Analysis - June 12, 2013



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June 2013


Print etourism and technology, Marketing ,

Instagram: A mobile partner for the tourism industry

With 40 million photos uploaded per day and 8500 "likes" and 1000 comments per second, the Instagram mobile application has become an essential tool for Marketing 2.0.

With 40 million photos uploaded per day and 8500 “likes” and 1000 comments per second, the Instagram mobile application has become an essential tool for Marketing 2.0.

Named “Application of the Year” by Apple in 2011, Instagram has popularized the art of mobile phone photography, or iPhoneography, by enabling users to personalize and share their photos with others. Purchased by Facebook for US$1 billion in April 2012, a year later Instagram boasts a community of more than 100 million monthly active users.

Hugely popular among young adults, Instagram offers businesses an ideal opportunity to enhance their visibility and public relations, especially if their target public includes members of Generation Y. Many brands, including companies working in the tourism industry, have joined the network and made it part of their marketing strategy.

Instagram 101

For those of you unfamiliar with Instagram, here’s how it works:

  • After taking a picture using Instagram or selecting a saved photo from your phone, you can modify the final image with one of the application’s 18 automatic filters before sharing it with your network.


  • Similar to Twitter, members subscribe to the accounts they want to follow and use #hashtags to label or describe their photos. Just like on Facebook, viewers can express appreciation for an image by “liking” it; they can also post comments.


  • Moreover, the application can be used to share photos on other social platforms.


  • Although Instagram does have a Web version, other Websites have adapted the mobile platform for larger screens, making it easier to navigate and manage your account: Webstagram, Statigram and Pintacular.


Source: Pintacular

How can tourism businesses and organizations benefit from Instagram?

With Instagram, businesses have access to user-generated mobile-optimized content. A convergence of two major trends, the rise in visual marketing content and SoLoMo (see also: Vous avez dit SoLoMo?), this medium is generating interest in the tourism industry, which sees it as a new way for communicating with clients. Making Instagram part of your marketing strategy can provide the following benefits:

  • Develop your brand image. Instagram can introduce users to a variety of interesting photos associated with the brand or destination.
  • Strengthen customer relations. Analyzing Instagram photo searches can help businesses better understand their target clientele. They can use the application to interact with their target market and participate in conversations about certain images, thus reaching a different digital community to complement those in other social media.
  • Create visual content. An organization can repost the best user photos of its establishment or destination on its own account. When you do this, the firm Adviso suggests adding a message to the photo mentioning the name of the user who took the picture, to give photo credit. You can also include Instagram photo albums on your Facebook page, thereby increasing the amount of visual content shared with your fans.
  • Increase your mobile presence among travellers. Instagram can be useful at every stage of the travel cycle, not just during a stay. Its content can provide inspiration, encouragement and guidance during the planning stage, and keep a potential visitor connected with the destination or organization after the initial contact. It is an opportunity to increase one’s presence among connected customers.

How can individuals use Instagram in the context of tourism?


What tourism businesses or destinations use Instagram?

The Canadian Tourism Commission has added Instagram to its social media strategy with the ExploreCanada account, which has nearly 15,000 followers. It invites members of the tourism industry to post images using the hashtag #ExploreCanada.


Source: ExploreCanada

The destination management organizations of Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Alberta have also created hashtags to showcase their destinations.


Source: #visitnovascotia, #tourismbc, #travelalberta on Instagram

Tourisme Montréal encourages the use of hashtag #MTL and incorporates user-generated Instagram photos in a page on its blog, Vivez Montreal/The Montreal Buzz. Some images are also reposted on its Facebook page or put together to form a special blog post. For summer 2013, the site has developed a strategy using the hashtag #mtlmoments on Instagram and Twitter.


Source: The Montreal Buzz

The number of major hotel chains using Instagram more than quadrupled in one year, from 19% in 2011 to 82% in 2012, according to Digital IQ Index: Hotels 2013. Some brands, like the Shangri-La and Four Seasons, have come up with hashtags (#lovingthemoment and #FSFotog, respectively) to encourage guests to share photos of their hotel stays.


Source: @althotel, @intercontinental and @fairmonthotels on Instagram

Furthermore, the ALT Hotel banner launched its second mobile photo contest, #ALTexpo, to create a mural of digital photos for the lobby of its new hotel at Halifax Stanfield International Airport. The video below presents a behind-the-scenes look at the first edition of the contest, organized for the ALT Hotel at Toronto Pearson International Airport:

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The application has also been enthusiastically adopted by the airlines, particularly Air Canada and WestJet.


Source: @WestJet, @Air France and @AirCanada on Instagram

With an adoption rate of 18% in the United States, Instagram is still an emerging platform, currently used primarily by young people. Some 28% of Americans ages 18 to 29 used Instagram in 2012, compared to 14% of 30 to 49 year-olds and 3% of 50 to 64 year-olds. However, it has significant growth potential and relevance for tourism, which is reflected in its current popularity among numerous industry organizations.


- Aboulhamid, Karim. "Instagram: comment bénéficier du contenu généré par les utilisateurs,", January 18, 2013.

- Boulin, Jean-Luc. "Ma vie en Instagram,", December 20, 2012.

- Canadian Tourism Commission. "CTC adds to its social-media range with Instagram and Tumblr,", May 24, 2012.

- Cox, Johanna. "Hotels Embrace Instagram,", February 4, 2013.

- Drescher, Cynthia.  "These are Your Airlines on Instagram,", October 19, 2012.

- eMarketer. "Brands Flex Their Filters on Instagram,", March 1, 2013.

- Gonzalo, Frédéric. "Cinq raisons de miser sur Instagram,", October 30, 2012.

- Trestchenkoff, Trystan. "Etourisme : promouvoir votre destination sur Instagram,", March 22, 2013.

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