Travel brands on Instagram

How Can Travel Brands Stand Out in the Age of Instagram?

March 7, 2019
Seema Nayak

Would it shock you if we said 34% of people have booked a holiday because of the content they’ve seen on social media? What about that 36% of people will search for a potential holiday destination on social media – And a

Would it shock you if we said 34% of people have booked a holiday because of the content they’ve seen on social media? What about that 36% of people will search for a potential holiday destination on social media – And a further 31% will search hashtags? Facebook released a study in 2018 on how online platforms are redefining the way travel shoppers discover, evaluate and make a purchase. The study revealed that  76% of leisure travelers use Instagram and Facebook for travel-related activities.

Facebook and Instagram use in Travel

Social media is starting to play a huge role in the influence of consumers and purchasing decisions. Looking at these stats, it should come as no surprise that a multitude of travel brands are using Instagram as part of their marketing strategy. But with so many other travel brands competing for the consumer’s attention – how can you stand out?

Travel Brands & Instagram - A Perfect Match

Instagram’s visual-focussed platform is the pina colada to your travel brand. Meaning? Beautiful imagery is right at home on the platform. Whether for your own travel brand’s channels or your ideal customers.Since Instagram has a huge emphasis on sharing gorgeous imagery, it makes sense that:

  • 31% of people rank posting holiday pictures online as the same importance as the holiday itself
  • 61% of people want to ‘gram their holiday experiences and two-thirds of 18-34-year-olds say the ’Instagrammability’ of a location is an important factor of their booking decision
  • 37% of people say the ability to post beautiful images and videos online influences their travel destination

Wistful wanderlust dreaming is a popular pastime for most. And when your travel brand helps to give followers a sense of escape – you’re onto a winner.

Where Travel Brand Content On Instagram is Heading

Travel brand content is perfect for:

  • Saving – For future travel planning
  • Tagging Friends – Upping engagement with comments to share travel inspiration
  • Sending to Friends - During their planning (or dreaming) process
  • Resharing – Ultimately showing your content to a wider audience

Travel brands also have a high potential for follower growth, discoverability and influencer incentives. Here are some important areas travel brands can leverage:

  • Branded Hashtags – Branded travel hashtags are frequently used by nomads, travel addicts and people just looking for inspiration. Gain further traction by using them
  • Location Hashtags – By using location hashtags, travel brands can target local events and reach people visiting the area
  • Influencer Marketing – With 41% of people saying that travel bloggers and influencers inspire their holiday destinations, influencer marketing plays a key role in buyer decisions. Capitalise on this potential by teaming with influencers for user-generated content

Strategies Top Brands are Using to Stand Out

It’s no secret that Instagram is becoming a saturated platform for travel brands. And with so much competition for attention, standing out is an absolute must to grow an engaged and influential account and following. So if these are the baseline abilities of travel brands on Instagram, what are some seriously cool strategies your brand can use to stand out?

Strategy #1 Taking UGC to the next level

Featured brand: Scotland Tourism

Visit Scotland ups the ante with their Instagram Strategy

We all know how fabulous UGC can be for a travel brand’s Instagram strategy. But a travel brand we’re obsessed with is Visit Scotland. Hosting a variety of branded hashtags (#scotspirit, #scotlandisnow and #visitscotland), this is a travel brand that knows what they’re doing. And they well and truly took their UGC to the next level by turning it into an art exhibition.

Travel Brands on Instagram - Scot Spirit - Sked Social

Scotland’s National Tourism Board launched their #scotspirit Instagram Travel Agency. And cleverly, the popup shop was set in London. Here, floor to ceiling galleries of UGC was showcased to onlookers. Yep, every piece of content was taken during travels throughout Scotland. And as we know, those experiencing our travel destinations are the best ambassadors of all. Each itinerary was based on those recommended by the account users themselves and worked to encourage travel plans.

Travel Brands on Instagram - Tourism Scotland - Sked Social

Want to know the best part? Entering the vortex in 3, 2, 1... Those who attended snapped even more photos of the UGC powered expo, adding extra hype to the UGC shared already.


Think big picture when it comes to UGC. Take your brand’s assets offline to incite engagement outside of the ‘gram. 92% of travellers trust earned media above any other type of advertising. Scotland Tourism saw a spike in Instagram followers due to their unique idea. As a direct result of the campaign, they also received significant PR coverage including features on BBC and London Evening Standard. Try repurposing your UGC in new and interesting ways to stand out against other brands in the industry.

Strategy #2 Creating thoughtful content

Featured brand: Away The core of Away's branding revolves around thoughtfulness. Everything from their social media channels, to their magazine ‘Here’ to their podcast 'Airplane mode' showcases this value.

Travel Brands - Away Podcast

Image source: Away

There are loads of things Away is doing to stand out on Instagram

1. Creating a travel magazine called Here

Away’s independent magazine 'Here' offers followers insights into top travel destinations. Everything from city guides, must-dos and top places to eat – right through to travel inspiration reels and interviews with city locals and packing experts. While 'Here' is powered by Away, it’s placed in a separate Instagram account. The brilliant idea of creating a whole other platform as an information hub for customers is pure genius. Not only does this open the reach of Away’s brand exposure, but it also offers a powerfully user-centric platform to showcase even more travel insights.

2. Partnering with brands that match their values

When Away collaborates with other brands, they do it thoughtfully and strategically. Throughout their content, you’ll find partnerships with complementary brands such as Travel Noire. Travel Noire offers passport holders, travel stationary and online information hubs including an online masterclass for explorers wanting to experience the world on their terms. With complementary audiences, Away, Here and Travel Noire appeal to the travellers looking for more than a quick holiday. They each offer in-depth information, inspiration and online resources designed for the globetrotter seeking an enriching travel experience.

Travel Brands on Instagram - Here Mag - Sked Social

Pro Tip: Sked Social allows you to add mentions, tag users, products and locations.

“Whether it’s through Here, our podcast “Airplane Mode” or through the content on Away’s Instagram, all of our brand channels are designed to showcase thoughtful content that tells a broader story.”

      - Jen Rubio, Co-founder, President, and Chief Brand Officer of Away

3. Instagram stories that take their audience behind the scenes

Away also uses their Instagram Stories to showcase the thoughtfulness that goes into creating their products.

Travel Brands on Instagram - Away Stories - Sked Social
Travel Brands on Instagram - Away Stories Moodboard - Sked Social

By giving followers a behind-the-scenes look into key decisions, this helps to build brand trust and familiarity. Away shares Stories from their office where colleagues introduce themselves, run followers through the ‘makings of’ and share insights about key decisions made for their products.


Tailoring the way that content is shared can truly help travel brands stand out. Taking your audience along for the journey, sharing relevant information hubs and strategising collaborations are super powerful. Use your travel brand’s staff as insider experts to humanise your brand. Thoughtful content is essentially user-centric content. How can your travel brand best connect with your audience in a way that makes them feel equal parts important, involved and engaged?

Strategy #3 Using humour for engagement

Featured Brands: Kayak and Pavemint Overall when you think of a travel brand on Instagram, you think of dreamy images. Humour is probably not something you quickly associate with a travel brand. So when you see it? Boy, is it effective!

Kayak's content will make you cackle

The travel booking platform, Kayak stands out by using humour in their posts. A look at their Instagram account reveals that these images are the ones with the most comments. On average, 0.9% of Kayak followers like their humorous pictures vs some bigger travel brands that have much lower engagement – and less humour in their posts.

Travel Brands on Instagram - Kayak - Sked Social 3
Travel Brands on Instagram - Kayak - Sked Social 2

Image source: kayak

Pavemint promotes its parking app with hilarity

Another brand making great use of humour in their Instagram strategy is Pavemint. This travel brand is a platform that connects drivers looking for parking with business owners and residents with spaces to share. Not too sexy, right? That’s exactly what Director of Communications at Pavemint, Lauren Hoover thinks too. “The difficulty with parking, unlike home-sharing, scootering, or even ride-sharing, is that it's not sexy at all. Rather, it's a pain point that people would rather not have to think about.” So Pavemint got to work researching what other parking companies were doing – and consciously decided to be different. “Instead of fighting [that parking isn’t at all sexy], we decided to do two things:1. Poke fun at parking ourselves by creating memes2. Show people what they actually want to see, which isn't parking, it's destinations. These decisions helped our account to evolve into what is today.”

Travel Brands on Instagram - Pavemint - Sked Social

Image source: Pavemint

Ready to try out sharing branded graphics with a twist? Incorporating humorous ‘quote-styled’ images for your own travel brand is easy. Within Sked Social you’re able to create Canva graphics and share them to your posting schedule. This makes for an easy, quick and clever way to mix up your brand’s posting strategies.


Review which of your posts are performing best for your brand. Branded graphics incorporating humour can be quite impactful if these resonate with your audience. As we see with Kayak, sometimes tone and breaking the industry norm can 100% work in your favour.

Strategy #4 Leveraging your audience for authenticity

Featured brands: World Nomads, Tourist Israel and RemoteYear

Travel insurance brand showcases destinations

World Nomads is a Travel Insurance Company. You probably wouldn’t associate travel insurance with a vibrant social media presence. But that is exactly what WorldNomads has managed to achieve with UGC.

Travel brands on Instagram - World Nomads - Sked Social

Image source: World Nomads

But besides their vibrant feed, another thing that sets them apart is how they drive engagement. The brand avoids the usual giveaway route to increase their engagement that requires followers to like, comment and tag a friend. Instead, they launched the World Nomad Scholarship which regularly gives deserving followers a chance to travel.

Travel Brands on Instagram - Worldnomads - Sked Social 1

Image source: World Nomads

For a travel brand that could seem boring, unimportant and costly, World Nomads reposition themselves as an interesting brand with travel opportunities to boot. This works to redefine their positioning in the market and offers a serious edge against competitors.

Remote Year lets their customers do the talking

Remote Year is a work and travel abroad program for professionals. The brand dials down the awe-inspiring visuals. Instead, they share their audience’s content for an authentic representation of what participants can expect from their program. A big part of their audience’s engagement comes down to their creative post types. Here are some of the things the brand shares with its massive following on Instagram. Showcasing Program Participant’s UGC RemoteYear’s Instagram feed primarily comprises of content sourced from their participants. They encourage their participants to share Instagram posts tagging Remote Year on their accounts. This not only allows the travel brand to gain access to a ton of content but this also helps introduce their program to new audiences. Besides this, they also encourage other remote workers to share where they are working from with the hashtag #WorkspacesAroundTheWorld. By integrating UGC into their posting types, this encourages a greater sense of community. It also positions the brand as approachable and inclusive. Instagram Video Stories FAQs Being a relatively new concept, Remote Year understood that there are lots of FAQs that people might have. Instead of just presenting them in text format, the company got it’s participants to answer them, making it a lot more authentic while making great use of Instagram Story highlights. Today’s person-centred marketing techniques are proving to be more powerful than ever. And by showcasing their current students, this offers RemoteYear’s audience to learn of their possible experiences from the people who are living them.

Travel Brands on Instagram - Remote Year - Sked Social

Image source: Remote Year

Not only that, instead of bombarding users with tonnes of FAQs in a single Instagram Story highlight, they instead broke the section down into multiple highlights, making it easier to absorb the information.

Travel Brands on Instagram - Remote year 1 - Sked Social

Image source: Remote Year

There’s something quite refreshing about the way Remote Year utilises UGC, stories and highlights in harmony. Each complements the next and offers potential students a well-rounded look into the experiences they can expect by joining the program.

Tourist Israel gives its audience full reign

Similarly, Tourist Israel showcases its travellers by sharing UGC to Instagram and encouraging Story takeovers. An industry leader in tourism for the Middle East, they offer a variety of tours to tourists from around the globe.

Travel Brands on Instagram - Tourist Israel - Sked Social

Image source: Tourist Israel

“Israel is a country that must be experienced in person, to understand the unique people, places along with the sounds, smells and flavors. Instagram creates a bridge and a view into the country for those who are planning to visit, or came to visit and want to relive the memories,” explains head of Tourist Israel PR, Franziska Falkenberg.

“By posting photos taken by our own travelers, it helps offer a variety of perspectives and visions.”

But the fun doesn’t stop there, Israel’s Tourism account also leverages their audience for further engagement. “We usually try to engage our community, either by asking to guess where a place is or by asking them when they've last visited a place or how they liked a certain city. We also ask them for recommendations to share with other travellers under the posts”

By using this strategy, Tourist Israel was able to grow engagement on posts by 400%

Asking their audience for their insights on locations generated an increase in conversations around the imagery they share.

Travel Brands on Instagram - Tourist Israel 1 - Sked Social

Image source: Tourist Israel


Positioning your travel brand’s audience as your key brand ambassadors will give a sense of authenticity, honesty and transparency. Try sharing their content, featuring them in your stories and ‘heroing’ them through highlights.

Final Thoughts

Standing out on Instagram is important for travel brands considering what a great fit the platform is. In an otherwise saturated landscape of #travelgoals accounts, luxe destination shots and panoramas – give your travel brand the edge with these next-level posting strategies.

Actionable takeaways

  • Consider repurposing your travel brand’s UGC offline
  • Think of new mediums that will complement your audience’s interests
  • Use a Chrome extension like Sked Social Regram to easily share UGC
  • Reach out to brands with complementary audiences to collaborate with
  • Show behind the scenes glimpses into what goes into your travel brand’s products, services and processes
  • Use Sked Social's Canva integration to create branded graphics
  • Challenge the norm with your brand’s Instagram aesthetic
  • Use customers, students or travellers as brand ambassadors
  • Categorise key FAQs into Instagram Highlight ‘folders’ for easy viewing

Over to you

Having the right tools under your belt makes it easier to share stand-out content. Sked Social allows you to tag other accounts, locations and more with the click of a button. Create branded graphics, regram UGC and schedule Stories showcasing your brand’s customers all within Sked Social. To save 5+ hours per week creating, scheduling and sharing content, sign up for Sked Social’s 7-day free trial today.

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