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Five ways to get more bookings through Instagram

Instagram is all about experiences and visual storytelling. The platform’s image-based structure perfectly suits the hedonic and visual qualities of hospitality, tourism and leisure organisations, helping brands to show their target audience the benefits of engaging in their experiences, rather than simply telling them. 

By now, all experience-based organisations should see the value of Instagram as a powerful marketing tool, but what specific actions can be taken to increase visitors, bookings and footfall? We put together our five top tips to give you a little inspiration: 

Create an enticing aesthetic consistent with your brand identity

Brand identity is particularly important when promoting experiential products and services. These services are often defined and judged in the way they make people feel, or the sensations they are given through participation. This means that part of their value is intangible; the visitor does not exchange money or time for a physical object, but for emotion, beauty, culture, fun, education and beyond. When showcasing your brand online, therefore, it is essential to capture the feelings, motivations and benefits associated with the organisation in order to truly entice new audiences. 

  • Consider what makes your organisation recognisable, and how you want people to feel when they visit.
  • Combine this with ideas around the character of your brand, its role in the lives of its visitors, and how audiences want to appear to others when they engage in the experience you offer.
  • Develop an aesthetic for your Instagram feed that translates your findings within your content. 

For example, the priority for a castle or historic house would be to convey the atmosphere and beauty of their physical site, perhaps using informational captions to share historical facts and establish themself as an educator or guide to their visitors. On the other hand, an independent cinema might require a more vibrant presence, using bold colours to stand out and share dynamic visuals that draw attention to their films and events. The key is to replicate the brand identity you project in offline environments in the form of high quality images and videos on Instagram. 

Provide a window into the experience you are offering

Give people an idea of what they can expect from their visit, and help them to picture themselves immersed in the promised experience. Your Instagram feed should feel like your audience has stepped into the world of your organisation, and start to give them the feelings and sensations that you would expect them to get when there in person. If users connect to the image you are projecting, that is when their desire for your experience will grow, and encourage them to take action. 

The aesthetic of your feed and content will certainly contribute to this, but there are plenty of other ways to help people feel connected to and inspired by your brand. You may choose to show real visitors enjoying the experience themselves, or use testimonials, reviews and recommendations from TripAdvisor (and other sources) to gain further trust and credibility. Video is, of course, another highly effective way of letting people see into the experience, and is becoming more and more influential within Instagram’s infrastructure (see below). 

Use video to tell the story of your brand 

Since the rise of TikTok, Instagram has begun to make changes to the app which prioritize or celebrate video over other forms of content. This does not mean that image-based content is entirely futile on the platform, but it is likely to be more effective when reinforced with videos. 

If you haven’t done so already, we’d recommend getting to grips with the Reels and IGTV features of the platform, which allow users to create and edit simple video content that can be highly successful in generating engagement and exposure. There are plenty of content ideas that fit with experiential products, such as site tours, FAQs, views, performances, interviews and beyond. Organisations like music or event venues may also benefit from live video as another way to bring digital users into the physical environment of the brand. 

Make the most of stories and highlights

Instagram was almost revolutionized by the introduction of the Stories feature, which allows users to share fleeting thoughts or moments of their life that disappear after 24 hours. Not only do Stories provide a way for users to post content without affecting the visual aesthetic of their main wall, they appear right at the top of the main feed, meaning that they provide an ideal opportunity to grab attention and increase reach without navigating the feed algorithm.

Here are a few content ideas specifically for Instagram stories that particularly compliment experiential organisations: 

  • Highlight moments: Remember the idea of creating a window into your experience. 
  • User-generated content: Repost images and videos from your audience to add credibility and build trust by showcasing the experience and opinions of real visitors. 
  • Behind the scenes: Give people an insight into the human side of the business to encourage them to relate to your team and help them to feel like a part of the story. 
  • Link new content: Tease your new posts on your story to drive traffic to your profile. 
  • Polls and questions: Let your audience give you feedback and ideas about the experience in an open and engaging way through the polls and questions widgets within the feature. This will, again, help your audience to feel involved in the experience you deliver. 
  • Layouts and multi-capture: Add multiple images to your stories using this recently introduced feature, which allows you to showcase different elements of your provided experience in one singular image. 

Once you have a strong collection of past stories, begin to organise them into Highlights, which appear on your main profile like mini, themed collections of your past content. These Highlights are a wonderful way of adding depth to your main profile and making it as easy as possible for your audience to find the information or content they are looking for. 

Run advertisements through Facebook

One of the main benefits of Facebook’s ownership of Instagram is the advertising resources it facilitates for businesses on Instagram. No matter what type of experience you provide, you can run highly-targeted ads that cut through the complex algorithms of the platform and get your content in front of your target audience.

Post engagement and web traffic ads work particularly well on Instagram, and video can be sponsored too to give it an extra boost. Capture your audience’s attention through dynamic visual imagery, increase their interest with a concise and compelling caption, and then push people to take action by adding clear call-to-actions (CTA) as a button (e.g. “Book Now”) or within the text itself. Always ensure that you are pointing people to the right landing page or information, and keep in mind that the purpose of your ads is to inspire bookings. Using this purpose to develop your advertisements will help you to refine the impression you make on potential visitors and appeal to them by underlining the benefits they are seeking in an experience like yours. 

Be in touch with our team to explore how you can get more visitors, repeat custom and lifelong fans through your digital channels, or explore further advice and guidance on the rest of our digital marketing blog

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