How Instagram became the hottest tool in travel marketing

Instagram is the hottest name in travel marketing right now. A recent survey from MissTravel revealed 48 per cent of Instagram users turn to the platform to choose travel destinations and 38 per cent to discover new places.

With those kind of stats, this is one place you want to make your travel brand discoverable because half of the industry is already using it to connect with people who are craving that next getaway or counting down the days until their flight.

The Instagram API changed everything

When Instagram opened its API to all advertisers it was a real shift in the social advertising scene. The network that boasts the highest engagement metrics (by far) gave every brand the ability to deliver carousel ads, 30-second video ads and call to action buttons.

That’s right – the most attention-grabbing social network also comes with buy buttons. And that’s not all. New ad formats mean new targeting options and Instagram’s seat at the Facebook family table gives you some of the best targeting options in the industry.

All this combined has led to an interesting year for Instagram advertisers and travel brands are getting some of the best out of the platform.

Instagram locations take you places

As we mentioned in the intro, almost half of all Instagrammers use the network to help them choose travel destinations and local attractions. Why? Because they get a collection of images and videos that give them a preview of what’s in store. After all, why read online reviews when you can see the place for yourself?

This is the mentality behind Instagram locations for travel-minded people, which gives you your first opportunity to engage with them by showing off the best of your location(s). Forget advertising for now – just focus on giving people a preview of the places they’re interested in.

As Social Media Today puts it:

“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.”

If you want some ideas for how to inspire travellers, just check out Airbnb’s Instagram feed. You’ll be checking flight prices on your next tea break for sure.

Airbnb’s Instagram feed

Instagram influencers

This one isn’t specific to travel marketing, but one of the most effective Instagram strategies is tapping into influencers. Not only do they connect you to thousands of new prospects, your message is coming from an individual person rather than a brand. And not just any person – an influential person.

How you go about partnering up with influencers depends on your resources. For travel brands, it often involves free trips but you could get creative in your pursuit of influential advocates.

User generated content on tap

If you’re not in a position to strike up partnerships with influencers yet, that’s fine. Instagram comes with a whole network of user content, which you can tap into and also use to create more connections. All you need to do is go back to Instagram’s location filters and you have an entire library of content relevant to your area.

A common approach to getting your hands on this content is running a competition for users to submit their images. Then you can approach certain users, create ads for your competition and target them to show for relevant people. The rest should take care of itself.

Key Instagram marketing stats

As we say, engagement is the key to Instagram success and users are more than ready to connect with brands on this network. It boasts the highest engagement rate with brands among all social platforms:

  • 10 times higher than Facebook
  • 54 times higher than Pinterest
  • 84 times higher than Twitter

Source: Forrester

Meanwhile, 50 per cent of Instagram users follow brands (Source: GlobalWebIndex) and 70 per cent of the most used hashtags are branded (Source: Simply Measured).

The young age bracket also puts you in touch with the most digital savvy generation. More than a third of Instagram users use their phones to buy online – 70 per cent more than people who aren’t on the network (Source: GlobalWebIndex).

It’s been a sharp rise to travel marketing stardom for Instagram this past year, but the visual network has everything you need to connect with travellers. The fact people are willing to engage with brands on Instagram is huge and the Facebook set of targeting options means you can pinpoint the right leads. And, if that’s not enough, people even log in to this network specifically to use its location feature and find their next travel destination.

For more information about advertising on Instagram, check out our Complete guide to Instagram advertising

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Digital marketing for travel brands

Becky Storey profile picture
Becky Storey

Becky joined Vertical Leap as a Social Media Specialist in 2015, having previously worked remotely as a Social Media Manager for an agency alongside her degree, and in-house for a growing poker company in Hampshire.

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