109 – TMG Announces Instagram Reels & Video Content Creation For Hotels

by | March 1, 2023

Join Suite Spot Host and Marketing Director Ryan Embree as he sits down with TMG Chief Technology Officer, Jason Lee, to discuss the new integration of Instagram Reels into the OneView platform. 

This episode details how hoteliers can use the OneView platform to easily create Instagram Reels and upload them directly to their social media sites with just one click for their followers to interact, engage with, and reach new travelers.

Episode Transcript

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Ryan Embree:
Welcome to Suite Spot, where hoteliers check-in and we check-out what’s trending in hotel marketing. I’m your host, Ryan Embree. Okay, hello everyone and welcome to the Suite Spot. My name is Ryan Embree, the host of The Suite Spot. Thank you for joining us today. We’ve got a very special episode. I feel like I say that all the time, but there’s a couple unique things about this episode. One, we are in our brand new content creation studio, AKA the Digital Marketing Den. We spent the last couple months revamping our entire studio, podcast studio for you, the listener, to make sure we had better audio quality for you, but also visuals. So if you were to go to YouTube right now, go to Travel Media Group’s YouTube page, you would actually see and hear us. This is the first time we are doing video. We are so excited. We have a very familiar guest. Jason, this is the first time, if you can believe it, that we’ve been face-to-face doing an episode of the Suite Spot with as many as we’ve done since 2020. It’s crazy. But welcome back to the Suite Spot, audibly and visually.

Jason Lee:
Yeah, this is awesome. It’s, it’s really awesome in here. You guys did a great job.

Ryan Embree:
Thank you so much. But we also have some awesome stuff to talk about. What you have been doing, Jason. So I’m gonna give the floor to you and talk about, you know, an amazing announcement. One of our most popular, episodes was the Instagram reels episode. I think year to date is our most popular episode. There are a lot of hoteliers that are interested in it, but it’s not just Instagram reels. We’re talking about video content today. That’s right. So, let’s jump in. I always love to kind of think, you know, take a couple steps back to get to where we are today. Why did you and your team decide to make this upgrade and, and create video content for hotels?

Jason Lee:
Well, I mean, obviously it’s a must in the toolkit of any hotel marketer, you gonna have to have video and then looking at reels, looking at TikTok. Video content is extremely popular and extremely viral. So the things that are produced are seen, and it’s not just seen by your audience. They’re seen all over the place. So, last July, I think is when Meta made the decision to open up reels into their API. So making it available for developers like us to be able to offer it. And at the time we were really excited and I think it was probably an answer to what was happening on TikTok. They were like, we’re gonna open this up and let it happen, but it, it made it available. So you have reels for Instagram obviously, but then there were also reels on Facebook. And so, making that all kind of come together and that’s why our team did this. And so we had the capability of putting reels out a while ago. So, but we also wanted a way for you to do that. And I think what a lot of marketers have trouble with is what do I put out? How do I create a video? Do I need like an editing studio? You know, what do I need to do to create a video? And we’ve simplified it and we’ve made it a really cool part of our platform where you can just make a video from your media gallery.

Ryan Embree:
You’ve made it so simple. We’re actually gonna create a video for a hotel today on this episode. So as long as it takes us to do this podcast, we’re gonna have a high quality, video for a hotel made, which is so cool to see. Yes. But you’re right. I mean, any hotel you’re listening to this, I would just challenge you to look at your Instagram feed or Facebook feed or whatever social media tool you use. What are you seeing more and more of, those still images? It’s almost like we have the copy version of social media where it was just all text and then all of a sudden we elevated that to image and now we’re going even further and going into video. So a lot of the content that creators are leaning into is this video content. And you’re right, hoteliers sometimes hear that word video content, they get overwhelmed. They don’t know. They think, okay, well maybe I need to go out and hire a whole production crew, right? Cause that’s how we in the hotel industry do our hotel photography. Maybe it’s me grabbing a video and going around the lobby. Those are obviously a couple different ways, but this way that you’ve created is so much more simpler and easier to do with assets, digital assets that hoteliers own already.

Jason Lee:
That’s right. And I think, you know, you’re absolutely right in that, especially Instagram where it was largely a visual medium and it was the place to share your vacation photos. And it still is. But when you see the engagement on video there and in other places, it’s, it’s insane. It’s so much more. And I think it’s because so many more, so many people are expecting it and you stay longer. So once you watch that first video, then you go right into the next video and the next video, the next thing you know, you know, you’re sitting there watching labradoodles all day long.

Ryan Embree:
Down the rabbit hole, right? There was a Super Bowl ad just about that, about how you can get into this. Just to give a couple quick stats on Instagram reels, Instagram, 1.5 billion daily users reels groove to 220 million users between July and October. An insane amount of users in a small amount of time. 62% of Instagram users say they use it to research brands and products. Yes, that’s over Facebook, which takes second place at 55% and it’s the preferred app of 16-24 year olds. And it’s still beating TikTok, but reels are unique because of the explore page and being able to put your hotel’s Instagram reels in an organic place where people can reach you. Talk to our listeners a little bit about what that means.

Jason Lee:
So when you post content, you’re posting it out onto your feed and people that are following you can see that, you know, so that’s that normal kind of thing when it comes to reels, you post that out, it does go to your feed as well. But now you’re in this other place and you’re in a place where people can explore videos. They’re exploring videos from all over the place. And the algorithm that Instagram uses to show you videos is based on your preferences and based on things you’re doing. So you are a hotel, you wanna reach travelers. Travelers are on Instagram wanting videos about travel that then, you know, you make that connection. But what’s cool about that is that when you make that post, it’s not just, it’s not just static staying on your page. Now, this is, actually out there and able to be viewed by a lot of people. And what’s cool about this, and I think what is gonna be the, the continuing trend is that it’s all about time on site. So meta wants to keep people longer cause that’s where they see more ads. So, they’re constantly refining their algorithm to keep people on longer and longer. And it’s all about content that they wanna see. So someone researching travel, in an area that you are at, they’re definitely gonna come across your video.

Ryan Embree:
But you have to be on it. And that, and that is the key to this, right? I mean, I can, we can throw stats back and forth all day about how many users, the ability to do this and that on Instagram, but if you’re not creating these Instagram reels, you lose because you can’t, you’re not gonna have the opportunity to be chosen. So it’s all about taking that first step, whether it’s with a company like Travel Media Group that helps you create this type of content, or going out and doing it on your own. So I feel like this is how we always end our episodes, but just you have to take that first step of being in the the arena. Otherwise you’re never gonna, you’re never gonna be able to catch the attention of a traveler.

Jason Lee:
It’s so true. And I, but I think it’s all about whatever your intention is, you know, and I think this is like the beginning of the year and we probably have like fresh or maybe not so fresh marketing plans that we created maybe October, November of last year. And now we’re trying to get into those and, and depending on the segments we’re trying to reach the ADR goals that we have, all of those things are kind of in flux. And, and you have these, these tools that are at your disposal, but it’s really about how do I get in, how do I start using them? But it’s even further than that. And, that’s how do I create a plan to consistently, you know, create content and consistently keep people, you know, engaged. Because that’s the trick. The trick is I do this one time and I’ll be like, sweet, I got a video out. Looks good. Everybody’s checking it out, right? And then maybe I’ll, maybe I’ll come back to this in the end of summer. When I’m less busy. So there’s a lot of like nuance to this and, but the biggest part of it is that you’re gonna have to consistently create content.

Ryan Embree:
Yeah. And there’s a reason why our social media content calendar within the TMG platform is, is one of the most heavily used spaces. Is because we’re planning that consistency. We’re always looking ahead as hoteliers, what’s the next occupancy driver in our market? Where do we need occupancy? Where are those gaps that we can fill it? You know, Instagram is also being used as a search engine and tool. Social media, that younger generation that we talked about, that same younger generation that led that recovery and after the pandemic, they are using social media more than they’re using places like Google and Bing, again, if you’re not in that arena, if you don’t have content out there, it’s really doing your hotel a disservice.

Jason Lee:
A hundred percent. I mean, you think about most of the places that your hotel has data, so your brand, if you’re, if you have a brand or your website OTAs, even places like TripAdvisor, and Google, it’s a lot of static information rates and availability your images from hopefully recent, but probably from a while ago. So a lot of static information and I think what travelers are looking for is they’re looking for current information and what’s more current than should be more current than your social media pages.

Ryan Embree:
Yeah, absolutely. And I’m sure we’ll talk about how, you know, video content really can fit into every single stage of the traveler’s journey. But, we kind of teased this at the top of the episode. Let’s jump into TMG one view and kind of take a crash course on how to create one of these. And yeah, again, while Jason’s setting that up and we’re getting that pulled up on the screen here, if you wanna visually see what we’re doing in real time, just go to YouTube. You can visit our page and see just how simple it is. But we’re gonna talk to those listeners that are through our audio medium, step by step, what we’re doing so that you don’t feel left out as well.

Jason Lee:
So what we have here is our publishing page. And this is, this is where all of your media lies. So this is where you have all of the images for your property, if you have video, and you can kind of set them up so you can put him into categories, images for inside your room, images for your facility, images for your area. So all those categories kind of exist so you have a way of organizing them and then you can upload as many as you want here and then we have this little create button. Once you click that, it’s gonna take you into our video creation studio. And this is where you have the ability to select a template. And so we have a bunch of different templates and as you can see on here, we have our 1×1. And this is a very standard, video template. So this is the kind of video that you can put on a feed, pretty much on any any site. And then you have the 9×16 and this lends itself more to reels, more to story posts, TikTok. So that’s that type. And you can see here the the little logos that will show you what compatible sites you have that these will go with. So once you select a template, it puts you right into adding media. So as you can see here, our first little part is where you can upload media or you can add from your media gallery. And so maybe on this one we want to talk about our property. So we insert an image of our, from our property and we quickly add some text.

Ryan Embree:
Yeah, and what Jason’s doing right now is actually adding text over the image. So again, it’s not just a static image that’s sitting there, but actually text that’s coming over the image as it’s playing.

Jason Lee:
That’s right. You also have the ability to select, soundtrack. We have venture travel, happy travel staycation and the weekend, just a bunch of different kinds of fun tracks. And so I’m gonna select Happy Travels and then I hit next, and then I can continue adding. So here I’m gonna add a picture of my room.

Ryan Embree:
And the other great thing that hoteliers can do with this is actually use this content outside of social media, right? Right. Oh yeah. You can use it, you can download it as MP4.MOV And use it in email marketing campaigns, right? Case studies for groups and testimonials. Create these types of videos directly within one view and save them. And you have so many other uses other than just social media. I think sometimes people get caught up and just say, well, you know, I’ve got someone running my social media right now. There’s other uses to create this type of content.

Jason Lee:
Definitely. So I just did check out our king bedroom and now here’s our two bedroom. And now once I click preview, it pushes out into our video engine and it’s gonna come back with this. And so yes, it’s still photography, just like you said, there’s images that are gonna come over the top of that, but as you’re gonna see in a second, it also, the images, there’s also movement inside of the images. So even though it’s actually static, we’re actually changing the focus of where it’s at inside of the image. And you don’t, don’t have to have a 9×16 image in order to make these either. So the system will automatically sort of resize to make sure that it fits inside of the frame without it looking stretched or pixelated. So just that fast we now have a video that we can play and we can show, and like you said, you can download it, you could put it, elsewhere. This is like something if you wanted to have it inside of, you know, your email signature or you wanted a way to show, different aspects of your property. So you can see here, you can add a video description, you can select category and tag and you add the video directly right into Media Gallery.

Ryan Embree:
Talk to us a little bit about how video fits within the Travelers’ Journey, because we’ve kind of talked about this, obviously, you know, a lot of people think social media is just used for inspiration, but you really dive into kind of that post booking, pre-stay and even advocacy post-day. Yeah, so kind of talk to us and, and where this video content might fit in within that.

Jason Lee:
Yeah. It’s like you said, I think inspiration to travel is that first thing we think of is like somebody before they’ve even, they’ve never encountered us and now they’re encountering us for the first time. And I think that there’s definitely a place for that there. But you think about the, the number of people that continue searching post booking and it’s crazy. It’s a crazy number. So they continue to search and it’s taken them a while. In a lot of cases it takes them, could be hundreds of searches or hundreds of touchpoints in a search to get to you. They finally book and then they continue looking. It’s really like almost confirming their purchase. And so as they’re continuing looking, they’re gonna re-encounter you and what what it shows there, you know, and and how they encounter you is really important. And that could also be what they do to share with maybe the people they’re traveling with or, you know, this is further confirmation that the place I’ve chosen is a good place to stay everybody. And so then in stay, I think it continues to be something that could be valuable. So it could be events that I have going on, or it could be other parts of my property that a video describes and explains. So it continues to be something that is valuable to the traveler. And then in post day it continues again. So it could be content that travelers either either give you through the things that they’re posting or you can repurpose that, or it could even be them posting videos that you repost. So these are all these content pieces that, that are full circle, but but it’s not just one thing. This is a place where people find information and confirm value. So don’t just like brush it by the wayside is something that’s like ancillary and I, I see my kids wasting time on it, but I don’t wanna trust it. This is a thing.

Ryan Embree:
Yeah, and a lot of the content and images that we talked about, we just had Valentine’s Day, right? How many hotelier out there did a whole marketing campaign around Valentine’s packages or stays or romantic getaways that they were trying to promote at the property. Putting those images in this video creator and creating something that you can put out there takes this to the next level. And you’re right, it’s just going to inspire, it’s going to, to help secure those bookings at that stage when they’re in it. It’s gonna help them promote the property even more afterwards. So, you know, there’s really no downside to it. But I think right now is just that trepidation of jumping right into the video content and you’ve made it extremely easy for really anyone to kind of jump in if they want to.

Jason Lee:
Yeah. And let me show you really quick, we just made that video, I just added it to the gallery. So let me show you really quick inserting that video into now inserting it into a post. So you can see that Facebook is already enabled on here. So I could actually make this a Facebook post if I wanted to just without it being on a reel. But if I go ahead and publish to Reels down here, you can see that Instagram automatically lights up, I go into to preview this and now I can actually preview and it’ll show me exactly what it’ll look like on Facebook and Instagram Reels. I can adjust my text here and then I can schedule and publish it and it goes right out.

Ryan Embree:
And that’s how you get into that coveted Explorer Page, right? And then all of a sudden Jason’s hotel right now is in a space where travelers that are interested in actually traveling. You have the opportunity to get in front of those eyes. Absolutely amazing. Like I said, Instagram Reels in talking about it, what’s our most popular episode that we’ve done. So clearly there’s an appetite for it, I think on both sides of the coin, it’s just about getting in and using a tool like TMG OneView and their social media feed to, to help you with this.

Jason Lee:
Yeah, absolutely. And I mean right now we have reels covered and video posting on, and so you can post a regular video. So that 1×1 video that we had on there, you can post that on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, on LinkedIn. So you have all of those to go with the 9×16. You can go Facebook or if you wanna go on reels and very soon we’ll have TikTok as well as that is going to be part of our platform and we’re already kind of in production to make that happen. But I think even further than that, right now, this is available in our self-publishing tool on OneView but we will be offering video content as part of our social content in the months to come. So a lot of exciting things happening, but it’s really all about how do we benefit, how do we, how do we create, you know, relevant information for travelers to help you secure those travelers, help you convert those reservations, help you keep them once they make a reservation, help you discover new travelers.

Ryan Embree:
Yeah, the appetite is really out there. I mean we’ve seen even here at Travel Media Group, this is the most inquiries we’ve got about social media for hotels. They’re looking for opportunity to capture more market share. They might have done that hotel marketing strategy that you talked about at the end of the year. And saw social media as a huge opportunity, a huge gap in their marketing strategy. And these are the type of hotels and hotel management groups that we’re currently talking to and rolling out things like this and even talking about in the future, going into TikTok, that’s huge. You know, and that’s how you gain that competitive advantage and capture more market share there. So,very, very cool. Any final thoughts before we wrap up on our first video/audio episode?

Jason Lee:
I guess my final thought would be that this is not something that you should ignore for a lot of us. We have so many things going on in running hotels is extremely challenging, but I think you can’t ignore this. It’s one of these things that is not going away. The future traveler is here. And they’re, they’re already doing this. So if you look generationally, this is already happening. So it’s whether or not you’re going to participate in it or not. And I think if you are listening to this right now, it probably means that you are thinking about doing something and wanting to further gain market share and, have a better market position. Right now, I don’t think there’s an easier way to do that than through social media.

Ryan Embree:
And It’s becoming the expectation with that new age traveler that you’re talking about. It’s new times, it’s exciting times for sure. So Jason, it was great having you back in studio for the first time in the new content creation studio. Thank you all for listening and we’ll talk to you next time on The Suite Spot. To join our loyalty program, be sure to subscribe and give us a five-star rating on iTunes. Suite Spot is produced by Travel Media Group. Our editor is Brandon Bell with Cover Art by Barry Gordon. I’m your host Ryan Embree, and we hope you enjoyed your stay.

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