How To Up Your Adventure-Travel Instagram GameJeremy Jauncey is the founder of hit social media travel company, Beautiful Destinations. Here he shares some things he’s learned on his journey to 8 million Instagram followers
One morning in India, Jeremy Jauncey and his team rush through the empty gates of the Taj Mahal. It’s five minutes before the world’s most photographed mausoleum opens to the camera-welding masses. Jeremy strikes a pose before a photo or two is snapped, and off he and his travel companions run to another vantage point. So why the special treatment?
Jauncey gains early access to the world’s most beautiful tourist attractions because he makes a living out of documenting them on social media. The 32-year-old former tech entrepreneur is the founder of Beautiful Destinations, a creative agency that produces ‘social first’ travel and lifestyle marketing campaigns. They specialise in creating eye-catching content that’s designed to make you want to travel.
Beautiful Destinations is currently the most followed travel Instagram account in the world with a whopping 8.3 million followers in 180 countries. Jauncey launched the account in 2012 as a way of highlighting the cool places he was visiting as a tech entrepreneur and showing the things his friends around the world were experiencing.
“It started as a collection of content I was posting; places I was going, but also my friends too,” says Jeremy. “Back then these were surfers, actors, musicians, poets, people doing cool things, who are now – fast forward four years – influencers getting paid 20 thousand US dollars to post [on social media] and who have a whole career of actually telling stories on social media. But back then, it was just a community of people that wanted to celebrate the world with content.”
Jeremy’s Instagram account gained thousands of followers over the course of a year. His younger brother Tom joined about 18 months after the account’s inception, bringing with him a creative eye, a background in digital advertising, and a commercial drone license, which would come in handy later. Some of the world’s biggest brands started take notice when they hit a million followers in 2014, which came partly thanks to their #TagSomeoneYouLove hashtag.
Dubai Tourism was the first company to employ Tom and Jeremy’s social media skills. At that point, Jeremy hadn’t exactly incorporated a formal business yet. But he and his partner went off to capture Dubai in the only way they knew. They were granted full access to one of the most exclusive hotels in the world. Four years later, they finished 2016 by shooting from to the spire of the Empire State Building.
“From a visual standpoint, that’s probably one of the most adventurous shots we’ve taken,” says Jeremy. “The actual standing deck is very, very small, so two people can barely walk past one another.”
Of course, these aren’t just typical pics you and your friends take while snorkeling in the Caribbean. The BD brand takes already visually appealing places and pushes them five steps further. Photos are taken using drones, DSLR cameras with HD video or sometimes simply the built-in camera on a smartphone. Some of the best shots – like Tom or Jeremy’s feet dangling from the sides of helicopters – were captured using a smartphone and are either raw or slightly edited by their team in New York.
A typical BD photo can garner upwards of 150,000 likes on Instagram in about 24 hours – that’s like a Beyoncé status update of the travel world. Videos are set to cool tunes and behind-the-scenes social stories all play into the media mix so the viewer feels like they’re right amongst the action.
“Naturally, our team of creators are adrenaline seekers,” says Jeremy, who has swam with sharks in French Polynesia while in pursuit of capturing the most inspiring content. “This isn’t surprising when you think about the nature of what we do. But part of the beauty of our work is all about perception. Sometimes our photos are taken from a certain angle or cropped to a certain composition to hide a platform or rooftop below us. It’s part of our magic.”
These guys don’t really do a casual Friday at the office. Instead, they might be taking on the highest commercial bungee jump in the world, which is the Macao Tower, in Sé, Macau, China. Making sure the shot appears death-defying is key, but just out of view is a harness or landing deck, as safety law play important roles in their productions, of course.
As someone who prefers capturing shots on a smartphone, Jeremy’s learned a few things along the way that can help anyone take their travel memories to a whole new level.
“The first thing is making sure that you capture a unique perspective of what you’re seeing,” says Jeremy. “That’s the core of successful Instagrammers. The second thing is to teach yourself the smartphone editing apps like VSCO and Snapseed.”
As a former techy, Jeremy also recommends using public analytics websites like Social Blade and Iconosquare to track your audience preferences, allowing you to give the people exactly what they want.
Jeremy and his brother also rely on their unpaid community of followers to produce content using the hashtag #BeautifulDestinations while, of course, giving credit to the photographer. The team is always looking for new content created by enthusiasts all over the globe, so snap a few of your own and don’t forget to tag them.