do for a friend provides you with an amazing new business opportunity.
That’s the way it worked for Sarah Pearce, the self-described ’chief of stuff’ for Travelshoot, a fantastic new ‘optional extra’ to add to a travel itinerary.
Travelshoot is, quite simply, a package of professionally shot photos in the customer’s choice of destination. There are three package choices, with one fee covering the shoot and photos, and no hidden extras.
The concept started three years ago when Sarah and husband Grant caught up with a photographer friend in New York.
“He had moved there to work, so he asked us to be in some photos so he could add New York images to his website,” Sarah says, laughingly admitting she told him he didn’t need to send them the pictures.
Fortunately said friend ignored her and forwarded shots of the Pearces against various New York skylines. They were quite spectacular – and Sarah’s friends agreed, once she posted them on social media.
“Suddenly everyone was saying ‘could you connect us with your friend because we’d like to do the same thing’ and that’s where the idea started.”
Of course, no business is that simple and Sarah’s background – a marketing degree – meant there were months of exhaustive research before she would even consider it a real possibility.
“Most of us only deal with professional photographers when we are getting married, and that’s where the resistance came from. The reasons we got as to why people might not do it was the perception that it would be really expensive, and whether they could trust the photographer.”
The research established that the product had to be simple and all-inclusive. The result is a choice of one, two or four-hour packages, with a price point that includes everything.
“People who had used a professional photographer for their wedding said they got really annoyed about being told a certain price, then finding there were all these hidden extra charges. We don’t do that.”
Sarah went looking for great photographers, professionals who were good at their jobs, friendly and easy to hang out with and who knew their home city well.
One fine day: A Perfect 24 Hours in New York
Six reasons why: Villas Beat Hotel Rooms In Bali
She researched portfolios, interviewed on skype and organised contracts. She continues to add photographers and – by default – destinations (36 and counting), on a regular basis, with the same meticulous attention to detail.
Travelshoot launched in June last year, a few months ahead of schedule. That happened because Sarah was a contestant on the Optus/Network Ten Shark Tank business start-up competition, which she won.
“It was a great experience and basically the day after we won, we had an inbox full of jobs, so we launched.
“The really cool thing is that when people see their photos, they share them on social media, so we haven’t had to spend much on marketing. It’s grown from organic interest in the product and people referring the product to their friends.”
Travelshoot packages are available through Travel Associates in most popular destinations, including New York, Paris, London and Bali. Travelshoot manages all the logistics.
“We get the information about the customer, the destination, and the reason they want the package and then we connect them with an appropriate photographer and manage the process from there, including getting the images to the customer.”
Sarah says the product appeals to all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons, whether it is a ‘bucket list’ holiday, the big ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ trip, or special occasions such as family reunions, weddings, honeymoons and engagements.
Sarah's 7 secrets to a successful Travelshoot
1. Pick your favourite
Choose from the Travelshoot itinerary options to get your preferred locations covered.
2. Be weather ready
Wear appropriate clothing so you can enjoy your shoot (and not freeze or overheat!).
3. Wear comfortable shoes
Most Travelshoots involve time walking around the location so comfortable footwear is advised. Ladies – feel free to pack heels for the actual shoot!
4. Wear plain clothes
It’s easier to photograph plain colours. Avoid crazy patterns that distract the eye and take away from the backdrop, especially where there is more than one person involved, and the patterns clash.
5. No supermodels
Travelshoot is about natural photography so dress and act like the real you. It’s not about posing – photographers will encourage clients to have fun so the images genuinely reflect their personality.
6. Send samples
Totally optional, but if you have images you like, our photographers are happy to see them before the shoot to get an understanding of your style and preferences.
7. It’s supposed to be fun
Travelshoots are not formal and serious – they’re a chance to hang out in a new city with a local who just happens to take some great shots. Relaxed customers make for the best photos!