Tour OperatorsForeverVacation takes the millennial market by storm with its Insta-worthy tours and guides who know a thing or two about photoshoots.

Young, beautiful and so Instagrammable: One tour operator's way to capture the millennials

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Photos like this are why millennials are flocking to ForeverVacation, whose guides double up as photographers.
Photos like this are why millennials are flocking to ForeverVacation, whose guides double up as photographers. Photo Credit: ForeverVacation

Bali-based tour operator ForeverVacation has just had its best month yet — thanks to the 'pics or it didn't happen' mentality among millennial travellers.

Like for all businesses in the sector, the pandemic was extremely challenging, but as soon as travel regulations lifted in its five markets across Southeast Asia, bookings came tumbling in for the young travel outfit. Revenge travel is a clear driver, but what skyrocketed its trajectory is the company's pivot to tours incorporated with photoshoots.

ForeverVacation CEO Ben Dolgoff and COO Janie Le.
ForeverVacation CEO Ben Dolgoff and COO Janie Le.

Founded in 2018 by Ben Dolgoff, who has a background in digital marketing, and Janie Le, a former business development executive who is also Dolgoff’s wife, ForeverVacation operates in Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, and the US.

From snorkelling with manta rays in Bali to visiting the Putra Mosque in Malacca, ForeverVacation offers 50 tours in Southeast Asia. Almost half of them are billed as Instagram tours — guides take guests to a location’s most famous and photogenic spots and then get behind the camera — and these make up around 75% of bookings.

For 40% of millennial travellers, a destination’s ‘Instagrammability’ has become the priority, with almost the entire demographic recording their holidays on social media, according to Expedia. “We focus on high-quality photos,” said Dolgoff. “It's a big part of our market and I don't see it going away. I only see it increasing.”

ForeverVacation's 'Bali Instagram Tour' takes travellers to some of Bali's most picture perfect locations such as the Tirta Gangga Water Palace.
ForeverVacation's 'Bali Instagram Tour' takes travellers to some of Bali's most picture perfect locations such as the Tirta Gangga Water Palace. Photo Credit: ForeverVacation

After the success of its Instagram tours, the company is now looking to expand into TikTok tours, which would focus on filming short videos at each location. Everything is still in the works, said Dolgoff, but after the tours guests might even receive editing assistance so the videos are ready to publish.

Other developments in the pipeline include a travel agent portal due for completion later this year. ForeverVacation currently focuses on direct bookings and partnering with OTAs to drive volume, but the new portal will allow travel agents to book tours on their guests’ behalf. Once it’s live, “we will start to focus on travel agents more.”

Despite the success ForeverVacation has enjoyed from the rise of ‘Insta tourism’, the quality of the company’s tour guides is what Dolgoff believes has garnered thousands of five-star reviews on TripAdvisor and other platforms. “When some of these tours are 13 hours long — such as our Bali Instagram Tour — it becomes less about having a guide and more about having a friend on the way.”

Guests get their own private tour guide and driver to take them around Singapore for their own photoshoot.
Guests get their own private tour guide and driver to take them around Singapore for their own photoshoot. Photo Credit: ForeverVacation

The company is also looking to recruit more female guides. In Bali, its first and biggest market, the team comprises 28 guides, two of whom are female. “Guests have started requesting female guides. We certainly want to be more diverse in that sense, and I’m excited to increase the number of female guides we employ.”

In terms of travel restart trends, ForeverVacation has seen a sharp rise in last-minute bookings and enquiries from travellers wishing to confirm that the tours are private. “I think the private tour market is increasing, which is logical after the pandemic when people are more cautious,” said Dolgoff.

So where else in the region is ForeverVacation looking to expand?

“Our next logical markets are the Philippines and Cambodia, and maybe selfishly the Maldives because we've always wanted to go there. We're always switching between focusing on growth in our current markets and world domination. Right now we're in a world domination mindset. But as an entrepreneur, you can't get too high on the highs or low on the lows.”

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