Travel advisers tuning in to Instagram TV platform

Instagram TV, the long-form, vertical video platform
launched in June, is slowly beginning to creep into travel advisers’ social
media repertoire.

From showcasing client videos to bringing viewers on virtual
site inspections and familiarization trips, agents are planning — and, in a
few cases, executing — longer videos on Instagram TV (IGTV).

“It’s a really great platform to help grow your
audience,” said Alimah Graulich, social media specialist at Travel
Planners International. “I know they say most social media’s like that,
but at least for some of our agents, the constant struggle that I hear from
them is with their Instagram accounts, how they can’t grow their following. I
think if they really start to utilize IGTV, that can really help them.”

The platform enables users to post videos up to one hour
long, significantly longer than the one-minute limit Instagram places on videos
shared on its main platform. While IGTV has its own app, it can also be
accessed within the original Instagram app. Users can also post videos to
Instagram Stories, where videos and photos disappear after 24 hours and videos
have a length limit of 15 seconds.

Adoption of IGTV in the travel adviser community has been on
the slower side, but it’s a social media feature worthy of continuous testing
as it evolves, said Erina Pindar, managing director of New York-based
SmartFlyer.

“We’re always keeping a pulse on how user behaviors
evolve with new features on social,” she said. “IGTV was a really
exciting development from Instagram, but just as Instagram Stories took a bit
of time to gain traction, IGTV seems to be experiencing a similar lag. We uploaded
a five-minute video of our team trip to Ireland, and we’ve seen approximately
20% of the reach that we’d receive on Stories.”

SmartFlyer agents are also testing the tool, Pindar said,
citing Brent Wallace, an adviser based in Australia who posts site inspections
on IGTV.

In addition to featuring video captured during her travels,
Jaymie Woods, owner of Be Golden Travel in Pearland, Texas, said she would also
like to feature client testimonials using their travel videos. That would
require that clients take video and permit their agent to use it, and agents
would have no control over video quality, she said.

Theresa Chu-Bermudez, owner of Get Out! Custom Travel in
Tampa, also plans to post site inspections and her travels.

“I have been toying with the idea of having a YouTube
channel as well, but I think I’m going the Instagram TV route first simply
because it’s just way more accessible, and it’s made for viewing on a
cellphone,” Chu-Bermudez said.

Instagram TV does have similarities with other popular mobile-video
services, but it differs in ways that some see as significant. It features
vertical, not horizontal, video as its native format, and unlike Facebook Live,
it provides a more polished, edited product.

“I’m grateful that we have all these opportunities to
pick and choose these different things,” said Stacy Small, founder and CEO
of Elite Travel International in Los Angeles. “I don’t think there’s any
one form of social media that works for everyone.”

Small plans to create an IGTV channel for her agency to
which all her agents can contribute as a collective effort.

Atlas Travel and Technology Group in Marlborough, Mass.,
(No. 37 on Travel Weekly’s 2018 Power List) is in the process of developing its
IGTV channel, and according to marketing manager Ryan Ranahan, it plans to
focused on video in 2019.

Ranahan recently posted a video he took onboard the Carnival
Horizon. He said IGTV’s user interface took some getting used to, and because
he posts video on other sites for Atlas, he has to change the dimensions of
those videos to a vertical format, but he expects it to get easier as the app
evolves. 

“Despite its quirks, I think it’s still a good idea to
really pay attention to what they’re trying to do over there at Instagram,”
he said.

The service isn’t for everyone. Hao Tang, founder of
Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Besvisor, said it doesn’t fit with his social media
strategy.

“My more polished marketing is my regular Instagram
feed,” Tang said. “Then, Insta Stories are great for something more
authentic. IGTV feels like an odd in-between. It should be more polished and
higher production than regular Insta Stories. 

“But if I spend lots of time editing and filming for
IGTV, I’d just rather have that content as a regular post, so it’s easy for
people to see.”

On the host agency level, Graulich said Travel Planners
expects to feature educational content such as training and webinars via IGTV.
That will be in addition to its Facebook Live posts, which are later archived
on YouTube. 

Virtuoso is watching the space and is open to using IGTV in
the future, said Terrie Hansen, senior vice president of marketing.

“The key will be to select engaging and appropriate
content for this new, longer format,” Hansen said. “Companies have to
hold their audience’s attention for more time, so the right content is crucial.”

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