Some days it can feel like every tour is already an Instagram tour, with half your guests taking in the sights through their phone cameras. So why not capitalize on the interest that’s already out there and put together an Insta tour of your own? Instagram just keeps getting bigger, with over 500 million daily active users, and Instagram tours are exploding alongside it.
Putting together an Instagram tour isn’t quite as easy as slapping a new name on your existing tours and encouraging guests to take photos, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are five steps you can take to make Instagram users love your tours.
1. Get some help
Do you spend several hours a day watching Instagram stories, interacting with friends and influencers, and finding the perfect photos to fill your feed? Probably not, right? After all, you have other work to do.
But that does mean you’re going to need to bring in some outside help. Not just whoever does your social media or that photographer you’ve worked with for your tour photos. Real, live Instagram users who can vet your tours—and maybe even run them.
Recruiting a guide who’s also deeply familiar with Instagram and its culture has a few benefits:
- They can help you craft a tour that’s well-suited to the audience.
- Their presence will give potential guests confidence in your tour’s value.
- Their expertise will benefit the amateur photographers in your groups.
While you’re at it, have someone who lives and breathes Instagram culture go over your tour description, images and details. This will help communicate to your guests that you understand their needs and know how to make a truly Insta-worthy experience.
2. Think beyond backdrops
Yes, everyone loves selfies in front of gorgeous murals. And if you serve an area that’s full of amazing street art or interesting walls, that might be enough to build a tour on. But even the Melrose Insta Experience, which features one of the most Instagrammed streets of murals and wall art, makes sure to stop at aesthetically pleasing cafes, boutiques that are popular with influencers, and other unique spots. A tour needs to be an experience, not just a series of backdrops—even when great photos are the goal.
Good stops for Insta tours should hit at least some of these points:
- Historically/culturally significant
- Tons of character
- Gorgeous views
- Inviting for young guests
Most of all, though, you want variety. No one’s putting thirty photos of the same cathedral on their Instagram feed — each shot needs to be unique, to tell a story, to capture something interesting. The more visual variety your tour can include without thematically falling apart, the better.
Tip: When planning stops, give careful consideration to the lighting that will be present while your tour is running—both the time of day, and the time of year. Lighting can make or break photographs, particularly when they’re taken with phone cameras and not professional equipment. The more light, the better, but direct glare can be an issue, too.
3. Plan for small groups and long stops
Photography is a big part of most tours, but for Instagram tours, it’s the biggest. Your guests will be expecting an insider’s experience that takes them to unique spots, they’ll need time to plan and execute the perfect shot, and they may need individual attention, especially if your guide is a photographer. They’ll also need clear frames, without other people wandering into their shots.
The larger the group, the harder it is to provide those things — and the longer each stop needs to be to give everyone enough time to get their photos. So keep things intimate, with no more than 6-8 guests per tour, and curate your stops carefully to avoid overwhelming and rushing your guests. The best Instagram accounts strike a careful balance between quality and quantity, and so do the best Instagram tours.
4. Research your area
Of course, you don’t need to rely solely on your own knowledge and instincts when planning your tour. Instagram has over a billion monthly active users, so there are definitely some active nearby. Block out a bit of time to browse through photos tagged in your area, both with local hashtags and geotags, where applicable. Note down the spots that make for particularly good or successful posts. Next time you go out to explore your potential routes, add them to the list.
And when you’re out scouting for the perfect stops, keep a photographer’s perspective in mind. If you don’t have an eye for that kind of thing yourself, it could be a great time to bring along someone who also knows the ins and outs of Instagram.
5. Nail your tour gallery
Nothing will sell your Instagram tour more effectively than a fantastic gallery on your tour page.
1. Showcase the people as much as the places: Yes, your guests will want to know that your tour visits beautiful places—but more importantly, they want to imagine themselves looking amazing in once-in-a-lifetime shots from those beautiful places. Give them a taste of the kinds of shots they can expect to get.
2. Promote any unique features you can offer: For instance, are you able to offer drone shots? This Bali Instagram Tour includes shots of their drone—and shots that could only be captured by their drone—as a visual cue that sets them apart. Or, if you’re working with a well-known Instagrammer, you might highlight their presence in your tour.
3. Really give it your all: You always want the best possible visuals in your gallery, but for a photography tour, it’s an absolute must. You need to give would-be guests faith that your company knows what good photography’s all about with Instagram-worthy shots of your own.
Have your own presence
Another fantastic way to build your credibility for running photo tours? Show off some impressive photos of your own. A solid Instagram presence with a well-curated feed will help convince prospective guests that you can give them the opportunity they’re looking for, and it’s also a great way to promote your tour company.
Once your tour is up and running, you can also use your Instagram account to share some of your guests’ best photos — with permission, of course.
Need some ideas for promoting your tour company on Instagram? We’ve got you covered.
When it all comes together, you’ll have a tour that gets you great reviews and your guests all the likes and views they could want. And next time your guides notice that the crowd’s all absorbed in their phones, it will be a sign of success.