Beautiful Destinations CEO Jeremy Jauncey on how social media has transformed the travel industry

Jeremy Jauncey is the CEO and Founder of Beautiful Destinations, an award-winning creative agency behind some of the world’s most innovative travel brands. Ten years ago he saw a gap in the market to monetize his passion for travel and make it his trade.

Speaking at Skift Global Forum East (a two-day conference assembling top CEOs and creative leaders to discuss innovations coming to bear on the future of travel) he told Euronews about his beginnings.

Knocking down doors

“I would go and meet with or try to meet with leaders in travel who really didn't value social media, didn't think social media would be a platform for them to generate business," he said. "In the early stages of social media, certainly they thought that it was something that, you know, younger kids would use, that they would just be messing around it and kind of passing time without any commercial component to it. So it took us a little bit of time to knock down those doors and go in and meet with people.”

His perseverance and business savvy paid off when he was invited to collaborate with the Dubai Government to launch the world’s first tourism board campaign around a hashtag #myDubai.

“So as soon as we got that bit of business… scrambled, incorporated the company and then got everything up and running from there,” he says.

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Social media first

H says social media has transformed the travel industry.

"Leading travel bodies are suggesting that up to 90% of travellers will book travel based on content that they see on social media first," he said. "So for many of us, the first time that we are thinking or being inspired about a destination, it's because we are scrolling through Instagram reels or we're on TikTok, or we're seeing somebody who has created a piece of content that inspires us.

“If you go a little deeper, what we're hearing is that from leaders like Google, that as much as 40% of younger travellers are actually not even using Google Search or Google Maps anymore. They're going into TikTok and Instagram reels and then typing in the hashtags of the place that they are, the restaurant that they want to go to, to see that video content. So I think that's a very, very big shift that is starting to happen within those platforms for the way people actually discover travel.”

Environmental changemaker

Often described as an environmental changemaker Jeremy is a big advocate for sustainable travel.

“We cannot go back to the kind of travel that we were doing pre-pandemic," he says. "Because 2019, I think, was the 10th year of consecutive growth in our industry. One in every ten jobs was in travel and tourism, one in every five newly created jobs was in travel and tourism. So the industry was exploding. But as was over-tourism.

“Really for us what we're trying to do is talk about lesser-known destinations. Push people to go to places that they maybe haven't gone to before. Social media is an amazing way to do that."

Social media and mental health

Jeremy is also vocal on the impact of social media impacting mental health and self-validation.

In his younger years he played rugby for Scotland, but his career ended prematurely following an injury while playing in New Zealand. It was a time that affected him massively.

“Unfortunately, with a lot of social media, it's very easy to connect with anyone and everyone," he says. "And people really don't filter what they say. So I think anyone that really has challenges as a consequence of what they experience online has to come forward and talk about it.

"So I think there are places and pockets around the world where they're limiting the amount of time that people spend on social media. They have tools that allow you to kind of really closely track the kind of content that maybe your kids or your family are looking at and they’re just more aware. And hopefully, you know, people with an audience or people with influence can tell them that and can reach out to them.”