Insta-Ration: The Travel Brands Getting It Right on Instagram

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With 600 million users and counting, Instagram marketing is a natural choice for travel brands looking to grow their audience and engage with potential new customers. The discovery nature of Instagram, and the fact that travel products lend themselves so well to the entirely visual nature of the platform, make it an easy sell when it comes to getting management buy-in.

Before you rush off to buy a Go Pro and start snapping everything from your fruit carvings to your pillow menu, a word to the wise; there is zero value having yet another social media channel under your belt if you can’t spare the resources or drum up the engagement needed to record a profitable ROI. With that in mind, take a look at these travel brands getting it right on Instagram and use them as your Insta-ration to make a splash.
Norwegian Cruise Lines (@norwegiancruiseline)
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Generally speaking, airlines tend to do better than cruises when it comes to sheer number of followers but, the level of engagement Norwegian Cruise Lines gets from its Instagram posts is mind-blowing. As you’d expect, the brand mainly focuses on aspirational images from beautiful destinations. There’re plenty of shots of its ships in various ports around the world but it weaves in exotic destination pictures and snaps of its customers too.

There’s a consistency and cohesiveness to the feed and it’s apparent from a single glance that the brand has tapped into its audience’s appetite for luxurious yet accessible travel.

Norwegian’s careful use of customers enjoying select activities along with witty captions and careful hashtagging pays dividends, with this post of a shore excursion racking up almost 20,000 views in just 24 hours.

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Urban Cowboy Bed and Breakfast (@urbancowboybnb)
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This bed and breakfast neighbours hip Williamsburg in New York and befitting of its cool geographical location, it was one of the early adopters of Instagram. With 60,000 followers it’s by no means the biggest travel brand on the platform but this boutique bed and breakfast has succeeded in carving out a niche for itself with a seamless brand experience.

Its posts encapsulate its brand values, with a literal urban cowboy feel – luxury conveniences with a touch of rustic charm. It’s very clear this BnB knows its brand and what the customer wants, with a personal touch to reflect this.

Airbnb (@airbnb)
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What round up of travel Instagram success to note would be complete without a mention of the behemoth short-term accommodation provider? Even just a swipe past Airbnb’s feed is enough to induce serious destination envy. With 1.6 million followers to keep entertained, the brand posts at least two pictures every day, most with a beautifully evocative caption. The feed shows careful attention to detail when it comes to image selection – there’s an eclectic mix to keep followers engaged but, each is framed to perfection. There’s lots of focus on individual properties but the brand also weaves in a sense of the location with shots of locals going about their day.

Don’t expect a run-of-the-mill apartment or cramped spare room. Images have a touch of luxury, focusing on the indulgence of a trip rather than the logistics. Think snowy, Wigwam-esque houses in mountain settings, sky high views across a canopy of trees in the forest, wooden beamed hideaways above waterfronts and stone-heated tubs with a view in Brazil.
Airbnb’s feed is a master class in Instagram marketing and creating a sense of longing and adventure through careful curation. While there is an undeniable sales bent running through each post with images clearly selected to encourage bookings, there’s also a suggestion of escapism which works perfectly for the brand.

SIXTY Hotels (@sixtyhotels)
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A collection of luxury hotels in New York, LA and Miami, SIXTY Hotels uses its Instagram feed primarily to drive traffic. It uses its own hashtag #sixtysees on pretty much every post.

The focus is on evocative imagery, sharing of local sights and neighbourhood gems such as coffee shops, parks and nearby districts rather than overtly sales-driven shots of the SIXTY rooms or amenities. SIXTY posts also make use of location tags and where a neighbourhood hangout is featured, the relevant Instagram account is also tagged. This is a smart option for any hotel’s Instagram marketing because it builds goodwill and earns reciprocal tags (and therefore exposure) from other profiles.

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