While Facebook should be your top focus of the social media platforms when it comes to reaching current and potential clients, there is still much to be said for a strong Instagram presence. After all, people say “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and Instagram is at its core a photo-sharing app. The travel industry has a unique opportunity to thrive on this social platform. In fact, “48% of Instagram users rely on Instagram to find a new travel destination” (source).

As an independent travel agent, Instagram is the perfect platform to show your knowledge and passion for travel. It gives you a free tool to promote special offers, follow travel industry trends, get in front of new clients, and see what current clients are posting about the trips you planned for them. So where and how do you get started? We’ve got an easy guide to Instagram best practices for independent travel agents:

Types of images to post

Because Instagram is a photo-based app, it’s crucial that the images you post are both high quality and inspiring to travelers. There are many ways you can find photos to post. Ask clients to share photos from their travels, or get permission to share Instagram posts they’ve previously posted (and be sure to give them credit). Share your own pictures of your past travels. Post pictures of your workspace. Find free images of travel destinations from sources such as Pixabay.com and Pexels.com.

Once you find an appropriate image to use, Instagram will let you crop and edit the photo. Instagram offers over 20 potential filters within the app for your images, and it can be tempting to over-filtering your photos or switch out the filter you use between each post. Try to pick one filter that you like the look of, adjust the level of the filter so your photo still looks natural and stick to that setting for all of your photos. This will give your Instagram feed a consistent look.

Caption topics to consider

While Instagram is a form of advertising for your independent travel agency, that doesn’t mean you should use marketing talk in your posts. People are looking for authentic content that they feel they can relate to, even if your captions. After you’ve picked your image, write a caption that is unique to both the photo and to you. Tell your story in a few sentences. Share memories from past trips you’ve been on. Talk about your favorite part of planning a trip for a client.

Hashtags to use

Instagram hashtags are the tool that lets your post get in front of new audiences and potential clients. There are millions out there to choose from, from extremely popular and commonly used tags too much more niche tags only a handful of people would search for. For your Instagram posts, you’ll want to utilize all 30 of the hashtags Instagram allows per post. Choose tags that match the interests of the clients you want to reach and that are relevant to the photo you are posting. As a basic rule of thumb, find 20 hashtags that are more general to your page and content and 10 hashtags specified to each post. Use some of the hashtags to get started:

Specific travel hashtags: #FamilyVacation, #DestinationWedding, #Honeymoon, #Adventure, #GroupTravel, #AllInclusive, #Cruising

Broad travel hashtags: #TravelTips, #TravelQuote, #InstaTravel, #InstaGo, #InstaPassport,

Day-specific hashtags: #MondayMotivation, #TravelTuesday, #WanderlustWednesday, #ThursdayThoughts, #FridayFun, #SaturdayVibes, #SundayFunday

Brand name hashtags: #RoyalCaribbean #OasisoftheSeas, #CarnivalCruise

Destination hashtags: #InstaNYC, #VisitParis, #LondonCity, #VeniceItaly

People to follow

When starting out your travel page, it’s perfectly okay for it to take a while to build up your follower base. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be following people and brands before you get your own followers. Start out by following the big names in the travel industry, such as TripAdvisor, Passion Passport, Travel Channel, National Geographic, Travel + Leisure, Airbnb, and National Geographic Travel. You can also follow local companies in your town, current clients, and other travel agent friends.

Engaging with other users

Don’t expect everyone to come to you. You must go to them first. Use the hashtags above to search for your ideal traveler and have genuine conversations with them. Don’t immediately advertise your service. Instead, talk with them about their favorite destinations, their travel goals, etc.

When to post

While the frequency of your posting will be largely dependent on your own schedule, aim for once every other day to start. If possible, one post per day is a happy balance between staying visible to your audience but avoiding annoying them. Finding the best time of the day to post will be trial and error. Try posting in the morning, afternoon and evening to see which posts get better responses.

What are you waiting for? Get your independent travel agency in front of the Instagram world. And while you’re there, don’t forget to follow us at OutsideAgentLink!