With everyone encouraged to #StayHome, most are spending much more time online and better yet, on social media. And because of that, over 73% of influencers and brands have seen double their normal engagement rates, if not more. This is an amazing opportunity for destination marketing organizations to invest more energy and time engaging and connecting with their audiences. Through inspiration and entertainment, you’ll create an escape that doesn’t just add a few likes to your page. You’ll create lasting connections that will translate to bookings in the future when we can all travel again.

Today we’re sharing how destinations and brands can create a virtual, interactive roadmap using Instagram stories—ultimately increasing awareness for local businesses and attractions, engaging potential future visitors, and keeping the traveling mindset in their area alive.

Step 1: Pick out 10-15 places you would like to highlight. We recommend selecting  a mixture of businesses, attractions, restaurants, activity partners, parks, etc. to keep things interesting.

Step 2: Collect content of your selected destinations from their Instagram account. Be sure to look at their tagged posts as well. If you find influencer or UGC content while doing this, definitely save it to add in as well. Or if you had influencers visit your destination in recent years, be sure to add their photos and tag them too.

*Pro tip: Rather than screenshotting photos and risking a poor crop or a decreased quality in resolution, try a Chrome extension like Downloader For Instagram, which quickly downloads selected images and saves them directly to your desktop. Many of these plug-ins and extensions even name the file with the handle of the Instagram account that the image was sourced from, making photo crediting that much easier to remember.

Step 3: Share the curated content to your Instagram story. Be sure to start with a simple intro slide that explains what the following series of slides will entail. Here’s an example:

“While we all #StayHomeStaySafe, we have decided to bring our destination to you. Today we’re taking you on a virtual road trip across (insert your city/state/destination)!”

Step 4: As you post the curated content to your stories, make sure to do the following:

Always tag the destination and the photographer. Doing so is not only right from an ethical and photo crediting standpoint, but it also allows both the photographer and the destination to repost it on their Instagram story. This is key for increasing awareness and can help you gain more followers and future visitors. Now is also the time to use any influencer content you might have sourced. If influencers choose to repost the story you tagged them in, it has the potential to reach thousands of their Instagram followers.

When possible, also geo-tag the location. This allows those who are already searching the location to stumble across your content. It also allows your followers who are viewing the story to see the attraction on a map.

Implement strong CTAs on each or every other slide to drive engagement. This could look like swiping up to an influencer’s travel blog post about the location or using the quiz and question buttons that are built into Instagram (accessible via the sticker icon on the top right side of your story screen). There’s even a sticker for donations. Play around here and get creative!

Step 5: Close out with a slide that asks followers where you should visit next.

Visit The USA did an amazing job of creating a virtual road map on their Instagram story, which goes to show that you can do this at the city, state or national level. The screenshots below are little snippets from their trip across Arizona:

And there you have it: a virtual roadmap! If you want to take it one step further and have this content live online, consider translating into a blog like what we did here for Visit Virginia Beach. Happy mapping! 🗺