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Instagram Video: Will 15 seconds make or break your hotel’s reputation?

Since launching just under two weeks ago, Instagram’s new video feature has made a huge splash in the social media world.

With an active following of 130 million users, Instagram already holds significant clout and is taken seriously by 67% of the world’s top brands, so it’s no wonder that it’s just overtaken Twitter’s Vine as the No. 1 platform for video sharing.

The app’s momentum is too powerful for hoteliers to ignore. Guest video reviews are gaining popularity on YouTube and despite the stringent six-second time limit, Vine users have already jumped at the chance to record hotel experiences: just look at this glimpse of a Kimpton hotel room.

By @vervecoffee

Rose-tinted memories or bad reviews?

Instagram Video, with a comparatively ample 15 seconds to play with, will give hoteliers enough time to answer a question or showcase their property, while guests can share their real-time hotel experiences. But will Instagram guest reviews be picture-perfect postcards of dreamy beachside cocktails or panoramas of noisy construction work and moldy bathrooms?

This is what gives the new feature such currency as a potential review tool. Positive experiences will (literally) be seen through a rose-tinted filter, while angry guests will name-and-shame with scathing commentary to accompany unsavory scenes.

Still not convinced you should spend precious time investigating yet another social media platform? 

Here’s why Instagram video is the one you need to watch:

  • Within just 24 hours of its launch on 20th June, social media fans had uploaded 5 million videos.
  • As Instagram fever peaked that same evening, users had uploaded 40 hours of footage – an astounding amount, given that each video lasts just 15 seconds.
  • The BBC reported that the number of links to Vine videos on social networks fell by nearly 500,000 the day after video was added to Instagram’s photo app on 20 June.

”On 27 June, data indicates, there were 1,562,022 mentions of Instagram and 935,109 mentions of Vine.”

Body-popping on the subway, by @jasonpollocktv

Given the tremendous buzz around video on social media right now, ReviewPro spoke with three hotels to see what they have been doing.

Too concise to tell brand stories?

In Marrakech, Barbara Abu-Zahra and Beryl Bakewell, the owners of two luxuriously decorated hotels, Chi-Chi and Ariha riads, are keen on Instagram and Pinterest to keep in touch with guests and highlight the local culture. They rely on longer two-minute videos, which are prominently displayed on the website.

“When you have two riads, there’s only so much you can show in a very short film.” They tell us. “Marrakech has so much to offer, anything less than a minute is doing it a disservice!”

They also mention that today, travelers are “savvy to travel companies’ tried and tested marketing techniques.” It’s true that consumers are less likely to trust brands nowadays, instead consulting a wide range of sources – especially traveler submitted reviews – to make independent decisions. The majority of people also look at traveler submitted reviews before committing to a decision.

At the Library Collection boutique hotel group in New York City (five of whose hotels are in the Top 10 on TripAdvisor), VP of sales, Adele Gutman, says she’s not yet convinced that either Instagram or Vine look professional enough to share with guests.

“The reality is that what I have shot so far looks, how shall I put this diplomatically…unprofessional? It did get over 50 likes, though.”

Sharing experiences

The thing is, hoteliers aren’t film directors. Of course, some videos have been painstakingly edited and others are highly creative – watch how Burberry built anticipation for their upcoming show and received a staggering 18,500 likes.

But in general, it seems the platform is less about creating “art” and more about sharing experiences, whether it’s a fashion show, body-popping on the NYC metro, summer-time frolics or latte art.

The future of social media?

At the stylish-but-affordable citizenM hotel chain, social media strategist Diego Sartori sees Instagram Video as a compelling concept because “video is really the future” and short-form videos can grab consumers’ attention. 

The hotel has launched a Mobile Citizen YouTube series, where guests can discover more about the brand’s philosophy through an insightful three-minute video featuring the chain’s founder, Rattan Chadra.

Sartori tells ReviewPro, “If you go on Instagram, you see people testing it out the same way as when Pinterest was launched. People said ‘let’s play with it.’ It’s happening now with Vine, too.”

Both Instagram and Vine will likely play a role as citizenM looks at incorporating more user-generated content into its own channels, he notes. Today, consumers already “stop everything” they are doing to watch videos like this. He expects more will stop to watch shorter videos. “It’s really powerful.”

 The 15-second format, whether hoteliers like it or not, encourages users to distil information and create coherent, bite-size messages that users will want to spread as a form of organic, self-generated advertising.

As guest reviews and image-based marketing continue to fire the engines of social media, pompous displays of hot air no longer impress. As consumers, we are wise to traditional marketing and now have the tools at our disposal – like Instagram Video – to expose brands that fail to live up to our high expectations. 

Whether we are entering a new age of video-based hotel reviews or not, it is clear that Instagram’s new video feature will be a powerful instrument for hoteliers because video is inherently visceral, immediate and honest. Today substance reins, word spreads fast, and it is authenticity that will ultimately make or break a hotel.

Instagram’s main features

So what else do hoteliers need to know about video? If you’re interested in exploring Instagram Video or Vine, there are a few basic differences, but it’s clear that Instagram has its competitive advantages.

  • Image stabilization
    Smooths out shakiness and gives the video a more polished feel
  • 13 custom filters designed especially for video
    Lends a dreamy, vintage feel to the video, creating instant memories.
  • Expanded social media connectivity
    Share Instagram videos: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, email, Foursquare
  • Cover image selection
    You decide which static cover shot to use
  • 15-second recording time

    Recording time is 15 seconds vs Vine’s 6-second clips

See Part 2: Instagram Video: Four easy ways to tell a snappy story

By @hoteltonight