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How can hotels capitalize on Instagram’s new booking feature?

Last month, Instagram announced new action buttons that will allow users to book a hotel room directly within the app. Users can now ‘Book’, ‘Reserve’, ‘Get Tickets’, or ‘Start Order’.

Instagram has teamed up with numerous booking partners, including Yelp, OpenTable, EventBrite, SevenRooms and Booksy, with plenty more companies lined up as part of its ongoing expansion.

All of this represents a big leap forward. Previously, travelers could only get in touch or make a reservation with a hotel using a “call us” or “message us” button. These new action buttons now add a new level of convenience by letting users reach a booking page in just one tap.

This rollout follows on from Instagram’s recent native payments feature, which enables payments to be made on the platform. In addition, it’s now easier to communicate with customers thanks to a simplified inbox that shows messages in the Direct inbox, rather than the pending folder. A ‘quick replies’ tool is also being tested to speed up responses.

So what does this all mean for hotels, and in particular, how can they take advantage of Instagram’s new action buttons to drive more direct bookings?

The influence of Instagram on travelers

Instagram now has over 500 million daily active users sharing an average of 80 million photos a day. When it comes to travel, images of exotic destinations, accommodations and experiences earn thousands of likes and have a major influence on where people decide to visit. Instagram is also incredibly effective at driving engagement. An analysis in 2017 found that brands receive four times more engagement on Instagram than they do on Facebook.

In the past, brands such as Conrad Hotels and Resorts and Starwood enabled travelers to book a hotel room by tapping on an Instagram photo. But these weren’t entirely hassle–free. In the case of Starwood, after tapping a photo, users were emailed a link to book their stay at the hotel’s featured properties.

With the new call-to-action buttons, this kind of booking friction will be eliminated. Now, an inspiring image on a hotel’s Instagram channel puts travelers just one click away from being able to book a room.

Using Instagram to drive more bookings

How to use Instagram to drive more bookings

At present, Instagram’s new feature is limited in availability to a selection of partners and businesses. However, these initial numbers are likely to grow fast. If travelers do start using the platform to book accommodation, hotels will need to educate themselves on how to make the most of this new opportunity.

To add a call-to-action button to your business profile, take a look at Instagram’s dedicated guide. Once added, the following tips will help you actively start driving more direct bookings.

1. Inspire guests with your images

People frequently turn to Instagram for inspiration when they’re dreaming of their next trip. In fact, 40% of millennials admit choosing a destination based on its ‘Instagrammability’. So by posting captivating images of your hotel and destination on a regular basis, you can have a direct influence on where people choose to book.

From a sigh-inducing shot of your beachside location, to your chef’s crowd-pleasing signature dish, to an idyllic image of your pool at sunrise, think about the kind of images that will set the imagination racing of your typical guest.

Be sure to include photos of guests having fun at your property to help others relate to the experiences you’re trying to showcase. Make sure you capture plenty of images around your local neighborhood, too. Photos of iconic landmarks, tourist attractions, natural beauty spots, and simple scenes of everyday life will all help set the scene and bring your destination to life.

Remember, quality matters. If you’re taking the images yourself, invest in a good quality camera that does your destination justice. Or better still, hire a professional photographer to help plan and execute the visuals of your attention-grabbing Instagram strategy.

2. Help guests capture the ultimate selfie

Travelers love using Instagram to post vacation selfies. Knowing how this trend can be harnessed to generate exposure, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island introduced its own Instagram Butler. It’s a clever idea, designed to encourage guests to capture and share captivating images of the hotel and destination on social media. Special hotel-curated itineraries include a cooking course, stargazing session, and a five-tour of the local atolls.

Having your own Instagram butler might sound extravagant, but Conrad’s butlers essentially act as tour guides — showing guests where to capture the best photos around the island with tips on the best angles and times of day to shoot.

This service is something that can be easily replicated, either by training a member of your own staff, or by hiring a local photographer. By combining photography sessions with Instagram-themed tours around your neighborhood, you’ll naturally encourage more guests to share their images and showcase your destination in the best possible light.

3. Harness the power of influencers

Influencer marketing is now big business — especially on image-focused platforms such as Instagram. Back in 2016, Le Riad Yasmine in Marrakech shot to fame when Instagram couple Jack Morris and Lauren Bullen posted selfies at the hotel’s pool, reaching an audience of nearly 2.5 million followers.

Suffice to say, teaming up with an influencer that connects with your own audience can seriously help drive engagement and bookings. Hotels are now offering incentives such as free accommodation to incentive influencers to stay at their property, all in the attempt to boost exposure and credibility among their legions of loyal followers.

To discover how to find and work with social influencers, take a look at our dedicated guide.

4. Share your guests’ photos

The influence of social media is driven largely by peer recommendations, not brand-promoted content. In particular, millennials view user-generated content as 40% more trustworthy than traditional advertising. So while your hotel should definitely be posting its own content, you’ll likely get a better response by sharing images snapped by your guests.

This all requires being proactive. Set up a unique hashtag for your hotel, promote it widely, and encourage guests to use it to post their photographs on their own social networks. Be sure to ask them if you can also repost their images on your hotel’s own Instagram account to maximize your exposure.

Harnessing Instagram to generate bookings

Instagram is already well-known as being a key influencer on traveler behavior. Now, its new booking capabilities take things one step further, turning it into a platform where travel inspiration and bookings can all happen in one place.

This quick and seamless connection will no doubt prove an attractive option for the socially-connected traveler, creating a new revenue-driving opportunity that many hoteliers will undoubtedly want to exploit.

Travel Tripper is working closely with Facebook to get access to this feature and will inform our clients when this marketing solution becomes available to our clients in the future. If you’re interested in hearing more details, please contact ussales@pegs.com or your Travel Tripper client service manager for product updates. 

Nancy Huang

Nancy Huang

Nancy is the Senior Marketing Director at Pegasus and expert in strategic communication, brand development, and content marketing. She is an admitted travel junkie and loves finding amazing hotel deals when booking direct. Contact her at nancy.huang@pegs.com.

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