As Instagram creates a wave of social media-fuelled tourism among millennials worldwide, travel sellers and operators are not only building a presence on the popular photo-sharing platform itself, but also creating photo-driven tours and itineraries in order to appeal to the new generation of holidaymakers.
Speaking at the recent Arival Bangkok conference, Abhinav Kumar, regional manager – South-east Asia, GetYourGuide, shared that the online tours and activities marketplace’s Bali Instagram Tour: The Most Scenic Spots was co-created with a tour operator, following observations that many people, especially female solo travellers, were booking tours to Lempuyang Temple on the eastern-most part of the island.
Recognising further upselling opportunities from this “bestselling tour”, Kumar said GetYourGuide started offering add-on options of premium car transfers, Polaroid cameras and drone videos to entice the Insta-set keen to take a photo between the iconic temple gates at this bucket-list attraction, also known as the ‘Gates of Heaven’.
What “started as a basic tour turned into an offer with many add-on options”, enabling GetYourGuide to boost its booking and revenue share through “product segmentation”, he shared.
Nicola Scaramuzzino, Thailand country manager at Panorama Destination, also revealed that the DMC is keen to sell Instagram tours on online platforms, as the company seeks to “customise different products for the digital generation”. “There are different types of travellers, we need to cater to them,” he said.
It’s unsurprising too that hotels also want a slice of the Instagram effect, which has been looked upon as an effective marketing tool especially with the huge rise of influencer marketing.
The Sukhothai Hotel Bangkok’s director of sales & marketing Santichai Boonrasri sees a “powerful medium” in social media, which drives a significant portion of bookings for the property.
The influencer marketing strategy, according to Santichai, is especially apparent for South Korea, a travel market very much driven by influencers who post photos of the Thai urban resort on Instagram, which in turn spur further bookings from this market.
However, Insta-tourism has its challenges too, as Scaramuzzino observes a generation more keen on “discovering photogenic spots than the history of a destination”. Some attractions, such as Padar on Komodo Island, are oftentimes reduced to being photo points for the Instagram addicts, as some travellers go to lengths and even dangerous positions to capture the perfect photo at such spectacular spots.
But Air Tours’ social media specialist Dawid Razny does not think that photo-driven social media apps like Instagram has reached a saturation point among today’s travellers. The Instagram trend is still “not that obvious or full blown” for travellers in their 30s and 40s, who make up the main clientele for the Polish tour operator.
“I expect in a couple of years photos will truly become a driving force for a younger generation of travellers,” he remarked, speaking to TTG Asia at Thailand Travel Mart last month.