Photo-sharing site Instagram has provided mixed results for travel brands. The site has proven its worth when it comes to engaging guests, but has been somewhat limited with regard to driving sales. Until now.
Luxury hotel brand Conrad Hotels and Resorts has come up with an innovative solution that will allow it to create revenue from Instagram. The brand is implementing technology which will connect Instagram photos with booking technology, Skift has reported.
The brand joins the likes of retailers Nordstrom and Target in trying to find an alternative click-through solution, and becomes the first hospitality brand to do so.
Stuart Foster, vice president of marketing at Conrad Hotels and Resorts, explained: "For us, the real tipping point [for participating in the programme] is that Instagram has dramatically surged forward as a preferred platform. We can put up pictures and engage our guests, but how can we bring this full circle, motivate potential guests, 'provide the dream' and facilitate an exchange to excite them to think about booking at one of our properties?"
Now users can click on the brand's Instagram profile and be taken to a microsite filled with a gallery of photos which then lead to information about the property, TripAdvisor reviews and an all-important booking widget.
All the user activity takes place outside of Instagram, creating a gulf between the 'liked' image on the sharing service and any booking ability. It's a complex process, says Skift: the booking technology works separately to Conrad Hotels' existing app. Additionally, a user has to find a link on Conrad's Instgram profile, or discover it via Facebook, where the hotel brand has promoted it.
The move is something of a roll of the dice, says the travel magazine. The brand has yet to close any sales, but is highly optimistic about the move. If users make it to the microsite, there is an 85% click-through rate to the property pages, according to Conrad - a marked improvement on the 2.92% Facebook Ad click-through rates the brand saw in 2014.
Conrad will be looking to roll out the technology to other Hilton brands, including Waldorf Astoria and Canopy, said Foster.
With Instagram growing in influence and reach, the brand certainly needs to make some changes in the way it exploits the service. Conrad currently underperforms on the platform: according to SkiftIQ, it ranks just 28 out of 50 hotel brands in terms of followers. Its account has approximately 4,550 followers - about 30% of the hotel brand average of 13,150 followers - and as of 20 February 2015, average engagement on its content is 92 likes and comments per post.