The Instagram Interview: Talking to People About Travel Experiences Across Online and Offline Spaces

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

The Instagram Interview: Talking to People About Travel Experiences Across Online and Offline Spaces


  • Larissa Hugentobler Department of Communication and Media Research, University of Zurich, Switzerland


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Abstract:  Studying visitors’ experiences with cultural sites has been complicated by the availability of internet-connected mobile devices. Simply observing visitors on site is no longer sufficient since they can interact with a site offline and online: before, during, and after their visit. Furthermore, cultural sites are as much sites of cultural heritage as they are sites of tourism. To study such complex experiences, new approaches to the study of human interactions with cultural sites must be developed; these methods must account for the fact that the offline and online realms can no longer be considered separate. In this article, I introduce the method of the Instagram interview as applied in an Instagram ethnography, contextualized by my project on visitor experiences of a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC, where I interviewed visitors after their visit. The Instagram interview helps study a dispersed population that engages, through Instagram posts, with one physical location and its narratives, allowing conclusions about visitor experiences of the site and the role of Instagram in this context. When constructing the Instagram interview in a manner that corresponds to platform conventions, it produces personal, in-depth narratives about the interviewee’s experiences. Conceptualizing the experience of a memorial as expanding beyond the space and time of the site visit, the Instagram interview is suitable for holistically studying visitors’ complex experiences: before, during, and after their visits, as it recognizes that offline and online interactions with the site are part of the same experience.

Keywords:  cultural sites; digital ethnography; heritage tourism; Instagram; social media

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v10i3.5340


© Larissa Hugentobler. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.