Agents shouldn’t overlook the social media platform as a strong marketing tool. Here’s some insight to boost your skills. 

Instagram mobile phone smartphone app technology (Credit: iStock)

Instagram can be an invaluable marketing tool, says Travel Counsellors’ Sarah Holstead

As the most visual of the major social media brands, Instagram is a natural fit for inspiring travel content. 


Unsurprisingly, agents who prioritise the platform are reaping the rewards. Travel Counsellor Sarah Holstead says she receives new business from Instagram on a weekly basis, attracting 3,800 followers over the past four years. Some were existing clients; others came onboard because an account they followed shared her content or friends tagged them into holidays they thought they’d like. 


“You’re penalised [by the algorithms] on Instagram if you don’t show up consistently, so I ensure I show up most days. If I don’t for two or three days, my engagement falls off a cliff,” Holstead explains. “It’s more chatty than other social media platforms, so you can build a rapport.” But she warns conversions are a slow burner: “They’ll watch you for a while, about a year, before interacting.”

Sarah Holstead shares her secrets to using Instagram to boost business

Luxury specialist Sarah Holstead has accumulated nearly 4,000 followers on her Instagram business account

She posts Reels when she travels but Stories daily – these range from customer testimonials and inspiring itineraries, to pictures of her dog. She says you need to be “laser focused” on what you want your business to look like on your grid, herself prioritising tailor-made long-haul luxury.


“It’s two weeks in Sri Lanka or a South Africa safari rather than 10 nights in Mauritius for ‘this’ price,” she explains. “It builds your credibility.”


Sharing interior design influencers’ posts paid dividends for Holstead when they began to reciprocate. “Their followers are exactly the right profile for me,” she says, advising “be really generous with your likes and shares with accounts that have followers you think might be your target customers.” 


Meanwhile, lockdown DJing lessons from her husband proved an unexpected inspiration for Hannah Vincent, owner and managing director of Select World Travel, who started putting together Instagram videos around the same time and has since shared her experience with fellow Advantage members.


“It’s all about the audio for me,” she says. “I’m quite fussy, the music has to be in time and match the content.”


Not only does editing to the beat make Vincent’s Reels slicker, but her music choices also broaden her audience. “If you manage to jump on a trending audio [indicated by an upwards arrow by the track name] at the right time, that should get more reach,” she explains, mentioning how a swiftly-made Ibiza Reel had nearly 40,000 views. Tagging suppliers can also help, she adds, with a cruise company and an Oman resort both sharing videos of her visits. 


Vincent’s Instagram footage is even used at the point of sale, recently helping clinch an Explora Journeys cruise booking. Collaborations are next – an influencer who shared tips from Disneyland Paris will next have a reduced-price Caribbean holiday in exchange for content. 

Expert advice

Evolving agency Travelwise has meanwhile called in an Instagram expert ahead of a website relaunch. “It was getting harder to find time ourselves, particularly as we are very client-focused,” explains director Kim Hart.


“We completely switched our business model post-Covid by moving away from 40 years on the high street in north London, solely focusing on our high-net-worth clientele, and we feel we should be far more visible online.” Hart is now tasking freelance digital content and social media consultant Jo Reeder with the mission.


Reeder, who also runs Travel Youtopia, started with an audit, to ensure messaging across Instagram, e-mail marketing and the website were consistent. Next, she’s building engaging content covering destinations, itineraries, the company’s values, services, testimonials and awards.


Being organised is important, Reeder says. “I’ve created a content calendar where we can plot key dates, events or news items. This means we can be more proactive… nothing will be missed. Part of effective social media management is being consistent when posting content along with creating a brand’s tone of voice,” she adds.

5 ways to… up your Instagram game

1. Double up Remember, you can get double the impact by setting your Instagram posts so they also appear on Facebook.

2. Trendset Trends sites like can save you research time and help ensure you create current posts.

3. Sweet spot When music’s been used on 2,500-8,000 Reels, it’s a good time to “jump on” the trend, says Hannah Vincent.

4. Tone of voice To make it more professional, match the style and tone of your Instagram grid to your website and email marketing.

5. Get gadgets Vincent started with a Gimbal smartphone stabiliser then upgraded to an Insta360 camera for action shots.


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