Instagram Stories, a new feature that lets users post a series of photos and videos that play as a slideshow and disappear after 24 hours, has revolutionized online marketing for all brands—hotels included. Virginia Contreras, creator of the blog lahotelista.net, walks hoteliers through the 10 steps of establishing an effective Instagram Stories strategy that keeps them relevant, gets then noticed, and earns them loyal guests. 

Introducing Instagram Stories from Instagram on Vimeo.

Only the hotels that stay current with the latest trends will be able to survive in a market that’s increasingly adopting the language of younger generations. After all, they’re the people the future of hospitality businesses depends on. And they’re definitely using Instagram Stories.

This new form of marketing is much more casual, simple, and spontaneous than the traditional commercial communication we’re used to, while the ephemeral content reveals the most human elements of hotels.

Which explains why Instagram Stories has conquered guests’ loyalty.

What’s so special about Instagram Stories?

We like to see the human elements of a brand, the behind the scenes, the day-to-day life. And we want it to feel personal rather than automated. Instagram Stories facilitates this backstage access, and enhances it with a repertoire of graphic resources such as fonts, filters, colors, lines, and emoticons. Therein lies its success.

Playing right into this success is the customer’s impatience, sense of urgency, and fear of not being in the know about the latest news. Human curiosity obliges us to click on those brand icons, knowing our days will be brightened by their stories.

Users can’t “Like” or leave comments, but they can send the business a private message, making this tool a good channel for connecting with guests and—who knows?—maybe even convincing them to book directly. Because Instagram also makes it possible to add links that redirect users from stories to booking sites.

Each story is only online for 24 hours, but in that time users can save the videos and images on their phones, to then share them on other social media sites. It’s also possible to publish the story somewhere besides Instagram, effectively saving it from disappearing the following day.

In this post, I’ll show you the best tricks for designing an effective Instagram Stories strategy for your hotel in just 10 steps.

1. Create a calendar of unique posts

Come up with a calendar for posting content that shows how unique your hotel is. Your goal is to reveal your business’s human aspects: your staff’s activities and interactions, lively areas with a lot of action, cool language, lots of people, minimally edited home videos…You don’t want to post corporate information here, rather, light-hearted themes that communicate value, that are helpful, and that entertain your followers.

2. Keep it casual

Graphic resources such as emoticons and casual phrases (written over the image) make Instagram Stories feel all the more personal, so use them. Think about how you write to your friends on WhatsApp, for example, and use the same language and graphic elements in your posts.
a gorgeous hotel Instagram Stories post with the overlaid text reading “home sweet home (we wish permanently”)

3. Post every day

Ensure your followers always see your hotel logo at the top of their screens when they log in to Instagram by publishing either a video or an image every single day. This is how you make sure they remember your brand, and how you build loyalty.

4. Activate the messaging feature

You want to be able to interact with your potential guests and drive traffic to your booking channels. To do this via Instagram, activate the messaging feature so you can receive and respond to private messages from your followers.

5. Track engagement

Track user engagement with your stories by swiping your finger across the screen to reveal their statistics.  This is how you know who’s looking at your posts—and how you can analyze the results to reveal which content is the most successful.

6. Share as a permanent post

Convert your best stories into permanent posts on your Instagram account. When you do, you can add descriptions and hashtags to them, effectively spreading and prolonging their visibility. Just open the story you want to share, click on the three little dots on the bottom right of your screen, and then click “Share as Post.”

7. Attract influencers

Use mentions to attract the attention of influencers, journalists, and VIP guests. All you need to do is write the @ symbol and then the name of the account belonging to the person you want to mention—and you can mention more than one per story. The person or people mentioned in your post will receive a notification, helping you build a social-media alliance with them.

8. Use the Boomerang app

Especially recommended for culinary- and cocktail-themed posts, the Boomerang app takes a burst of photos and puts them all together in a mini video story that plays backwards and forwards on repeat.

9. Post live videos

Instagram has just introduced a new functionality that lets you broadcast live events: Use it to showcase the moments that set your hotel apart. And since the brand logo is clearly visible over the video, it’s a great way to generate awareness for your hotel.

chef of a hotel restaurant picking garnishes10. Learn from others

See how other hoteliers are using Instagram Stories to establish their brands and inspire their audiences. You can also find great ideas on Instagram’s official blog.

Instagram Stories, step by step

For hoteliers new to Instagram, here’s how you can get set up and get started with the above steps and tricks. And seasoned Instagrammers, take note, because I’ve got a few new tricks for you too.

  1. After logging in to Instagram, click on the camera icon on the upper left of your screen. This is what activates your photo- and video-posting functionality.
  2. You can also post photos from your camera roll taken within the last 24 hours. If you want to post a photo taken before that, here’s a tip: take a screenshot of it and save it as a new image.
  3. To personalize your story even further, use Instagram’s graphic elements such as filters, icons, emoticons, line thicknesses, texts, fonts, and color palettes.
  4. Once you’ve added the finishing touches, emoticons, and phrases to your image or video, post it with the arrow icon, send it in a private message, or save it to your camera roll to share it on your other social media sites or to publish it later.

Are you already using Instagram Stories to promote your hotel business? Want to share your own tips with fellow hoteliers? Leave them in the comments below. And if you have any questions about Instagram Stories or how to best market your hotel online in general, ask away.

Virginia Contreras

Creator of the blog lahotelista.net, Virginia is dedicated to helping hotels develop their communication strategies and training hoteliers to use social media effectively and professionally. She regularly gives talks to raise awareness about the importance of social media as a tool for improving online reputation, sales, and occupancy. Spanish hotel & trade show Hotelsco has twice named her “Trend Hunter for the Hospitality Industry.” Her background includes a Cornell education in “New media for the professional hospitality industry” and over 17 years of working for Spain’s highest-circulating global newspaper, El Pais.

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