How tour operators can use Instagram to increase sales

15 years ago, most travel plans started with a guidebook, some recommendations from friends and maybe a quick search on the internet. Today, it probably starts with a ‘like’. Whether it be a photo that sparks wanderlust, a friend’s post about their recent trip, or a tour operator promoting their specialist knowledge and customised itineraries, Instagram is often the first port of call when it comes to planning a dream trip. If you are new to Instagram, or you just want to build your presence on the platform, this article will help you to learn how to (and why you should!) use Instagram to its full potential.

Your customers live here (most likely)

In 2018, over 50% of travellers use Instagram and other social media platforms as part of the process; from getting inspiration, planning, sharing and ultimately spreading positive word of mouth about their adventure.

As the saying goes, ‘fish where the fish are’, and with over 1 billion monthly active users there is certainly no doubt that your prospective customers are on Instagram one way or another. If your tour operator company isn’t on Instagram you could be missing out on a huge opportunity to connect directly with current and potential customers.

Travel is one of the driving themes of Instagram; in fact, there are over 313 million posts (and counting) on Instagram with the hashtag #travel alone. That’s not to mention the masses of social media influencers who get paid to travel the world and promote the industry.

For those of you thinking ‘but my type/s of customers don’t use Instagram’, we’ve got news for you too! Instagram is no longer just a game for millennials, more than one-third of Instagram users are over the age of 30 – and that will only continue to grow!

How you can use this platform

In the business world, social media is most often used and described as a potential sales platform. This is true, but it’s not the only way that it can positively impact your business. Check out the following ways that you can make the most of Instagram for your tour operator business!

Selling more travel

Social media is a simple and easy way to attract and sell to more customers; the obvious, but not the only, strategy. Setting up paid advertising on Instagram is very straightforward and can be an easy way to get customers to your website. Instagram reports that almost 80% of users follow at least one business account. With the platform’s latest update travellers can now book directly through your business profile too.

Ultimately, every bit of effort you put into your Instagram presence, will all stem back to increase your sales. Aspire to grow your presence, increase your followers and establish a reputation for posting awe-inspiring pictures that make people want to travel with you. Don’t, however, expect your revenues to triple overnight; building your social brand can certainly be playing the long game. Rest assured, with a bit of determination and consistency you will see results.

Increase your brand awareness

As we mentioned earlier, increasing sales isn’t the only reason for a tour operator to take the plunge into the world of Instagram. We all know just how competitive the travel industry is – getting the opportunity to put your brand in front of thousands of aspiring travellers is an excellent way to ensure your brand is top of mind when it comes time for those viewers to finally book their trip.

Instagram is a space to be inspired, and luckily for you, travel inspires. Instagram gives you the perfect opportunity to build your brand awareness, by sharing stunning photos of your destinations to inspire potential travellers. With nearly 100 million photos and videos being uploaded every day, there is a lot of content out there, so it pays to think about how you can stand out from the crowd.  

Instagram is arguably the ideal social media channel for the luxury market. The platform itself is designed to showcase amazing photography and videos, making it almost effortless for luxury travel brands to flaunt the very best of what they have to offer.

Customer success

Delighting your existing customers is just as important as attracting new ones. We’ve talked before about the importance of customer service and retaining your current customers. The customer service experience doesn’t end when they head off on their trip, it continues right throughout and hopefully afterwards. Instagram allows you to stay fresh in their minds; delighting them with new content and inspiring them to travel with you again!

Connect with your customers and encourage them to tag you in their travel photos. Re-posting, commenting and liking the travel shots they spent so long deciding on will make them feel loved, as well as boosting your brand recognition, yet again!

Get inspired

Social media is an interesting place to navigate, especially when you are just starting out. If you need some inspiration, here are some great accounts, all using slightly different tactics to prompt engagement and grow their brand!

Tourism Australia has over 3 million followers and posts stunning and creative photos, most of which are user-generated. They do an awesome job of encouraging engagement on their posts, asking questions, making jokes and collecting an average of 100,000 likes on each post!

Contiki’s target market is the demographic most highly represented on Instagram, so it makes sense that their feed is filled with inspiring travel shots reposted from their customers. Travellers love to see the journey that they could have, first hand from those who have gone before. So following and reposting photos from your customers is a must-do!

Abercrombie & Kent are a luxury travel brand who do a brilliant job of showcasing both their own tours and the destinations they sell to. Check out their use of ‘story highlight’s to feature their spectacular tours from the traveller’s perspective.

Resources for tour operators

Find out more about the importance of customer service

Why you should have a digital marketing strategy for your tour operator business

How to integrate social media, paid advertising and more into your marketing strategy

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