How Instagram is Changing the Tourism Industry

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Technology has made travel planning easier than ever before. Travelers are not only doing most of their vacation planning online, but specifically, on their smartphones. According to our research, 70% of travelers are using smartphones to plan their vacations. The traditional planning process included picking a destination, researching things to do, and booking tickets. Now, consumers look to inspiration from social media for travel decisions, and Instagram is at the epicenter of forever changing the tourism industry.


Engagement with brands on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest, and 84 times higher than Twitter.

Currently, Instagram has 800 million monthly users and 500 million daily users. Engagement with brands on Instagram is 10 times higher than that on Facebook, 54 times higher than that on Pinterest, and 84 times higher than that on Twitter. Clearly Instagram is unmatched when it comes to engagement, especially among millennials. It also helps that Instagram is a visual platform. Seeing a photo of a beautiful sunset over the ocean or a video of someone riding a rollercoaster is much more likely to capture a person’s attention than a Tweet or Facebook post. That’s why, in the age of short attention spans, no other platform can compare to Instagram.


MilLennial Appeal

Instagram is at the top of millennials’ lists for vacation planning. Millennials are impulsive and suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out). That’s why seeing a friend's aesthetically pleasing picture about their vacation is more likely to influence them to vacation there than a promoted post on their feed. Millennials value what others think about them and want to have enviable photographs to brag about.

97% of millennials say they share posts of their vacation on social media

A survey conducted by Schofields found that 40% of millennials value "Instagrammability" the most in a vacation destination. How aesthetically pleasing a destination is even trumps factors such as cost, availability of alcohol, local cuisine experiences, and sightseeing opportunities. When it comes to traveling, 97% of millennials say they share posts of their vacation on social media. While making memories is important to millennials, documenting that memory for the world to see is higher on the priorities list. Like they say, if it’s not on Instagram, did it even happen?


Audience REach

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The Internet has made the world seem smaller and more interconnected. Social media furthered that interconnectivity by allowing people from one end of the earth to speak to people from the other end within seconds. Instagram takes that to another level through hashtags and geotags. Just by searching through popular hashtags or geotags, a traveler can stumble across a new destination they may have never heard of. This has allowed smaller cities or destinations with less traffic to expand their audience and gain more tourists than ever before.

Machu Picchu, for example, is seeing a record number of tourists each year due to its level of "Instagrammability". Because it’s a perfect selfie backdrop, the number of tourists visiting this Peruvian landmark is breaking its 2,500 visitor- a-day limit. 



Consumers are smart; they can spot an ad from a mile away. That’s why consumers are more likely to trust the opinions of their friends, family, and other consumers over any advertisement. Instagram makes it easy for every person to be a spokesperson or a critic. For that reason, it’s the perfect place for travelers to read reviews and browse through photos of vacation destinations posted by real travelers, which leads to travel decisions and planning. In fact, in a 2017 survey, 97% of consumers reported that they searched for a business online first, and 73% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a business more.  

92% of influencers named Instagram as their top platform of focus

This trust in other consumers is what makes influencer marketing effective. This type of marketing introduces an audience to a brand through a trustworthy source, the influencer. Seeing a post on Instagram by an influencer is like receiving a recommendation from a friend. That’s why more and more brands are turning to social media influencers for promotional opportunities, and Instagram is the primary platform for influencer marketing. In fact, in a 2017 survey by Hashoff, 92% of influencers named Instagram as their top platform of focus. Among tactics used by influencers for sponsored campaigns, Instagram Stories was the most popular.


Virtual Tour Guide

Seeing a beautiful picture of Times Square may be just enough to drive travelers to plan their next vacation in NYC, but with the introduction of Instagram Stories, travelers are able to see and experience an entire day’s worth of activities to add to their itineraries. Users can plan and book their entire vacations on the app through the links in Instagram Stories. Travel decisions can be made from seeing, in real time, the restaurants people ate at, what their food looked like, the shows they attended, the view from their hotel, and so on. Instead of searching for things to do on vacation, travelers can see what their favorite influencers did and then plan to do the same on their own trips. Think of Instagram Stories as a virtual travel planner that lets you get a preview of what an experience is like before you go and experience it for yourself.

The takeaway

To make the most of Instagram’s influence, travel brands should establish a sincere presence on the app. Engage with audiences not only through quality content that showcases your destination’s "Instagrammability", but also through influencers that genuinely represent your brand and encourage your followers to use branded hashtags and geotags. We have seen only the beginning of Instagram’s influence in travel, and with the app’s consistent growth, now is the perfect time for travel brands to establish a presence.

We've helped several companies and brands with their tourism efforts. We can do the same for you. Contact us below:

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