That vibrant sunset on the beach, those sea turtles you just watched float by, the waves you hear crashing. Are you in the tropics? No, you’re scrolling through Instagram and your favorite travel influencer has posted their latest travels to Fiji, so you’ve started dreaming of your next flight off to somewhere new.
Instagram has the power to inspire travel dreams through striking imagery and engaging videos.
Since Instagram launched in 2010, the photo and video sharing app has forever changed how people engage with each other. Instagram created a platform that made it easy for people to share rich images and videos on the go with very little effort. As of 2020, Instagram reported to have 1B monthly active users, and that number continues to increase with the additional features of Instagram Stories and IGTV.
Today’s mobile-obsessed and digitally native travelers use Instagram, along their entire path to purchase—from dreaming about where to go and what to do to booking directly with a location and even to sharing the journey with others. Social media has forever changed the traveler’s visual journey.
The explosion of Instagram has also opened up a world of travel influencers—those who are perfectly positioned to help influence their network by visually sharing their experiences. Today’s travel influencers have the potential to inspire others to dream by perfectly capturing and visually sharing their experiences—making them more noteworthy and recognizable than some of the non-digital photographers of yesteryear.
To learn more about specific techniques to help inspire others using Instagram, we sat down with Taryn Weitzman, a travel blogger and travel influencer. After 14 years working in sales, marketing, and operations roles, Taryn quit her job to travel the world solo for over a year. Today, she uses the vehicle of travel to empower women to get after the life they truly want to live.
Here are five tips from Taryn Weitzman to attract and commit customers to your brand—boosting your hotel bookings:
1. When telling your visual story online, lean into what makes your brand one of a kind.
In other words, why should your customer care about you? Being really specific about your unique features and benefits helps cut through the clutter of every other brand in your space and can help the customer on their booking journey.
• Do you have a really Instagrammable aesthetic?
• Do you want to recruit young travelers?
• Are you specialized for a type of traveler – like solo female traveler?
• Do you excel in specific areas—unparalleled safety standards?
• Does your property do things that make for a truly memorable trip?
By calling out your unique features on Instagram you can visually stand out and show what makes your brand different.
2. Use high-quality content and stay away from stock photography.
With the transparency that’s now available to the customer through social media, online reviews, and high functioning cell phone cameras, there’s no room for overly edited content and giving an image a forced perspective. If you geotag an image on Instagram, customers have the ability to see what everyday folks are sharing and saying about your accommodation. This will include both their experiences as well as what your property actually looks like. Share images where a customer can see themselves in your room or on your grounds help them narrow down the selection process, choosing you.
Evaluate where images are being published and create content unique to those channels.
3. Stay highly active on social media and find ways to incorporate your loyal community in your social media strategy.
This is an important one not to overlook. Your social media account should have its own brand personality that aligns with your brand standards.
Talk to your customers, share what customers are saying, thank your customers for their support and feedback and advocacy constantly. Notice who is tagging you, what they are saying, and why they are saying it.
Use these touch points as opportunities to strengthen loyalty and spread awareness to expand your community. Read all messages in the DM feature as soon as they come in and get back to the customer straight away. Create a cohesive story and look through your social platforms to clearly outline your brand’s mission and sense of community. Lastly, don’t forget to take advantage of features like Instagram’s polls or questions to really engage and narrow down what your target audience loves and wants from your brand.
4. Make influencers out of your existing customers.
The proof is in the numbers. According to a recent article published by Planoly, 86% of women turn to social networks before making a purchase and digital influencers have overtaken celebrities and are now the number one choice of talent for 84% of brands studied.
As brands increase or reallocate budgets towards including influencer marketing, consider more uniquely who your brand is including as an influencer. Did you have someone stay at your property, have an amazing experience, shout it out on social and take great photos in the process? How can you work with this micro-influencer (who has paid and had a genuine experience with your brand) and help other customers feel great about their commitment to your organization?
Consider influencers of all follower-size, especially those who are able to actively communicate with their audience. Think about the location of where their followers are engaging from, what their ethos is about, and what kind of followers they have. Do they meet your marketing goals and target demographics?
5. Take advantage of video in your marketing strategy.
Between Youtube, Instagram Stories and the IGTV platform (to name of a few of the video channels available now) video is an incredible way to tell your brand’s visual story.
What feeling do you want your customers to experience?
What will they do when they engage with your organization?
What will they see when they are with you?
Wrap up all the feels in short-form video content. Whether you incorporate it in your email advertising, your social channels, or on your website, leverage this multi-dimensional storytelling vehicle to excite the senses of your customers leaving them only wanting more.
Continue to put your potential customers first when sharing images and video on Instagram—helping travelers dream of (and then book) their perfect vacation as they scroll through their feed.