The social creative agency, Beautiful Destinations, is currently expanding its market to reach new and significantly larger audiences, in response to trends in tourist behavior.
Dubbed the “travel hunk,” Jeremy Jauncey launched the business in 2012 as a passion project.
With the idea of creating a platform for travel enthusiasts to post photos of picturesque and touristic scenes, the entrepreneur mused that the massive growth of the project was a “really good accident” as there had been no plans to generate revenue out of the Instagram account.
Currently the business has a total of 13 million followers on social media, of which 7.6 million are Instagram followers. Its CEO and founder of the company sat with the Times to speak about the team’s partnership in Macau with the Macao Government Tourism Office and Theodore Racing.
Beautiful Destinations currently has offices in New York, London and Manila. The globetrotting entrepreneur noted the urgent need for the firm to expand its human resources, which led to its campaign, ‘The World’s Coolest Job.’
Jauncey also revealed that along with its massive social media following, the firm is looking into merchandising opportunities such as launching its own ‘Beautiful Destinations’ products and co-licensing travel deals.
Macau Daily Times (MDT) – How did you come up with Beautiful Destinations?
Jeremy Jauncey (JJ) – It started in 2012 and the original idea was to be a place where people could come to celebrate the beauty of the world. […] It started as a passion project so it didn’t start as a business. The idea was to build this community of people that would come and celebrate travel and tourism and sort of learn about the world as well. […] The community got bigger and bigger. More and more people started to follow us. Tourism boards got in touch, hotels got in touch, airlines got in touch […] and that’s how we got the business.
MDT – Did you expect that it would grow to be something this big?
JJ – No, not at all. I think now we are the largest travel community in the world in social media. There are 13 million people in 180 countries that follow us on a daily basis just to be inspired with travel and tourism. It started with a passion project with one account, which then moved to Beautiful Destinations to Beautiful Hotels to Beautiful Cuisines to Beautiful Matters. We recently launched Beautiful Apparel […] and we just launched Beautiful Homes. It has ended up being a much bigger opportunity and I don’t think any of us realized its potential when we first started.
MDT – Can you tell us more about the project here in Macau?
JJ – About six months ago, we met with Theodore Racing and talked about a partnership together. […] They presented us with the opportunity of meeting with the Macau tourism board. One of the ideas that we’ve talked about is we come to Macau with Theodore Racing and put together a story that will showcase all the amazing things that were happening in Macau around the race but through the lens of Theodore Racing and as a partnership between the three of us.
MDT – Why is the team only covering the not-so-
well-known parts of the region?
JJ – I think everyone knows Macau for entertainment; all the things [that] sit around entertainment, casinos and hotels. I think a large part of what our business tries to do is tell a unique perspective on the world, tell a story that will engage people and [we] sit down with our partners and [try to] understand what’s important for them to showcase. So what we learnt from the [Macau] tourism board was that obviously there’s so much more to Macau than everyone thinks about when they look at entertainment. So can we come and tell the story of UNESCO World Heritage Sites? Can we tell the story of all the things that are in and around the other hotels that aren’t necessarily all about gambling and all about entertainment? Can we tell the story of the Grand Prix and find a way to put all of that together so that an audience might change their perceptions of how much more there is here that you can do?
MDT – Can you tell us where you’ve shot in Macau?
JJ – It’s been a jam-packed three days. We’ve shot here [Grand Lisboa], we’ve shot on race day […] we then went out to the two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. […] we did the bungee [and tower climb] experience. We were shooting with the drone, GoPros, cameras and video cameras across all of the town, and up and down the bungee as well.
MDT – You’ve been to a lot of countries, what did you find unique about Macau?
JJ – We spent a lot of time in Hong Kong and we always knew about Macau. […] The challenge for us was could we come and could we find a way to showcase Macau in a way it’s never been before [and] introduce it to a new audience of people who don’t know how amazing the place is. That’s kind of the idea for coming here. I think we found a lot more culture than we anticipated and as I learnt, the Portuguese came here 400 years ago, […] it’s the only place in the world where you have such a distinct mix of Eastern and Western culture. And you can walk down the streets of Macau and on one side see streets with Chinese names and on the other side see streets in Portuguese. We also had the chance to eat some Portuguese cuisine, […] the things you didn’t expect the region would be famous for.
MDT – After all these experiences, do you think that Macau is rich in culture?
JJ – Absolutely, definitely. And I think there’s so much more that we’d like to come back to and talk about. We had a really intense [schedule] trying to capture everything and I think we only scratched the surface so the cultural story behind the place has definitely not been told so hopefully we’re going to change that a little bit.
MDT – There’s a common misconception that Macau is a casino city, so in the video [for MGTO] the team did not feature casino activities?
JJ – We didn’t do any gambling, we didn’t do any drinking, any partying, we’re all focused on the cultural story and the experience of being here. Maybe that will change in future campaigns but I think everyone [already] knows that story about Macau. So it’s an opportunity here to tell a new story about how amazing the place is.
MDT – In which countries do you think there are opportunities to grow?
JJ – Asia, I think, is the biggest opportunity for growth, that’s why we set up the office in Manila because we have so many tourism boards and hotels that have tuned in to social media to tell their stories. So 2017 will be a big year for us in Asia. We’ve obviously just worked with the Macau tourism board and worked with the Hong Kong tourism board, and we have two or three other Asian tourism boards that will be coming online next year. We also work with Shangri-La hotels and a bunch of other Asian hotel properties. So Asia is a big area for us.
MDT – There is a study that shows that Chinese millennials are keen on traveling outside China. Is the company targeting them as well?
JJ – The Chinese outbound travel market is the largest in the world. There’s a hundred million Chinese that are going out into the world every single year and a large part is driven by the idea of looking at social media and being inspired about where to go. So we’re launching our Weibo and our WeChat early next year because we have such a huge following in the West but zero following in China, and we know Chinese people are really interested in finding out where to travel when they do come to the West. That’s a really big opportunity for us so we built a big partnership out in China to actually launch and address that.