My first ever ‘real’ travel experience begins with STA travel. After a few weeks of Katie and I attempting to put together travel plans to Asia and Australia, we thought we would leave to to the experts. And so it followed that on an overcast day in April 2014 we booked an appointment at their Tottenham Court Road Branch. There we met a man named Ryan. The booking was smooth, he had good ideas and catered well to our needs. Our travel experience was amazing.
When it was time to book a trip to Mexico and The USA around seven months later it made sense to book with STA. Not because I didn’t know what I was doing or where I wanted to go but because they had been diligent before. Also because I wanted to make sure I had a point of contact if things went tits up. This time I met Joe at the St Pauls branch, and he even managed to get a STA travel card out of me. ( which to this day has always worked fine and dandy in no less than 10 countries world wide .. although I do know several people who have had problems. )
Now, up until February 2016 I had no problem with STA… well apart from the fact that they didn’t give me a job last summer, but lets face it… I’d be shit at sales anyway.
Anyway, February brought a little problem. In December 2015 I had visited their Cardiff Branch to try and book some flexible flights..I’ll say that again .. FLEXIBLE FLIGHTS to South America. My friends were unsure of the dates but it made sense for me to book up considering it was less than two months away and prices would shortly be rocketing. I was told I would be able to change my flights for a small fee. I paid the sum of £790 or so to get me from London to Mendoza and then La Paz back to London. Not bad hey.
February rolled round and yeah, I had a problem.. It became apparent that it would be five times more convenient for me to move my flights by a couple of days.. When I tried to process with this, I was told that it wasn’t possible. I had been miss-sold a product on the back of getting a quick sale. As you can imagine, I was a little bit pissed. I threw a few pieces of paper around, slammed a couple of doors but in a few days I got over it. It was what it was.
Strike 1 STA
And so I continue.
I received a message from my Friend Leeza in New Zealand saying that she had seen one of my photos on an STA email, advertising Air NewZealand flights to the USA. Now, at first when you see a photo of yours being used for such a grand campaign, you should be happy, delighted, proud…and I was…for all of 5 seconds- until I realised that I had received neither renumeration or credit for it.
Okay…. So background- I had actually uploaded this photo into an STA photo competition about a year ago and as it turns out I subsequently lost all rights to it upon doing so. ( let’s face it… who actually reads T&Cs??) Anyway, I had fully expected this to be the case and STA couldn’t wait to reply with this ‘fantastic’ news..
‘Hey there, I figured that this may well have been the case. However, I hope you can understand that I feel a little bit ‘put out’ that no credit or even a mention of my name has been attributed to the aforementioned advert. Whilst I understand what I may have agreed to, I find it confusing how an outfit which was not deemed good enough to win the competition is being used for such a promotion.’
If this is the way in which STA are gaining their photos then it is beyond a joke. People get paid to take photos for both websites and magazines. This is someones job, and a job which I would love. The fact that they can turn around and claim that all of their photos are ‘ethically sourced’ is preposterous. I fully understand the terms and conditions but quite frankly this is plain theft. Upload it to their website, thats fine, put it on Instagram.. that’s fine. But seriously at least tag me in it or something.
I have spent both time and money .. lets say around £20000 on both travel experiences and camera equipment. I put a phenomenal amount of effort into maintaining a website, blog, Instagram as well as a YouTube. I do all of this for nothing, but if I was to gain any renumeration for it, it would be amazing.
I am trying my hardest to break through into an incredibly hard career and for STA to take my time, money and effort away from me.. It’s disgusting. The amount of money which they will make of the back of my photo I don’t even want to get into. If this is what they call ‘Ethical’ then they really need to fix up their morals.
Yes, I do understand that when you put anything online whether it be a photo or a statement it then becomes the property of the public. Anyone has the right to relay it. They can use it against you and they praise you with it.
Travel, I believe is one of the few things which can bring true happiness into peoples life, It has changed my life for the better in more ways than I can count and yes, some travel experiences have gone wrong but I would never change them. For STA, a travel company to do something like this… come on.. I was on your side. I believed about what you were doing. All you care about is money and now you’ve done this to me.
And so I conclude..
STA, you have miss-sold me a product, you have stolen my photo and now my arse is on show to anyone receiving your emails. You have stolen enough of my money. Don’t expect a penny more.
( SOME ADVICE: for anyone that is good at taking photos- I feel like a can categorise myself into this sect now as its being used for a campaign. Be Aware, because as well as not winning that free trip you really wanted your ‘substandard’ photo not ‘good enough’ to win will probably be used for flights promoting a round the world trip..
Don’t do it. save up and pay. Chances are you’ll probably appreciate and enjoy it more anyway. And that way. You won’t lose any photos.)
to follow my journey:
Filmed with Canon G7X, Canon 60D & Iphone6