Are you a travel advisor who is wondering how to use Instagram to promote your travel agency? Do you often wonder if there is even any point in posting on Instagram anymore because it seems like a waste of time?
Does it feel like you post your best content but only get a handful of likes, a couple of comments and maybe, if the moon is orbiting the earth at the right angle…you might even get a share?
Does your mission to get more followers seem a bit like climbing the sand dunes of the Namib desert…3 steps up, 5 steps down? Does the whole process leave you wondering…
“How do I use Instagram to promote my travel agency 🤷♀️?”
Then this article is definitely for you. It’s specifically written for the travel advisor. What works on Instagram for people selling yoga pants with the puckered butt seam…may not work for travel agents and vice versa.
The good news is, technically, you don’t even need Instagram to grow your travel business. There, I said it. Sorry, Zuck…please don’t ding me for saying so.
It definitely supports your travel business and it will help your travel business grow faster but you could pack up all your marbles, never post again, and you’d still do fine. Personally, I find that nugget of truth as comforting as putting on a pair of sweatpants after a Christmas dinner.
While you’ll hear loads of Instagram experts sharing tips on how to get more sales and how to monetize your account, when it comes to the travel industry, things work a little differently.
The idea that someone would drop 10K on a holiday they saw posted on Instagram is as likely as the spotting of the Himalayan Yeti.
So then you might ask…”Why even bother?”
Because promoting your travel agency on Instagram is a great way to build the Know, Like and Trust factor that is essential to winning new business. Instagram should really play more of a supporting role alongside your other marketing efforts
So now that I’ve lifted that weight off your shoulders and you are no longer comparing your results with other influencers wondering what you are doing wrong…I want to give you some actionable steps that you can implement today to help you make a larger impact in the Instagram world.
Optimize your Instagram bio and profile
Updating your profile pic
Your Instagram profile image should be of you…smiling, outdoors without a hat or sunglasses. If you are currently using your logo as your profile, switch it out today. Instagram is about building connections and people prefer to connect with humans over brands.
Your searchable fields
Next, there are only two searchable fields within the Instagram bio. Your Instagram username and the first line of your bio. Make those count. I’d suggest using your business name as your username and then on the first line, put both your given name and the type of travel you sell. Because there is a 30-character limit, you might have to get creative.
Say your business is Cruise Holiday Creators and your name is Magdelena Hoppolopogous, well, you are in a bit of a pickle. But what I’d suggest is to use this:
Username: Cruise Holiday Creators
The first line of bio: Magdalena | Cruise Expert (or some variation of that)
The body and link in the bio
Then, you’ll want to create a tagline for the rest of your bio that tells people immediately what it is you do and how you can help them. Add some emojis to make the profile pop.
Again, you are limited to how much you can write so choose each word with care. Don’t bother putting hashtags in your bio. They look messy and they aren’t searchable anyway.
And be sure to include a link to your lead magnet (aka free giveaway) so that you can collect their email address. If you don’t have a free giveaway, download this guide to help you create one tout suite.
At the very least, direct them to your website until you create your free giveaway.
Engagement matters but don’t lose sleep over it
By now, you’ve learned that your follower count means next to nothing. As long as you have some followers, that’s enough to get you going.
The only reason engagement matters is because Instagram decides how many people it will show your content to based on that metric. So if people aren’t engaging with your content, Instagram will jump to the conclusion it’s not very good and bench you.
Not too surprising when you think…Instagram’s goal is to keep people on its platform. It doesn’t want to promote content that nobody likes. It can’t afford to lose any more users to Tik Tok.
You’ll want to strive for an engagement rate between 2 to 5%. Anything above 5% and you are golden. Anything below 2%…take it as info that you have some work to do.
If you’ve been using Instagram for a while, you’ll agree it’s not the easiest thing to get people to engage. It’s not because your material isn’t good. People just have other things on their minds. Plus, Instagram isn’t the latest shiny object anymore. So don’t beat yourself up.
The most important thing is that you are providing value to your followers which then leads to building trust and loyalty with you.
Keeping this in mind, I have two solutions.
Use Instagram to create valuable, sharable and engageable content to promote your travel agency
And before you say…”Thanks, Captain Obvious, easier said than done.”
Take a moment to go back through your last 10 posts, reels, stories, IGTV and ask yourself, have you made it easy for your audience to engage?
- Have you told them why they should follow you?
- Did you make them laugh?
- Have you asked a thought-provoking question? Made them think?
- Have you provided valuable info that leaves them feeling 😮
- Are your posts about you…or did you create them for your audience?
- Have you offered them anything of value?
Join an engagement pod
There are good engagement pods and not-so-good engagement pods. Full disclosure, they can be time-consuming but they do work.
An engagement pod is a group of fellow Instagrammers, usually with a similar following, who promise to support each other to help boost engagement. If you want to go this route, you should choose a pod that is travel-focused. There are mommy pods and photographer pods, probably stamp-collector pods. A whole bunch of options.
And unless you want to spend an enormous amount of time on Instagram, I would choose a pod that isn’t too large. If you want some suggestions on possible pods that work, send me a direct message through Instagram and I can make some recommendations.
Write irresistible captions
Use a great hook
The hook is the first two lines in your caption. The part that is visible before the word “more.” You’ve got only two lines to grab attention. Luckily, writing a good hook is easier than you think. Just use the same technique you’d use when texting a good friend.
Instead of…Pictured above is the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo back in 1508, blah, blah, blah, blah….(SNORE)
Write…“You’ll never guess what I did yesterday!”
Use short snappy sentences
Long wordy paragraphs have no place on Instagram. Keep things short and sweet. No more than three lines max before you add a paragraph break whether you need one or not.
Love ’em or hate ’em…emojis help break up the text and make your captions easier to read.
End the caption with a directive
- Answer a question.
- Send a DM
- Click on the link in your bio
Swap out the word “I” and “replace it with “you”
Instead of “I love Cambodia. These are my photos. I had a wonderful time”
Change it up to..
Heading to Cambodia? After visiting Angkor Wat, don’t miss out on these 3 things.
- Take a cruise to a floating village on Tonle Sap
- Get your feet nibbled by fish pedicurists followed up with some drinks on Pub Street
- Take a day tour off the tourist trail to Beng Mealea and Koh Ker – (lost jungle ruins)
Which one gets your vote?
My name is Gretchen and I help travellers like you, book the best trips in Asia. Message me if Asia is next on your list.
Just employing those 5 caption strategies on Instragram will help you promote your travel agency.
Use an effective hashtag strategy
Hashtags have taken an unfair beating lately. I get that it’s no longer trendy to say…#GOALS, #YOLO or #BLESSED but to say they are no longer effective, is dead wrong.
Myth #1 – Hashtags don’t work anymore
Yeah, they do. I know hashtags work because Instagram Insights shows me that they do. (Insights are available only if you have a business account. If you don’t, stop everything you are doing this second and go switch that now).
While I can’t determine exactly which specific hashtags are working (although there are tools you can pay for to tell you) at least, I know how many users came to my account based on my hashtags.
Myth #2 – Limit your hashtags to no more than 10
That just doesn’t make common sense. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post. 10 per story. Why would it allow so many if it penalized you for using them?
A hashtag is simply a way to search Instagram for relevant content. It’s no different than using a search term on Google.
So while it may be cute to say #BLESSED, nobody is seriously going to Instagram and doing a search on that term.
As a travel advisor…think as your client would think. How would they search to meet their needs? Would they be looking for a travel advisor close to them…ex #bostontravelagent or would they be looking for a travel style expert ex #cruisespecialist?
And would they look for #travelagent or #traveladvisor or #travelconsultant?
Good thing Instagram gives you up to 30 hashtags to hopefully cover all the possibilities. That’s why you should use them all.
A hashtag strategy that will help you use Instagram to promote your travel agency
Choose 10 hashtags that describe what you do #travelagent
Pick 10 hashtags that describe the destination or style of travel #alaskacruising
Select 10 hashtags that are relevant to your specific post #whalewatching
And of those 30 hashtags, including some that are small (between 10K to 100K followers)
Some that are medium (between 100k to 500K followers)
And some large ones (over 500K followers)
Leave the extra-large hashtags ex #travel which has 625M followers to the uber influencers. You’ll never be able to compete for that hashtag so let it go.
I’ve kept my best tip ‘til last. It’s so easy to get caught up in followers and engagement metrics that we sometimes forget the whole point of social media in the first place and that is to “be social.”
If you want to know how to use Instagram to promote your travel agency, here is a small challenge that you can begin using today to start growing your engagement over time.
- Like 10 images posted by people you follow
- Write 5 genuine comments on posts made by your ideal customer
- Direct message 1 person and thank them for supporting your business
Growing on Instagram takes way more than a hot minute.
Because it’s easy to lose track of time and have it swallowed up by social media, set a timer. And remember what I said earlier, your travel business is not going to fold because you miss a few days. Instagram should really be the sprinkles on your marketing strategy, not the whole cupcake.
Honestly, it feels like I’ve just scratched the surface. I have so many more useful tips I can share to help you promote your travel business on Instagram from when to post, what to post, what not to post, how to post and a ton more time-saving tips and hacks.
If you are eager to learn more about how to use Instagram to promote your travel agency, I’ve included a jam-packed lesson dedicated to just Instagram in my upcoming Travelpreneur Mastercourse. Save your spot HERE and I’ll see you there.