If ever there was a partnership that benefits greatly from one another, it is social media and tourism marketing. Over the past four years, the tourism marketing industry has expanded, developed, and grown just as much (if not more) as the social media platforms themselves.

So, why do social media and travel go so well together? In the already oversaturated social world of tourism marketing, how can we form creative Instagram campaigns that stand out from the crowd?

1. Location, location, location

For any brand in the tourism marketing industry, adding the location to your Instagram images should be a vital part of your image uploading procedure. According to Social Media Today, 48% of users rely on Instagram to find a new travel destination, and 35% use it to discover a new place. By adding your image location, it literally places your company on the map.

Instagram Locations Whenever I am travelling anywhere, I will use the location searches within Instagram to discover the “real” photos of the area taken by family, friends, tourists and bloggers.

Planning a trip requires time and research. As Social Media Today highlight: “Travellers aren’t impulse buyers. They usually visit over 20 sites before purchasing a ticket somewhere, and they value this process. Your first priority should be to inspire, not to advertise.”

Instagram MapWith this in mind, use your beautiful travel images and expand the reach with location tagging, helping to captivate a new audience, both with the Instagram map and location based hashtags.

2. Airbnb wins at Instagram

It’s not just location tagging that Airbnb have nailed. It’s their entire Instagram feed. From inspiring photos, the correct use of hashtags (both general and unique) and detailed captions containing travel tips, the Airbnb Instagram profile is beautiful and practical.
airbnb instagram

So, what makes them stand out?

Introducing Like2By, the latest piece of software to hit the Instagram world.
Known to others as Curalate, it allows customers to shop through a brand’s Instagram feed.

But, how does it work?

Like2By works by following these three simple steps:

  • Airbnb promote their Like2By link in the Instagram bio.
    Airbnb Instagram
  • Users click the link and are redirected to an identical looking Instagram feed on Like2By.
    Airbnb Like2by
  • Users click on their desired image and are taken to the Airbnb website where they can book to stay in the image that was featured.

Currently, links that are posted in an Instagram image caption don’t hyperlink, allowing the Like2By platform to become the middle man and helping users to find exactly what they were looking for from using Instagram.

Airbnb aren’t the only ones to get on board with this; STA Travel, Victoria’s Secret, and Nordstorm are just three of the big brands already using the platform to sell their content.

As a travel brand on Instagram, Like2By is the perfect platform to help showcase and promote your Instagram photos by turning them into the real life product (or place) that they are.

3. Curation of creative content

A large part of my holiday research includes looking up the country on Instagram. I am currently in the process of planning a holiday to Cambodia and it doesn’t take long to discover that there are over 1,823,046 photos tagged with “Cambodia” on Instagram. This feed of images shows people on holiday, drinks, food, sunsets, places of interest – everything I will probably (definitely) end up photographing myself.
Cambodia Instagram

By browsing through these images of “real” people on holiday, I get a true representation of what the destination will be like, opposed to biased, heavily edited hotel stock photos. In Mel Carson’s recent talk at BrightonSEO, titled, ‘How to Make a Better Impression through Personal Branding’, Mel revealed that, on average, 90% of consumers would be more likely to trust something communicated to them by a friend compared to the 15% of consumers who are likely to trust a brand message. The hashtag search is also a great way to discover what attractions there are, and what you should take time to go and visit.

As the holiday season soon approaches, it’s time (and easy) to take advantage of user-generated content. Travel + Leisure post up to three user-generated photos a day. User photos are real and other viewers treat that as more credible source of content.
Travel and Leisure Instagram

If your users have uploaded great looking images for you, why not share them and build up your Instagram account as a reliable source for what your brand is really like?

4. Virtual Reality

“Virtual reality is the most realistic experience you can have of a place without being there”, YouVisit CEO Abi Mandelbaum told the Associated Press in December. “It’s powerful. It gets people excited and engaged and interested in having that experience in real life.”

Across social media we are already seeing brands jumping on-board the VR wagon, but Qantas Airlines have been one of the first to make Virtual Reality, as in-flight entertainment, into a reality.

Teaming up with Samsung, Qantas have begun their VR journey by introducing the technology to its Sydney and Melbourne International First Class lounges and First Class cabins on select A380 services. If you are among one of the lucky few to try out the new technology, you can enjoy a three-dimensional, 360-degree style of interactive viewing. The Samsung Gear VR headset contains entertainment and VR tours that showcases some of the destinations that Qantas fly to.

Qantas VR

Could this style of entertainment one day be the norm?  Contently has made their own prediction: “In the coming year, we expect travel brands to continue developing new ways to capitalise on the experiential potential of virtual reality. Once VR can bring people up close and personal with spider monkeys and toucans from the comfort of their own home, it’s only a matter of time before they’ll be eager to see the real thing.”

Whilst an Instagram and VR collaboration is still yet to happen, apps are being produced such as SHOT, which hopes to give virtual reality a social aspect. Keep your eyes peeled!

5. Personalisation 

This brings us onto personalisation within marketing. According to Allison Way, “2016 will be the year personalisation goes from a perk to a necessity. Why? Because the more personalised you can make an experience, the more people will feel connected to your brand.” 

Similar to VR experiences, personalisation has already arrived in the form of tailored recommendations via Netflix, Facebook, and re-marketing ads. As users are slowly becoming accustomed to personal recommendations from brands, it’s becoming easier for brands to market their personalised content in a way that feels organic and engaging to the user.

For example, inflight magazine iFly, by KLM airlines, shows different stories to different users based on the destination that they are travelling to and what level of loyalty they have reached within the company’s rewards programme.
ifly magazine

It’s simple actions and steps that brands can tailor to engage with their consumer further. Personalisation is a win-win for both brand and consumer. The consumer receives content that has a high percentage of being of genuine interest to them and the brand receives further data about what consumers do and don’t engage with, gaining a bigger understanding of who their audience really is.

With Facebook collaborating with Instagram, you can now boost your Instagram posts with a paid budget, allowing you to target who sees your image. Use Facebook’s Ad Manager and create Instagram campaigns that have specific targeting settings based on the audience you are wanting to reach.

6. Locally sourced content

Expanding personalised content further, Contently highlight the following in their guide: “The success of travel content largely hinges on trust. Consumers want to know that they’re getting accurate information from reliable sources, not secondhand PR embellishments. That’s why so many brands are using freelancers who live and work in destinations around the world to help them create content with a dependable local perspective.”

Taking us back to location hashtag searches on Instagram, it is all about that trust. Even if I hadn’t met the user before, I would trust their photos and blogs more than a brand or business trying to sell to me.

Marriott have expanded on their travel magazine, Marriott Traveler, and are wanting to dominate the travel space as the world’s biggest travel publisher. Following the insight that their consumer relies on trust when compiling travel research, the Marriott Traveler collaborated with Contently to produce content that was entirely written by outsourced freelancers, all local to the area that they were writing about.

Marriott Traveler

Locals know the area, where to go, where to avoid and where to shout about. Similar to sharing users’ photos, make use of what and who is around you and share their stories too.

If you would like to read more of Contently’s travel guide you can download it here.

The future of social media in tourism marketing

Social media and tourism marketing are a combination of my two favourite things. I love to see creative Instagram feeds, where the images have been uploaded to inspire and not uploaded to directly advertise or sell to me.

Any form of travel is impressive, exciting and interesting to learn about. To date, there are 94,520,530 images tagged as #travel, social proof that users, including your customers, want to share and talk about experiences alongside learning something new. Travel is now more accessible and more affordable, it has never been easier to discover a new location, book a flight, and go.
Instagram tourism marketing

With technology set to jump on board the travel and social media partnership, I am extremely interested to see what the future will bring. As the technology becomes increasingly more capable of picking up on personal habits, travel experiences are set to engage with the user beyond the dimensions of a pretty Instagram filter, hopefully helping to build stronger brand-consumer relationships.

As beautiful as your destination may be, it is hard to stand out within the tourism industry. But when your product speaks for itself, and you can put your product on the map, your customers can spread your message for you, helping to set you and your brand up in the right direction. (Pun intended.)

To find out how you use Instagram within your tourism marketing strategy, give Zest a call on +44 (0)1865 684999 or contact us online.