A globetrotting digital guru with a social following that is upwards of 20 million, Jeremy Jauncey is also the founder of Beautiful Destinations, an award-winning creative agency with the largest travel community on social media.
Fox PR sits down with the globetrotting tech entrepreneur to find out what hotels can do to emulate his incredible success in the travel sector.
Q1: What’s the best advice you would give to companies to help grow engagement across their social channels?
To study and understand what appeals to your core audience. Check out competitors’ channels, analyse what works and figure out how you could better it. But also, trial and error—specific saturations, content or tone of voice may attract and engage an audience more than other posts. Your social channels are an extension of your brand and they must reflect your personality. And be consistent and engage with your audience—post and comment regularly, treat your digital audience as you would a guest or client.
I also think timeliness is key. In the past, when hotels thought about marketing themselves it was framed in terms of seasonality. But social media exists in real time; and it’s every single second of the day. So if you’re waiting three months to talk to your customer, you’ve already lost them. You need to be speaking to them every single day, and in some cases, multiple times a day. We are always working on creating and curating content, all day every day.
Q2: What can companies do to better attract top influencers?
I am asked this one a lot and to be honest, I don’t think the goal should be to try and attract influencers. I think the goal should be to identify people whose audience aligns with your brand. Give them an experience that accurately reflects who you are, and work with them to generate awareness of your offering—and ultimately drive business. We’ve been in the digital/social space for a long time and would always recommend you build relationships with a handful of creators who can help you over the longer-term versus an ad hoc one-off engagement.
Q3: You are a trend spotter—when the big brands were ignoring it you were one of the first to embrace Instagram. What do you see as the next big digital trend?
Video is the fastest growing content online—Cisco estimates that by 2019, 80 percent of the world’s internet traffic will be video. From Instagram Live Stories to six-second Snapchat ads, people are consuming video at an ever-increasing rate. I think we’re going to see an even bigger explosion in video creation and consumption as the next big trend.
Q4: With the rise of YouTube, do you believe that qualifies as video? Are you moving in this direction or not?
Absolutely! We’re creating lots of video, not just for YouTube. The exciting part about the explosion of video is understanding how many different formats you have to get your head around. There’s a huge difference between a 30-minute Netflix documentary, a 15-second Instagram video or a 30-second pre-roll ad on YouTube—and if you want to build a digital business or profile, you need to embrace all these formats.
Q5: Who do you think is best placed to be in charge of social media; an in-house person or an agency?
It should be a person who understands what best appeals to the hotel’s target market. It is not down to age, it is mindset and creativity that will ultimately drive an audience to engage.
Q6: What advice would you give on handling negative engagement?
To look at each post individually to understand if the comment is one you need to respond to—for example a customer complaint—or one that does not warrant engagement. If it relates to a customer issue then try to take the conversation offline as soon as possible by offering an email address or phone number for the person to contact.
Q7: How did you grow your Beautiful Destinations following to 20 million?
We noticed travellers’ attention was shifting from traditional media outlets to mobile. We created a community that had a clear personality and focus and used Beautiful Destinations to showcase amazing photography of destinations to inspire travellers with positivity around the world. At the core was our content. The best advice I can give to anyone thinking of building an audience is to laser focus on the content they create and curate, as this is what people come to you for.
Q8: What do you do to future-proof your own brand?
At the heart of everything we create we ask ourselves: Does it inspire people to discover new and exciting destinations? Does it have a positive impact on the world?
In any business scenario, you have to adapt to changes in technology and adopt these as business practices—when Instagram started we just created images. Now we produce images, videos and cinemagraphs—a 360 approach to content. I don’t think you can ever totally future-proof yourself but we try hard to make sure we are relevant and in all the places our consumers find inspiration.
Q9: Are there any mistakes you commonly see in the way hotels photograph their properties?
Hotels should focus on the key message they want their picture to sell and with which audience they want to engage. Once you have a clear direction, photographs will reflect a lifestyle or interest, be it a family holiday, striking architectural features or a passion for cuisine. A clear brand narrative is key to success—we’ve all seen the standard lobby shot or the freshly-made sheets on a bed, so being a little more imaginative goes a long way.
Q10: What is the biggest misconception companies have about influencers?
That they are after a free holiday or product/experience. Influencers are a new form of media and they inspire their audiences with real time conversations. Traditional media (print and online) and influencers have the same requirements when showcasing hotels: they both need to review the property to give readers and followers a true reflection of the experience.
Influencers also need to be conscious that hotels have a bottom line to meet. Similarly, hotels and the wider travel industry are not used to paying for reviews. Traditional media publications do not request payment for features because they rely on advertisers for income. Influencers need to think beyond the norms of paid posts to engage with hotels that are still on the cusp of understanding how they interact with the social world.
Q11: What do you look for, first and foremost, in a luxury hotel or destination? And what is your favourite hotel in world and why?
Discovery is a key element of what I look for in a destination—this is why I love the Philippines as the people are friendly and it feels like an undiscovered part of Asia with beautiful beaches and Latin-influenced culture.
I love Velaa Private Island Resort in the Maldives. It’s the perfect balance of exclusive luxury in a private and quiet setting. The service is second to none.