How Successful Travel Industry Startups Are Using Instagram


We all know social media is fickle. If you don’t remember Orkut or Friendster, it’s because they were once wildly popular social networks that vanished into obscurity. And the history of tech is littered with many such companies who fell by the wayside.

But in the heated battle between the current social media favorites; there seems to be one common consensus. Instagram is emerging as a clear winner. As Facebook (Instagram’s parent company) loses its younger audience, and Snapchat and Twitter find it hard to scale beyond their niche audiences, Instagram has become the hot favorite.

One of the biggest reasons that Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users (as of June 2018) is that it’s a visual medium. And that’s one of the reasons why it is the marketing tool that any travel startup has at its disposal today.  

In fact, in a survey conducted on Instagram, it turns out that it is the social network of choice for 48% of people who want to find destinations to visit on their next getaway. And 35% of people use Instagram to discover new places and feel inspired to travel.

Today, most travel startups have an Instagram strategy before they even launch. Everyone is using Instagram Business accounts, influencer marketing and regular Insta stories as part of their marketing campaigns.

But these are now hygiene factors and will not make your travel startup stand out in the crowd of Instagram accounts. Travel startups today need to think outside the box to truly make an impact on Instagram.

Here are some fascinating stories of some travel startups who have changed the rules of the game and hacked their way to exponential growth using Instagram.

Beautiful Destinations

This is the original Instagram based travel startup. They started their journey through Instagram and remain an Instagram first company.

A crowdsourced travel Instagram account, Beautiful Destinations has over 11.5 million followers. With gorgeous crowdsourced images and videos of exotic destinations and experiences across the world, it’s hard to beat this Instagram account when it comes to visually charged content.

It has a list of prestigious clients like Hilton, Marriott and New York City Tourism Board who reportedly cough up more than $1 million for annual marketing contracts.

Beautiful Destinations had a very early start of course, but it is the classic example of how far you can go with stunning content and unique visual imagery.


Trill is on this list not because of a noteworthy Instagram account, but because it is building a product that leverages the power of user-generated travel content on Instagram.Trill is creating a marketplace with tastemakers on one side and travelers on the other. Tastemakers are micro-influencers and a tastemaker can be anyone who has fascinating travel images and stories on Instagram.

Trill’s product allows travelers to book trips off tastemakers’ Instagram images and the tastemakers get paid if a trip is booked off their image. This is a unique way to capitalize on how Instagram has changed people’s travel discovery behavior. Although still in its early stages, Trill presents an extremely interesting model that leverages the power of Instagram in an explosive way.


Away, a new-age premium luggage company has used travel influencer marketing on Instagram to generate incredible sales.

Launched in 2017, Away generated sales of $10 million in its first year. More than 90% of its total sales come from its website. And you guessed it, its primary social channel to drive traffic to its site is Instagram.

It uses stunning images and collaborates with the best travel accounts on Instagram to create a fascinating visual narrative. It has more than 280 thousand followers on Instagram as of October 2018.


Inspirato is a niche vacation club catering to those who love luxury travel. They provide access to some of the most exotic locations and luxurious accommodation across the world.

Apart from their stunning images, Inspirato’s strength lies in their hashtags and geotags. They know their customer really well and their hashtags and captions really hit home. The strong undertones of luxury are present through everything on their account.

These are only a few examples of how newer travel startups are hacking growth on Instagram. So just remember, even though it may sometimes feel like Instagram is overcrowded, it is still the go-to marketing channel for every travel startup. And all it takes is a bit of creative thinking that can leverage Instagram to find your perfect customers.