Brits Call Time on Unrealistic Holiday Pictures

Hotel brand appoints acclaimed documentary photographer to celebrate the real side of British travel

LONDON - The aftermath of Sunshine Saturday’s* traditional holiday booking rush sees social media feeds flooded with unrealistic, over-filtered images of idyllic far flung destinations. However, as many Brits face their first week back at work, new research by hotel brand Hampton by Hilton reveals that 28 per cent find these unrealistic and picture-perfect travel images annoying, with holiday ‘hot dog’ legs topping the charts as the worst offender. More than one in twenty (six per cent) have even unfollowed someone because they were posting too many filtered images of exotic destinations in the winter. 

The poll of 2,000 UK adults reveals over a quarter (29 per cent) yearn to see more every day, realistic depictions of travel with one in 10 (13 per cent) feeling bombarded with inauthentic and idealistic holiday images. While Brits have nothing against an exotic escape, these kinds of trips only make up around 10 per cent of the average person’s annual leave and the nation are almost twice as likely to be holidaying in London (21 per cent) than Spain in 2020 (11 per cent). 

The Hampton by Hilton research revealed would-be travellers are more than seven times more likely to visit a destination after seeing authentic images, compared to pictures they deem to be overly filtered or stylised. In response to the nation’s plea, and to celebrate the real side of British travel, the hotel brand has appointed one of the UK’s leading documentary photographers, Ian Weldon, as its ‘Realist in Residence’. 

Over three days in a busy hotel, Ian captured a series of candid photographs showcasing the warmth, fun and human connection of travellers who needed little more than a welcoming bar, comfy bed and hot breakfast to fuel their football match, birthday party or university reunion, in a series entitled ‘This is Real Travel’. From Morris dancers in full regalia getting to grips with a waffle maker, to football fans having a post-match pint and the flurry of girlfriends getting ready for a night out — the images capture genuine hotel guests in action and will be used in Hampton by Hilton marketing this January  to celebrate the real travel moments that take place at its hotels.     

The truth is, far from social media’s impression of endless beach snaps, there is a growing trend for annual leave being used for ‘occasion’ travel, making up over a third (35 per cent) of Brits’ annual leave with trips including weddings, concerts, sporting events, family birthdays, shopping trips and stag and hen dos. It was these relatable ‘real travel’ moments that caught Ian Weldon’s attention as he documented the guests that came through the hotel doors during his stay. Despite booking an average of 23 nights away from home each year, only 25 per cent of annual leave is made up of holidays to beach destinations, and 17 per cent is spent on city breaks within the UK and Europe**.

Although USA, Italy and the Caribbean continue to top the bucket list of dream destinations for 2020, the research shows that, in reality, more Brits will be travelling to London, the Lake District and Edinburgh this year.

Top Dream Travel Destinations for 2020

  1. USA
  2. Italy
  3. Caribbean
  4. Australia
  5. New Zealand
  6. Barbados
  7. Japan
  8. Greece
  9. Canary Islands
  10. Spain

Most Realistic Travel Destinations for 2020

  1. London
  2. Lake District
  3. Edinburgh
  4. Manchester
  5. York
  6. Spain
  7. Liverpool
  8. Italy
  9. Cotswolds
  10. France

Ian Weldon comments, “This series is all about celebrating those heart-warming and often humorous connections that happen when we travel, and I hope it shines a light on the fun and friendliness that can be found in every single type of trip. This series brings to life the real side of travel by celebrating the connections that make travelling experiences so special but often don’t make the photo album.” 

Tal Shefer, Regional Head, Hampton by Hilton EMEA comments, “With nearly 20 per cent of Brits admitting they would like to see people using no filters for travel photography in 2020, we couldn’t be happier to partner with Ian Weldon to launch our ‘This is Real Travel’ campaign. When it comes to trips, Hampton keeps it real. Whenever you stay with us, you can count on our hot breakfast, waffles and Wi-Fi to be included as standard, along with happiness guaranteed!”

To view the full ‘This is Real Travel’ series and for a look behind the scenes of the shoot visit here.

Hampton by Hilton serves quality-driven and value-conscious travellers at more than 2,500 properties in 29 countries and territories. Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits.

*4th January, known as ‘Sunshine Saturday’, is the busiest day of the year for holiday bookings

**Annual leave is broken down as average of 23 days:

  • Beach holidays UK, Europe + long-haul = 35 per cent
  • City breaks Europe and UK = 17 per cent
  • Family birthdays or get togethers = 8 per cent
  • Work trips = 6 per cent
  • Shopping trips = 7 per cent
  • Trips to see show or concert = 6 per cent
  • Football = 5 per cent
  • Weddings = 5 per cent
  • Stag/hen = 4 per cent
  • Other = 7 per cent 

About the Research

Research conducted by OnePoll between 06.12.19 and 10.12.19 with a poll of 2,000 adults aged 18 to 55.

Extra Stats

  • 20 per cent have posted a picture on social media which made the trip look better than it was
  • 18 per cent of adults believe some of the travel photos they see on social media are unattainable 

About Ian Weldon’s Photography

Following the hugely successful ‘this is not a wedding’ series, the photographs commissioned by Hampton by Hilton shine a light on the realities of British travel and holidays. The ‘This is Real Travel’ series captured: 

  • Two lifelong best friends in their 50s, taking their families to see their local football team, St Mirren, play away at Edinburgh
  • An extended family of 15 people celebrating a 50th birthday and one of their younger family members preparing to head off on an epic adventure and move to Australia
  • A university reunion, seeing five female friends in their 20s visit Edinburgh for a 90s club night — all dressed up as the Spice Girls
  • A troupe of Morris dancers, all retired, ready to perform in Edinburgh and enjoy the city
  • An Irish couple and their grandson, visiting Edinburgh for a family weekend away
  • Three women who were in Edinburgh for a sales conference

Download Photos Here