Social media has had a huge impact on the travel industry. Fifty-two percent of respondents in a survey said that seeing friend’s photos on Facebook inspired them to make travel plans. Another 52 percent admitted that they changed their travel plans after checking hotels, airlines and destinations on social media.

Most travel brands rely on destination-related visuals to promote their products and services. In an industry that relies heavily on imagery, Instagram seems to be the perfect marketing channel for travel and tourism professionals. Here are three ways travel and tourism brands can utilize Instagram:

  1. Use hashtags and location tags

The hashtag is an Instagram staple – by using popular hashtags like #TBT, #Wanderlust, and #TravelTuesday, travel brands can become a part of a larger conversation and boost the visibility of their posts organically. Instagram’s more recent updates allow users to search for posts using location and view trending places. By tagging each post at the location it refers to, brands can directly target people who are interested in that destination. I can personally attest to the power of the hashtag when it comes to travel related content; I gain 5-10 Instagram followers every time I use #Travel in my posts.

  1. Highlight user-generated content

Sharing user generated content on Instagram is a great way to drive engagement and increase brand loyalty.  Travel + Leisure’s account focuses on user-generated content, sharing posts from three or four users each day. Users are excited by the prospect of having their content shared: 84 percent of Instagram users surveyed said that they like ‘likes’. User-generated content is a win-win for brands and fans: Users gain exposure and likes on their content, while brands appear more authentic and save the expense of hiring professionals to create their content.

  1. Don’t just post a pretty photo – educate your audience

While photos of beautiful locations is sure to drive engagement, the goal of travel and tourism brands is to get people to actually travel. The best way to do this is to educate the audience. When sharing a photo, brands should give background information such as the history and the culture of the locations in the shot. While a picturesque location may inspire wanderlust in the audience, the prospect of an experience is more likely to inspire action.