When tour operators hear the term “guide” likely the first thing you think of is your wonderful hard-working employees. But in this case, “guides” takes on a new meaning in the social media universe. Instagram Guides? Didn’t they just come out with Reels?(opens in a new tab) Yes, and the reality is social media is constantly changing, and in order for your use of it to be effective, you need to adapt as well. If you have an existing Instagram account and, in particular, if you have Millennial clients(opens in a new tab), we strongly recommend looking into Guides. As frustrating as this may feel at times working to always stay on trend, when it comes to everything you need to know about Instagram Guides as a tour operator, we’ve got you covered.
Quick summary: there is certainly a lot of potential for Guides for tour operators, so keep reading!
What are Instagram Guides and Why Should You Care?
Think of Instagram Guides as the 2021 response to the printed pamphlet or informational bookie (ie. the paper guide). Similar to story highlights, they let you pick your favorite content and assemble it together. This also means that content you posted and that has now been lost in the feed can be easily accessed by past and new viewers. This point is what adds value to Guides both in terms of content creation time and re-using existing material you already have. Moreover, when someone clicks on a post feature in the guide they will be redirected towards the original post in your feed.
Guides allow you to carefully curate information into an aesthetically pleasing snippet with a digestible amount of information. This format also caters to longer-form content bringing together various elements to tell the story, a sort of play on a blog but with emphasis on the visual side of things.
Instagram Guides can be created under one of the following three categories:
- Places: Recommend places in your city and beyond
- Products: Recommend your favorite products
- Posts: Recommend posts you created or saved
Depending on your brand and your business’s strategy, all three categories have the potential to serve you.
How Do You Make A Guide?
If you are generally familiar with Instagram’s navigation, Guides are quite straightforward to get started with.
1. In the top right corner, click the + sign and select Guide.
2. Select the type of Guide you want to make.
3. If you go with Posts, select from your past photo and video posts that you would like to include.
4. Select a cover image (can be different from the posts you’ve selected). Add a title and a description.
Once your Guide is ready you can either save it as a draft or publish it. Just remember that unlike posts or stories, Guides do not automatically appear in your follower’s feeds. With this in mind, consider sharing your Guide in your Instagram story(opens in a new tab) to direct people towards it. If you’re nervous about your Guide and staying relevant in the event that something changes, you’ll be relieved to know that they are editable after published so there’s no need to panic.
Once your page has published guides, an additional icon will appear with your published content types.
What Should You Feature in a Guide?
Like blog posts, Guides are ripe with possibility! They are a great opportunity to show off your local knowledge, your products, or tours.
Another point to note is that while Guides allow you the opportunity to reuse your own content, you also have the option to feature posts that are not yours. All you need to do is save the post and it will then be accessible from your gallery when making your “Posts” Guide. You can also feature items from other shops when greeting a “Products” Guide. This can be potentially valuable in terms of linking to your partners, business that you would like to build your relationship with, or simply important attractions or locations in your area. Like tags or mentions, when you feature other pages in your guide, they will receive a notification.
Here are some great examples of Guides within the tourism and travel industry to give you some inspiration! Click them to view the full guides:
Show off your insider knowledge with a guide to your city. Perhaps feature some of the spots that your tours visit to get people excited, as well as some additional recommendations.
While not everyone is able to travel, or simply to provide general travel inspiration, this example is a great combination of Guides and virtual experiences that eager travelers can enjoy from the comfort of their homes.
When creating a locations Guide, the map feature will appear in the top right corner.
Visitors can then pull up a map and view the location of the various places you reference.
Tour operator Portuguese for a Day(opens in a new tab) took guides to another level by creating a series. This showcases how you could cater to different types of Guides based on different interests such as foodie, adventure traveler, or simply feature different neighborhoods in your city.
And as part of their gift Guide, they made sure to mention the best gift possible, one of their tours!
And the possibilities continue! What about creating a Guide of your favorite guest photos? Create one when you address the most commonly asked questions, one featuring recommendations of what guests who will take your tours should bring, a How-to Guide, or really anything else that you can think of.
Guiding You In the Right Direction
In the same way that Instagram Guides somewhat unexpectedly came into existence, one should expect that their future remains unknown. If audiences continue to interact with them, perhaps the platform will adjust features. However, if the overwhelming majority are underwhelmed, there is the risk that they will disappear just as quickly as they came to be. That being said, when it comes to your information and your brand, your strongest and most reliable tool is your website. With that in mind, continue to write your blogs and post them on your website, continue to update your photos on your website(opens in a new tab), and continue to keep your customers up to date via newsletters(opens in a new tab). Or if writing is really not your thing, we can help you with that!(opens in a new tab) Instagram Guides should be seen as an addition to this existing strong foundation.
As companies continue to discover and experience with Guides, the curated form of content is another way to connect with your audience. The best way to learn more about Guides is to scroll through your own account and look at what others are doing, even if they work in a different industry. Finally, the best way to learn more about the possibilities of Guides is to make your first one! As mentioned, Guides can be edited, and when it comes to being creative with promoting your destination and tours, there’s no one correct way and there’s certainly no wrong way!
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