This week, we’re talking about travel marketing on Instagram.

To be more precise, we’re talking about one specific Instagram photo, taken by couple Murad and Nataly Osmann, that’s symbolic of the larger shift happening among the
platform’s travel marketers and creators. In 2011, Murad came up with the now iconic photo concept, with him holding his girlfriend’s hand during a work trip in Barcelona, adding the hashtag #followmeto. What once seemed like a fun photo gimmick is now, five years later, a global phenomenon embraced by hundreds of thousands of other photographers and imitators, as well as a profitable business.

Not only have the couple launched their own website, they’ve also scored a book and TV deal as well as work on ad campaigns with a number of travel brands. The runaway success of the couple’s photo project is testament not just to the stratospheric rise of Instagram but also its continued maturation as a talent-scouting platform for travel marketers and content creators alike.

How #FollowMeTo Became an International Travel Brand
Are Instagram photographers becoming the new travel blogger? It’s no surprise that travel marketers increasingly turn to the photo-sharing platform to help drive interest in everything from destinations to new hotel properties. In fact, the wild success of photographers Murad and Nataly Osmann is further proof of just how far Instagram has come in its ability to play “king-maker” for up and coming travel content creators and so-called “influencers.” Read more

Hong Kong Airlines Promotes New Plane Cabins Using 360-Degree Ads
360-degree video, which is sometimes confused with “virtual reality” by marketers, is seeing increasing acceptance from travel brands for ad campaigns and media buys. Hong Kong Airlines is one such example. The airline is teaming up with advertising automation firm Kiosked to deliver 360 previews of its new business-class cabins to consumer smartphones. Read more

Hotels’ Latest Direct-Booking Push: Website-Only Discounts
The ongoing war between hotels and online travel agencies over direct booking is continuing at a heated pace. The latest salvo in the struggle to get travelers to purchase their rooms on the hotel’s website are special discounts offered to hotel loyalty program members. Both Marriott and Hilton recently announced a series of discounts, some as high as 25%, to members of each chain’s loyalty program who book direct. Read more

Destination Marketers Turn to Snapchat to Engage Young Travelers
More destination marketing organizations are turning to ephemeral-messaging platform Snapchat as a channel to engage younger travelers. A range of city and state destination groups, including Los Angeles, Dallas, Philadelphia and Oregon have all launched accounts on the service in recent months. Marketing tactics on the service range from targeting LGBT travelers, to providing insider city views to partnering with local city experts. Read more

Thomson Marketing Executive Talks Up Storytelling and Content in Interview
UK-based tour operator Thomson sells more than 5 million holiday tours per year — a significant feat in the market’s highly competitive package trip sector. A recent interview with Thomson’s marketing and customer experience director Jeremy Ellis offers some interesting insights into how the company’s focus on storytelling has helped it survive and thrive. Read more

How Travel App Makers Can Segment Their Potential Customers
Mobile apps can be a brutally competitive market to break into, particularly for new travel brands hoping to get their offering seen and downloaded. Hoping to get your app noticed by the right users? The key, at least according to some experts, is to focus on segmenting the types of travelers that might potentially use it. Read more

Photo Credit: The popularity of Murad and Nataly Osmann's iconic #followmeto photo project has helped the couple launch their own photography business, as well as inspiring thousands of copycats. Leo Hidalgo / Flickr