When Instagram Stories first came out in 2016, users were confused.
Was Instagram trying to become Snapchat? Should brands recycle content across their channels?
Today, though, Instagram Stories have become a social stories platform unlike any other. Brands across industries — including hotels — are utilizing them to creatively market themselves.
Why? Because Instagram Stories allow hotels to build connections with their audiences. While static images and prerecorded videos are great, going live and sharing in-the-moment snippet stories takes that connection further.
Oh, and it doesn't hurt that the Instagram Stories has over 300 million daily users, according to Mediakix.
For properties needing inspiration, here are four creative ways hotels are using Instagram Stories.
1. Cross-Promote Channel Audiences
Many hotels struggle with getting fans from one social media platform to follow them on another. The trick is to give those fans a reason to click the "Follow" button elsewhere.
This was the predicament facing the new Bobby Hotel in Nashville, whose staff tried to send its Facebook community over to Instagram.
The team decided to offer exclusive, behind-the-scenes coverage from the hotel's opening weekend, allowing potential guests from around the world a chance to "visit." Using a small advertising budget, they targeted two groups — fans of the Bobby Hotel on Facebook and friends of those fans — to let them know they should head over to Instagram to see this coverage.
The results on Instagram:
- Follower acquisition jumped 1,633%.
- Profile visits rose 257%.
- Average post impressions doubled.
- Website clicks grew 830%, and “Get Directions" clicks increased 1,800%.
2. Utilize — and Gamify — Strategic Partnerships
Partnerships can help ramp up hotel efforts with Instagram Stories. Take, for example, Marriott Rewards' fun partnership with the National Football League (NFL), which gives members special perks such as meeting players and earning reward points by answering trivia questions.
Marriott used Instagram Stories to take this gamification further. Followers could actually play games of cornhole, score field goals and touchdowns, and do coin tosses with Instagram's "tap and hold" functionality. You can see an example here.
According to the Shorty Awards, Marriott Rewards saw average completion rates that were 20% higher than those of Marriott itself, with many rewatching the game and replying to it.
Even if you don't have the bandwith yet to create something this complex, you can utilize the platform's polling feature or share trivia questions or simple puzzles.
3. Give Guests a Reason to Engage Before, During, and After a Stay
A simple way to increase Instagram engagement is to continue captivating guests through all phases of their stay.
The Marquis Los Cabos in Mexico uses Instagram Stories to do just that, sharing through a “day in the life" lens. For instance, the team shares step-by-step recipes from onsite cooking classes, tours of suites, and best spots for views (because you know Instagrammers want to know about those juicy photo-taking spots!).
Additionally, when influencers visit the property, the Marquis Los Cabos has them take over the hotel's account for a day to share their itinerary recommendations.
Finally, the hotel shares accolades so guests can feel confident hitting the "book" button.
These Instagram Stories — which get saved to the hotel highlights — help guests plan their trips beforehand and continue the experience once they have returned home.
4. Offer an Exclusive, Limited-Time Discount
Here's the thing about Instagram Stories: Unless the hotel saves them to its highlights, they disappear within 24 hours. So if a hotel offers a discount code there, this creates urgency.
And that's not all.
Neil Sheth offers a great tip on Hotel Speak about how to take this one step further. Because Instagram Stories allows you to see who viewed your story, you can then follow up directly to see if they have questions. You might even offer an additional perk, such as a special amenity or free upgrade.
There's a bonus tip here, too: Employ the swipe-up feature — whether offering a discount or not — to increase traffic to the hotel's website and see more bookings.
Instagram Stories offer hotels a powerful tool for engaging past and potential customers, as well as increasing bookings. Hotels that are not yet using the platform — as well as those that aren't considering more creative uses — must revamp their strategies or risk missing out on huge potential growth.