How To Up Your Adventure-Travel Instagram GameBeautiful Destinations’ Tom and Jeremy Jauncey share tips and insights they gleaned on their journey to 8 million Instagram followers.
On a sleepy 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 is open to the camera-welding masses. Jeremy takes his pose, a photo or two is snapped, and off he and his travel companions run to another vantage point. So why the special treatment?
Because Jeremy Jauncey is in the business of beautiful things…places, in particular. 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. In short, they specialize in creating insanely eye-catching content, digestible on social media and specifically designed to make you want to hop a plane in less than a finger swipe.
Beautiful Destinations currently is the most followed travel Instagram account in the world with a whopping 8.3 million followers in 180 countries. Pure Instagram domination from an account that grew out of a hobby. Back in 2012, Jeremy launched the account as a way to highlight the cool places he was going as a tech entrepreneur as well as what his diverse network of friends around the world were experiencing.
“It initially started as a collection of content I was posting, places I was going, but also my friends too,” Jeremy says. “Back then these were surfers, actors, musicians, poets, people doing cool things, who are now — fast-forward four years — influencers getting paid $20K to post 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 small ‘gram gained traction by the thousands over the course of a year. His younger brother Tom joined about 18 months after the account’s inception, bringing with him his creative eye and a digital advertising background. (Not to mention a commercial drone license.) The two focused on building a community of shareable, epic content. Once they hit a million followers in 2014, with the introduction of #TagSomeoneYouLove, bigger brands started to take notice.
The first to approach the guys was the world’s only 7-star hotel - the Burj Al Arab. At this point, Jeremy hadn’t exactly incorporated a formal business yet. But he and his buddies went off to capture Dubai in the (soon to be) Beautiful Destinations way. The group got full access to one of the most exclusive hotels in the world on their first real shoot. And just four short years later, the boys wrapped up 2016 by practically dangling atop the spire of the Empire State Building.
“From a visual standpoint, that’s probably one of the most adventurous shots we’ve taken,” Jeremy says. “Super dangerous - it’s freaking, crazy high! 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 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 back in New York. No photoshopping backdrops here.
A typical BD photo can get upwards of 150K Instagram “likes” in 24 hours. Think Beyoncé status of the travel world. Videos set to cool tunes and behind-the-scenes social stories all play into the media mix so that during its production the viewer feels like they are right among the action.
Arial drone shots of Jeremy swimming with sharks in French Polynesia, Tom abseiled off the tallest building in the UAE, their feet dangling from stunt choppers above landmark cityscapes…these are just some of the adrenaline-inducing, visually-stunning playgrounds the BD crew gets to access.
“Naturally, our team of creators are adrenaline seekers,” says Jeremy. “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.”
Meaning a casual Friday at the office could be bungee jumping off of the Macao Tower, the highest commercial bungee jump in the world. Although, safety and legality do play important factors in their production. Making sure that the shot visually appears death-defying is key, but barely out of view is a harness or landing deck for just-in-case moments.
As someone who openly 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,” Jeremy says. “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.
They also rely on their unpaid community of followers to produce content using the hashtag #BeautifulDestinations while, of course, giving credit to the guy or gal behind the lens. 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 in your own #beautiful media.