With over 9.5 million followers on Instagram, Jeremy Jauncey's Beautiful Destinations inspires world travel. We meet the globetrotting digital guru helping brands capture unique images and create social-first content
It must be nice to love your job as much as Jeremy Jauncey does. Then again, it must be nice to have Jeremy Jauncey’s job. When the founder of creative Agency Beautiful Destinations starts telling me about his business, and how he achieved the holy grail of turning one’s hobby into a career, I am both jealous and desperate to know more.
The 32-year-old’s CV is impressive, to say the least. Jauncey – originally from Scotland – initially moved to New Zealand for a career in rugby, before turning his attention to e-commerce. He’s since founded and invested in multiple companies and was an ambassador for the UK in the UK Trade & Investment’s Global Entrepreneur Programme; all before founding his latest social media-inspired business venture, Beautiful Destinations, in 2012.
“It all started when a community of people from all over the world with a passion for travel and photography came together,” Jauncey explains. “We would share each other’s work, celebrate the beauty of the world, and aim to inspire people to get out there and see it for themselves.”
Soon enough, the Instagram page he had started had gained millions of followers and a renowned hotel reached out to collaborate, in the hopes of increasing its own social media following. And thus, a creative agency was born.
The company evolved and Beautiful Destinations became the agency with the largest travel community on social media – we’re talking 13.5 million people in 180 countries who turn to the brand on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, to be inspired by the world. Why? “Vibrant, colourful, high-energy images is what the brand is all about,” says Jauncey.
So, down to the nitty-gritty: what’s the secret to taking the perfect Instagram shot? It’s all about natural light, according to the entrepreneur. Specifically, first thing in the morning, an hour after the sun has risen, and the ‘golden hour’ before sunset.
“People tend to think the middle of the day, when the sun is at its brightest, is best, but the sun is actually quite harsh at that point,” Jauncey reveals.
“Light and colour play a big part in the way we choose which images to feature on our social media platforms,” Jauncey says. “Generic tourist shots aren’t what usually attract us to a city. We look for unique stories; a unique perspective on a city. What makes that city different from the rest?”
Tricks of the trade, such as using filters, and editing images via apps, are both entirely acceptable, he says. But when it comes to picking a favourite image and place, Jauncey is hesitant. “The most rewarding experiences for me have been the cities I’ve seen on social media first. The seed is planted in my head and I develop a desire to go and see it for myself, and that sense of anticipation creates some of my most enduring memories.”
Having given the term globetrotter a serious run for its money, I’m keen to know if the magic and allure of travel ever wears off. “Absolutely not,” Jauncey replies instantly. “I may have travelled more than the average person, but in reality I have only scratched the surface of what’s out there. And that’s what I love. Getting people to explore something new, even if it’s just in your local area.”
The way people travel has changed dramatically, Jauncey believes. While older generations perhaps only visited a country’s main, famed tourist attractions, the younger generation want a more genuine and authentic experience. “They want to experience each place as a local, visit the places that aren’t so widely talked about, try something completely different.”
I argue that although the younger generation are doing that, plenty of them have stopped living in the moment and are really just focused on getting that epic Instagram shot to make their friends jealous. Jauncey laughs by way of response.
“I think it’s important to recognise that this is just how the younger generation communicate nowadays. There will always be people who care more about what the perceived image is, no matter what the medium. What we are trying to do is motivate people to seize the moment and gain the experience, instead of going to take exactly the same shot.”
The aspect of the business that is really growing, is the side working with brands. While Beautiful Destinations started off focusing on travel and discovering new places, the creative agency has gone from posting beautiful images and assisting hotels, to shooting campaigns for tourist boards and world-renowned fashion brands.
“At first it was a challenge to convince brands to invest time into its social media. Although traditional marketing works, too, social media is where people are spending their time,” Jauncey explains.
The proof is in the pudding: Beautiful Destinations has recently partnered with Orlebar Brown to create three bespoke shorts.
“So much content is created online every day, and if you’re not putting in the time to get really good quality content, you’re just not going to stand out. The same goes if you are an individual, a charity, anything. Social media has been so widely adopted that if you’re not on it, you really are missing out.”
That’s why social-first content is what Jauncey and his team believe in. While brands tend to shoot campaigns first and then use those shots for social media, he recommends doing it backwards. “Our method has proven success. We shoot campaigns, discover which images are most popular and then use those across the rest of the brand’s marketing collateral.”
The other aspect to really consider is video. “Mark Zuckerberg has said that video will be the next megatrend, on the same magnitude as mobile. Facebook is looking at what people do when they’re online and an overwhelming majority are consuming, creating and sharing videos. So it’s an avenue we are really pushing.”
Although Jauncey explains to me that meeting new people is his favourite part of the job, it’s clear to see that he is keen to make a difference. He explains that he’s had meetings with the UN to discuss how it can be more impactful and engage more with a younger audience, as well as meetings with tourism ministers of various countries, and also with charities, especially those focused on looking after the planet and animals.
Expect exciting times ahead.
Jeremy Jauncey's top ten Instagram-perfect destinations
The yearly Al Dhafra Camel Festival welcomes up to 25,000 camels and brings the Bedouin spirit to life.
Traverse the city by boat.
The city blooms a new life in cherry blossom season. An iconic photograph spot is Philosopher’s Path.
View landmarks from a different vantage point: take your Instagram-ready photo of Big Ben from the Houses of Parliament archway.
New York is best explored by skyline, through places such as One World Observatory and the Brooklyn Bridge.
Travel via metro: take in the murals and art nouveau entrances.
Instagram-worthy spots are located throughout the city, from its hilly terrain to waterfront location and iconic bridges. An excellent place to capture the city’s architecture is from the top of Nob Hill.
Go to Anastasi Church in Imerovigli.
Visit this German region for its 600-year-old Christmas market.
The city of love becomes a photographer’s dream as the sun starts to set.