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4 Essential Lessons for Travel Marketing on Instagram

The travel industry is growing fast, and it is one of the largest and most competitive in the world. Modern customers are more likely to spend money on traveling, and 34% of millennials plan to spend more than $5,000 on upcoming vacations, according to Business Insider.

To stand out from the crowd, travel industry players need to keep up with the trends, and one podcast by Facebook claims Instagram has a significant impact on the travel industry: 70% of travel enthusiasts use Instagram to share their travel plans, 67% use this platform to find inspiration for new journeys, and 61% find things to do on Instagram while they’re traveling.

Brands like National Geographic recognize this. Today, the brand has over 128 million followers on Instagram—making it  the most followed brand account on the social platform. Whether you’re a massive brand, an airline, a car rental company, or even a travel blogger, Instagram is a great way to reach your target audience, build brand awareness, increase brand loyalty and trust, and grow revenue.

Simply put, Instagram has become a perfect marketing tool for visual storytelling that attracts travelers. And if you want to improve your travel marketing on Instagram, here are four Instagram marketing lessons from top travel industry players:

  1. A cohesive feed attracts more followers
  2. Social proof builds loyalty
  3. In-app shopping is flourishing
  4. Excellent Customer service is a must

Lesson #1: Cohesive feed attracts more followers

Practically every travel company aims at acquiring new customers, and the more Instagram followers you have, the more potential customers you can get. If you want to stand out from your competitors and attract more followers, pay close attention to the Instagram feed and make it eye-catching, as 65% of people are visual learners.

Plus, 72% of Millennials and Gen X share their photos on social media while traveling, so it’s no wonder that 67% of people claim that the Instagrammability of a location is the most important factor when choosing a holiday destination, as specified in one study by Expedia. What’s more, 40.1% of young travelers choose a holiday destination by how “Instagrammable” it will be.

This means that it’s important to showcase destinations to inspire travelers, and STA Travel is a good example of using UGC photos to create a beautiful and cohesive Instagram feed.

If you’re a travel blogger who sells digital downloads like filters, having a beautiful Instagram feed is a way to show off your product and encourage followers to give it a try. Here’s an example:

The good news for companies that sell services for tourists: To create a cohesive Instagram feed, there’s no need to have many photos. You can split photos into tiles to create a mosaic effect that helps to organize your feed and make it more eye-catching. And a great example of image splitting done right is Share Now:

No matter what helps you create beautiful visual content for your Instagram feed, whether you publish user-generated content, take your photos, or repurpose royalty-free stock photos. The main idea is to use visual content to create a good first impression on your visitors and keep your followers interested in your profile. All in all, it helps to grow your following.

Key takeaway: Having a cohesive Instagram feed is a proven way to grab your target audience’s attention, turn visitors into followers, and inspire travelers.

Lesson #2: Social proof builds loyalty and trust

With a choice overload on the market, brand loyalty and trust is what makes your company any different from other competitors that hope for the attention of your target audience. Moreover, travelers rely on authentic social proof for inspiration and validation when planning travel.

Travelers pay close attention to trust signals, so they watch travel vlogs, read customer reviews, and seek out personal recommendations before they book. In fact, 52% of social media users draw travel inspiration directly from their friends’ photos. Thus, travel companies need to use social proof on Instagram, and there are many ways to do it.

For example, Outdoor Research, a company that sells technical apparel and gear for outdoor sports, collaborates with niche influencers to provide social proof, and it gives wonderful results. According to a case study from Talkable, setting up a referral program has helped Outdoor Research achieve a 600% return on investment and a 17% advocacy rate. Here’s how the company uses influencers’ photos on Instagram:

Another great example of social proof comes from Airy Indonesia as the company uses Instagram Stories to share customer feedback with potential travelers. With over 500 million accounts that use Instagram Stories daily, not only is it a great place to reach your target audience but it also helps to provide social proof without clogging the main feed up.

Airy Indonesia also adds room reviews to a separate Instagram Stories highlights album that appears right below the bio section and makes it easier for visitors and followers to read customer feedback.

Knowing some Instagram Story hacks for better engagement, the company writes the name of the room, adds a quote, and includes a clickable link that takes interested followers to the website page and tells more about the featured room.

And if you want to cause a buzz around your product and give your customers a solid reason to spread the word about your company on Instagram, it’s important to offer referral rewards. Here’s how one travel blogger shares her thoughts on using Booking.com referral codes:

Since people use social media to share their customer experiences with other consumers, it doesn’t take much time or effort for modern customers to do research before choosing your travel company. And if you want to stay ahead of your competitors, provide your Instagram visitors and followers with social proof to increase brand loyalty and trust. From publishing user-generated content to featuring customer feedback via Instagram Stories, there are many ways to share social proof on Instagram.

Key takeaway: When you share social proof on Instagram, you ease the worried mind of potential travelers that helps to build brand trust, add credibility for your business, and simplify customer’s buying decisions.

Lesson #3: In-app shopping is flourishing

The popularity of Instagram shopping is on the rise. According to Instagram Business, 60% of Instagrammers discover new products or services on the platform and 130 million accounts tap on shopping posts to learn more about products every month.

Since users are ready to buy products in-app, Instagram rolls out business-specific features like product tags and shoppable stickers, “Book” and “Reserve” action buttons, and clickable Instagram Stories links to improve customer experience.

For travel companies, this also means that their potential customers are ready to book travel on Instagram, so it’s important to start selling in-app, and Ryanair is a great example of this strategy in action. In honor of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the company offered a whole week of incredible deals, and it promoted its deals on Instagram:

Not only did Ryanair create a brand hashtag and use its Instagram bio to inform visitors and followers about the time-limited deals, but it also wrote a series of Instagram posts that drove intrigue and engagement:

Instagram shopping is not only for brands that sell physical products; when done right, it also helps to sell travel through Instagram.

Key takeaway: With a variety of business-specific features on Instagram, it’s easier for travelers to discover and book their travel experiences in-app. If you want to turn your Instagram followers into customers, optimize your Instagram account for shopping, improve the customer journey, and encourage urgent purchases.

Lesson #4: Excellent customer service is a must

Over the last few years, customer service expectations have changed. The days when travelers would contact a traveler hotline are far behind us. Modern customers use social media platforms like Instagram to share their customer experiences and get their requests solved. One Sprout Social report says that 46% of customers have used social media to connect with brands and 55% expect to get a resolution or response on social media.

If you work in the travel industry, you should be ready to manage a barrage of satisfied and dissatisfied customers on Instagram. Let’s take Skyscanner ’s story, for example. Customers often share their pain points in the comment section, so the company has to solve their requests quickly to meet their expectations and prove potential travelers that their company is worth choosing

But, if you realize that you can’t meet customer service expectations, it’s better to provide your visitors followers with an alternative way to contact your customer support team, like how Air France does below.

Because modern customers often turn to social media platforms to share their experiences with other people in order to help them make the right purchase choice, providing excellent customer support on Instagram isn’t an option these days. Moreover, 73% of customers say that friendly service is a deciding factor in “falling in love” with a brand. In other words, when you listen to your customers and answer their questions, you stay ahead of your competitors and win more loyal customers.

Key takeaway: To increase customer satisfaction and give your customers a solid reason to choose your company over competitors, it’s important to provide excellent customer support on Instagram: Read comments, analyze direct messages, and monitor brand mentions to solve customer requests fast.

Set your travel Instagram up for success

Modern customers are fond of traveling and they often turn to Instagram to discover new destinations, draw inspiration for vacations, and buy or book travel. Since traveling is one of the most profitable Instagram niches, it’s no wonder that travel companies want to make the most out of using Instagram marketing. But before you jump on the bandwagon, it’s important to learn from the above-mentioned travel companies to understand how to get wonderful results with Instagram.

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