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The city of New Orleans is using IGTV to get you to see more than Bourbon Street–and see the potential of Instagram video, too

The New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation recently launched a new IGTV series meant to uncover the city’s hidden gems. But who’s on IGTV?

The city of New Orleans is using IGTV to get you to see more than Bourbon Street–and see the potential of Instagram video, too
[Photo: courtesy of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation]

The New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation wants tourists to go beyond the French Quarter and Bourbon Street–and they’re using IGTV to do it.

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NOTMC recently premiered Unexpected Tour Guides, an IGTV series featuring Caramel Curves, a local black and female biker gang, taking travel influencers away from tourist traps and into the city’s hidden gems.

“It is a different way to market tourism,” says Mark Romig, president and CEO of NOTMC. “It’s not the beauty shot of the person riding in a carriage through the French Quarter. We’ve done that. We’re now elevating ourselves to a much deeper, richer, more content-inspired storytelling.”

When it comes to tourism marketing, more cities are shying away from the hokey montages of their top attractions and leaning into content that feels less like ads and more like TV shows. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s released a series of narrative shorts last year that have racked up more than 22.6 million views on YouTube. For Unexpected Tour Guides, however, NOTMC and digital marketing agency 360i are opting exclusively for IGTV, a somewhat surprising approach given IGTV’s rocky start and less-than-commanding presence on the social scene.

Instagram’s answer to YouTube launched last June and has yet to find any meaningful traction, mainly among influencers who seem to be sticking to Live Stories and regular Instagram posts. Some brands like Netflix and Nike have found moderate success with IGTV (i.e., news pickup since Instagram doesn’t divulge usage numbers), but there has yet to be a breakout show or account. At best, most people have just been repurposing existing videos into IGTV posts, often forgoing the platform’s preferred vertical format.

But with Unexpected Tour Guides, Andrew Hunter, 360i creative director, saw an ideal intersection between longer-form content and Instagram being a repository for travel posts. “We’re seeing that tourists are increasingly using Instagram to plan trips,” he says. “If they have a place in mind, then they might be using features like story highlights to find places to eat, things to do, and places to stay. But if they’re swept up in wanderlust as people on Instagram so often are, then they’re going to turn to influencers like an Alyssa Ramos to find inspiration. And so we chose to create Unexpected Tour Guides exclusively for IGTV because it pairs this eye catching local talent with these Instagram celebrities that tourists are already turning to for travel tips.”

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[Photo: courtesy of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation]
To bring Unexpected Tour Guides to life, Hunter tapped director Zac Manuel and director of photography Justin Zweifach; their previous credits include several Big Freedia music videos. The two took advantage of IGTV’s vertical format with clever uses of split screens and shots mimicking a film strip that create an almost 3-D-like quality to the picture.

“We believe the result is a Netflix-quality travel show,” Hunter says.

But will anyone watch it?

Instagram recently started pushing IGTV previews in Instagram’s main feed in a clear move to introduce more people to IGTV. One could argue the case that a series like Unexpected Tour Guides could just live as regular Instagram videos. Both Romig and Hunter remain optimistic about IGTV and have left the door open for a possible second season.

“I remember when platforms first started pushing vertical video. As a creative, I immediately, like so many others, sort of froze up and said, ‘I don’t want to do that. That’s not how this is supposed to be,'” Hunter says. “The more we played with it and the more we learned about it, it’s this incredibly freeing experience.”

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About the author

KC covers entertainment and pop culture for Fast Company. Previously, KC was part of the Emmy Award-winning team at "Good Morning America," where he was the social media producer.

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