Instagram

Instagram -- the social media platform with one billion monthly active users that is especially popular with millennials—is rolling out a new program where users can click on a hotel’s profile to book reservations without leaving the app.

It’s an interesting new booking opportunity for hoteliers, both because the platform is known for its envy-inducing travel photos and also because of the social platform’s huge numbers. In May, the company said more than 200 million Instagram users visit business profiles every day. And its reach continues to increase. According to TechCrunch, the company is growing close to 5% per quarter, more than Facebook (3.12%) and Snapchat (2.13%).

Instagram is also gaining in the Asia-Pacific region and there’s room for plenty more growth there. In 2018, with 67% of that region’s population using the Internet, 27% is on Instagram, up from 15% in 2012.

How It Works

Instagram started rolling out its native payments feature back in May. It allows users to register a credit or debit card on their Instagram profile and set up a security PIN. Once they’ve done that, users can click on an Instagram business profile to book services or make a purchase.

On the business side, hotels, restaurants, and companies need to have an Instagram business account, and then they can add a call-to-action button to their profile. There are four possible actions: reserve, get tickets, start order, or book. On a hotel profile page, clicking the action button leads to a booking area that keeps the user within the Instagram platform.

Hotels are just starting to sign on with Instagram’s travel-booking feature, which is still new. One early-adopter was a Texas restaurant called HomeState. Its Instagram business profile has an easy-to-see “Start Order” button, powered by ChowNow, right next to where you tap to “call” or “email,” and just above its photos of breakfast tacos and Frito Pie. Tap on the action button, and you can easily place an online order, specifying what time you want to pick up and at which HomeState restaurant.

How Hotels Can Benefit

Instagram action buttons present an interesting opportunity for hotels. While not quite direct bookings, reservations made within the Instagram platform do bypass online travel agencies.

Hotel, restaurant, and other travel photos are wildly popular with Instagram users. According to hotelmanagement.net, Marriott Hotels has 287,000 Instagram followers, for example, while Hilton Hotels & Resorts has 226,000. Photos of hotels, destinations, and restaurants often get tens of thousands of “likes.”

Making it easy to book a stay while viewing gorgeous photos of a hotel and a destination may bring about more bookings, especially with millennials, who now constitute the largest percentage of independent hotel customers. And because the user is not directed away from Instagram to book, it’s a smooth process that can make impulse purchases easier.

In addition, hotels that have both an action button and Instagram influencers may drive even more bookings. While 24% of travelers follow at least one “influencer” on social media, 41% of millennials do.

Other platforms that allow booking travel-related reservations right on their platform include Facebook (which bought Instagram in 2012). It started offering bookings without leaving the Facebook platform about a year ago. Earlier this year, Google first made it possible for users to book their hotel and flight reservations from directly within its search results.

 

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