Starwood’s taking hotel reservations from Instagram

Everyone wants to use Instagram for sales, and Starwood’s hacking it to drive reservations.

The hotel chain’s Tribute Portfolio brand is partnering with shopping platform to let users book a stay by tapping photos on Instagram photos posted by Starwood-paid influencers. The process isn’t exactly seamless: When users tap one of the photos, they receive a link via email to book their stay at the hotel’s featured properties. Two new Parisian hotels, Le Metropolitan and Le Dokhan’s, can now be booked in this way.

“Considering our target audience of socially connected independent-minded travelers and that we are a new brand of independent hotels, social media is very important for us,” said Dave Marr, global brand leader for Tribute Portfolio.

While Instagram has started offering “shop now” buttons, marketers not spending ad dollars on the platform still don’t get to embed clickable links with their posts.

Starwood has enlisted five major social influencers – Alex’s Closet, La Revue De Kenza, J’aime tout Chez toi, Elles en Parlent and Marie Luv Pink – belonging to’s community of content creators.

“We’re not opposed to doing the sponsored ads, we actually experimented with Instagram’s carousel ads very early on,” said Marr. “But this is a great way to expand our net and find an audience that will be interested in our hotels because their favorite influencers are. Generating awareness is key, but we also expect to drive a few bookings”

The influencers’ photos will be tagged with a shopping link, @tributeportfolio and #independentmoments.

Tribute Portfolio is also encouraging customers to shoot their own content when staying at its properties and upload it to social media by using the hashtag #independentmoments. It will showcase the submissions with the hashtag on its Tumblr page. The brand will also make its Snapchat debut during the Coachella music festival.

Hotels should continue experimenting with different social and digital channels, Jason Clampet, co-founder and head of content at travel publisher Skift, “as long as you’re not validating your experiments with false metrics and actually getting ROI and analytics.”

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