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Using Instagram Stories in the hospitality industry

Instagram is all about the power of pictures. 

With over one billion active monthly users worldwide (Statista, 2018), the platform gives business users the opportunity to win over their customers with photography, captivating content and a visual, stimulating aesthetic - a particularly powerful tool for the hospitality and tourism industry.

An important factor of this tool is ‘Instagram Stories’, a feature which allows users to share “all the moments of [their] day” in slideshow format without posting directly to their profile (Instagram Press, 2016). Stories disappear after 24 hours, adding a live and fast facet to an Instagram presence while facilitating smaller updates and capturing moments which may not complement the overall theme or identity of the main feed. 

Because hospitality and tourism are such visual industries, Instagram is an important platform to make the most of, and the effective use of stories is one way to do so.

Give users a reason to engage throughout their experience

Aim to captivate guests at every stage of their stay. 

Stories provide opportunities for guests to engage with your Instagram content in a different way to usual posts. On a story, for example, viewers can ‘react’ to your stories, vote on polls answer questions, or share them to their own story. 

Tagging your location on a story allows your audience to click the link, which will take them to a page containing posts from anyone else that has tagged your venue. This can increase visibility and encourage followers to see the advocacy of previous guests. While you can also tag your location on standard posts, you can make it much more of a prominent feature when using extra features on your story.

Customers can tag your business in their story, which can then be shared on yours. This user-generated content demonstrates activity at your venue, shows that you are engaging with your customers and uses real customer experiences to promote the experience you’re offering, which will increase trust amongst your audience. For example, visitors to Losehill House Hotel & Spa often tag the Instagram page in their own story, so we created a story ‘highlight’ dedicated solely to content from other accounts - the ideal place for potential customers to see the hotel and restaurant from a guest perspective. We’ll come back to story highlights a little later. 

Content

Instagram stories will give your audience an extra glimpse of what you have to offer, whether that be spa facilities, live events, unique interiors, restaurant specials or the best selfie spots. Add personality, humanity and trust to your online identity with the right content for your image.

Storytelling

Instagram is a wonderful platform for storytelling as a whole, but the stories feature truly provides an opportunity to highlight a range of real-time special moments from each day. The intricate beauty of a wedding cake. The morning sun rising over the surrounding countryside. The sumptuous additions to a fine dining menu. Showcase the seconds and experiences that make your hotel, restaurant or attraction what it is. 

New Posts 

Like all other social media platforms, Instagram’s feed is organised by an algorithm which chooses what posts users see. The more a user engages with your posts, the more likely they are to see them at the top of their feed. Newer followers, or those for whom this isn’t the case, may need encouragement, so an Instagram Story with a hint or reminder about your latest post may nudge them in the right direction and help them to interact with your content more frequently. 

Behind The Scenes

Let people into your hotel, restaurant or spa without them even having to step through the door. A behind the scenes view will help them to envision themselves within the environments and scenarios you are presenting, which will motivate their purchase decisions. 

Teaser Videos 

Unlike Facebook, small video clips don’t always thrive on the feed and can decrease the visual quality of your overall presence. Instagram Stories allows users to reap the benefits that video creates, but post and keep footage separately to maintain a clear brand image.

Exclusive Offers

If your hotel has a quiet weekend, a story may be the perfect way to advertise an exclusive offer for your followers. More people are likely to view your story, as it appears at the top of their own newsfeed rather than solely on your profile. Plus, if users are viewing your story, they are already a captured audience with an interest in your content, so seeing an offer might just take them from interest to desire to making a booking. The fact that stories only last for 24 hours also gives you a set deadline which will ignite a sense of urgency and fear of missing out (FOMO). 

Get Follower Feedback 

Instagram recently released a widget for stories that lets users vote and choose between two options in a poll - a great way to increase customer engagement, gain valuable feedback and make your audience feel like they have contributed to the experience you are offering.  

The Boomerang App

The Boomerang app takes a dynamic burst of photos and puts them all together in a mini video story that plays backwards and forwards on repeat. This feature won’t necessarily be in keeping with your brand identity, but for those wishing to project a fun, exciting and modern personality, incorporating boomerangs into your Instagram Stories strategy may be highly engaging and beneficial. 

How to use story highlights to your advantage

Earlier in this article, we mentioned the potential of story highlights, which give accounts a way to make temporary stories a permanent feature of their main profile. Highlights allow you to create collections of media that you have shared on your story, which then appear in a row above your main feed. 

In the hospitality and tourism industries, this is particularly beneficial, as it increases the accessibility and ease of the customer journey in a visually stimulating manner. By creating highlights entitled ‘Restaurant’, ‘Spa’, ‘Weddings’ and more, you will allow users to immediately find content relevant to the service they are looking for rather than scrolling down the whole feed, just as they would on your website. 

Ensure that you maintain the overall theme of your profile on your story highlights. The aesthetics of your Instagram content is often the catalyst for people choosing to follow you. You may choose to do this by creating your own branded graphics for your Instagram stories rather than using the platform defaults, even if just as a cover for the rest of the story. See a recent example of this technique on Losehill House Hotel & Spa’s profile below. 

Instagram’s main features alone are enough to make it an essential platform for the hospitality and tourism industries, but stories add another layer to its benefits which may prove to grab your audience’s attention further. The feature has even been rolled out to Facebook, suggesting that it truly is here to stay. 

If you need help to make the most of your Instagram presence, do be in touch or explore further digital advice here

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