Instagram has a huge influence on the purchasing decisions of its users. According to reports, 75% of people say that they have bought clothes or beauty products based on something they’ve seen on Instagram.
It’s not just a case of ‘see it, want it’ either. It seems people are also making decisions based on whether or not what they’re buying is worth posting on the platform themselves – most significantly when it comes to travel. One survey found that more than 40% of people under 33 prioritise ‘Instagrammability’ when choosing a holiday destination; twice the amount of people who prioritise the cost and availability of alcohol. While the survey is rather limited, it still suggests that Instagram is front-of-mind for many holiday-goers.
So, it’s unsurprising that travel brands want a slice of the Instagram effect. In recent times, we’ve seen brands take direct inspiration from the platform itself, as well as find new ways to incorporate its functionality into their own marketing tools and campaigns. Here’s just a few examples.
Easyjet’s Look & Book
Whether you say ‘Instagrammable’ or ‘Instagenic’ – it says a lot that we now have terms to describe whether a photo is worthy enough to be posted on the ‘gram. As a result, brands have begun to delve deeper into how they can capitalise on the notion.
EasyJet is one interesting example. Its Look & Book feature (which was launched last year) allows users to search the brand’s app using Instagram photos. Users can upload a screenshot of a destination, and the app will then use image-recognition technology to determine where it is, along with options for Easyjet flights in order to get there.
It’s questionable how many people will actually book a flight based on a single Instagram photo. No matter how impulsive a person might be, the booking process is likely to involve a bit more research than this. However, Look & Book cleverly taps into how Instagram has changed the way we search, browse, and book travel.
In particular, it capitalises on the levels of ‘FOMO’ (or fear of missing out) that many people experience when using Instagram. In theory, instead of passively scrolling past holiday photos and feeling envious, Look & Book provides users with an actionable way of instantly finding out where it is and how they can get there. In practice, it aligns the budget airline brand with the Instagram lifestyle.
Airbnb’s Travel Stories
Last year, Instagram Stories reached 400 million daily users, which is twice as many as Snapchat. The format’s popularity is undeniable, and as a result, others (and not just social media platforms) have attempted to emulate it.
Airbnb is one prominent example of this. Last year, the accommodation-sharing site beta-tested its own Stories tool, called ‘Travel Stories’. It allows users to create video sequences or ‘highlights’ of their Airbnb trips, which they can then share within the Airbnb app.
Similar to Easyjet’s Look & Book, the aim of Travel Stories is to capture the attention of users (and ideally a conversion) who are browsing for travel inspiration. It’s also an attempt for Airbnb to become more ‘social’, ultimately drawing users away from Instagram and increasing dwell-time in its own app.
This is a bold move, of course, and it remains to be seen whether the tool will catch on. However, it certainly shows how the Instagram Stories format (and others like it) can be an effective way to ramp up inspiration and engagement.
Visit Philadelphia and ‘Insta tourism’
Alongside the destinations themselves, people are often influenced by the people taking and featuring in the photos – hence the huge rise of influencer marketing.
It’s hard to find a travel brand that hasn’t dabbled with an influencer campaign, however, some have found more success than others. Visit Philadelphia is a good example of influencer strategy, with its collaborations becoming a staple of the brand’s social media marketing. Alongside this, it also incorporates ‘guests’ into its Instagram feed – i.e. photos taken and featured by regular users.
This combination is what makes its strategy so effective, as it helps to keep the brand relevant to both tourists and locals. By featuring influencers, it increases reach and awareness. Meanwhile, by including user-generated content, it enhances brand relationships and engagement.
That being said, this kind of ‘Insta-tourism’ does have a dark side. Some locations around the world have become so popular due to Instagram photos that they’re now reaching saturation point. Take Santorini in Greece, for example, where the sheer amount of visiting tourists are starting to have a damaging effect on the environment. It’s also particularly ironic that these locations, which were once flocked to for their unique and beautiful landscapes, are so overrun with tourists that a holiday there can turn into a frustrating and formulaic experience.
You can’t stop people from Instagramming a location, of course, but perhaps tourism companies – and indeed travel brands – will start to use influencers with greater caution in future.
Last year, Instagram rolled out action buttons on business profiles to allow users to directly book, reserve, or get tickets to something without leaving the app. So far, partners have largely consisted of restaurant-booking and other entertainment-based sites. However, it’s likely that travel brands will also be keen to get involved (if they don’t go down the same route as EasyJet and launch their own).
Instagram’s director of product management, Vishal Shah, told AdWeek that the tool is designed to “move Instagram from a place where business is discovered to a place where business is done.”
Indeed, with consumers now becoming increasingly comfortable with buying through social media, it could be the case that bigger and more inspiration-based purchases such as holidays are the next step.