In the travel, hotel and resort industry, you already know how important social media is for online marketing. Many hotels focus on their Facebook and websites, but they often ignore social media’s biggest visual star: Instagram!
Travel and tourism experts claim that a company’s Instagram profile is one of the most decisive factors in the branding of a boutique hotel or resort. Ignoring it (or not optimizing) is thus one of the biggest, and most common mistakes, of marketing your dream destination. The good news is, all Instagram really takes is some focused time and effort. If you are unsure about how to make your hotel’s Instagram shine, here are six steps to get your travel or hospitality brand started:
The single most important factor in an Instagram account in general is how visually appealing it is. After all, this social media is all about the looks. Gorgeous photos! Because of this, as a boutique hotel or retreat center, you have to ensure that every single post is perfectly flawless. Remember people decide whether they are going to follow your account within the first few seconds that they click on an image or scroll by. If what they see of your destination is immediately appealing, they will probably scroll down your feed to decide whether or not they will follow your boutique hotel or retreat center. If you want Instagram success, your property’s entire account needs to be a feast of beauty for weary social media eyes.
Your boutique hotel or resort location will not only be competing against others in the travel and hospitality industry, but also travel photographers, influencers, and talented amateur users. You want to make sure that your hotel’s account stands out from the other millions, especially if those millions also include gorgeous photographs of your property. Hospitality brands should be seen as the expert and owner of the best possible images of their destination. To do this, quality of imagery should be the first thing on your mind with each Instagram post.
Check out this feed from the amazing Four Seasons. Each of these stunning photos is clear, legible, and gorgeous to look at. Not one photo is out of place.
So your hotel has started to gain Instagram followers and you are feeling pretty excited about your expanding success. While this is definitely the first step, the Instagram growth battle is far from over. Now your boutique hotel or retreat center has to make sure you keep those followers.
People love Instagram accounts that don’t feel robotic or automatic, they want to know that there is a welcoming destination, staff, or experience behind all the amazing pictures they see. To do this, make sure your property engages with your followers as much as you can. Answer every single one of their comments, repost their pictures in your feed or Stories, and follow back your fans. One great way to engage your hotel’s Instagram followers is by posting travel questions that they can respond to in the comments. Something as simple as “What’s your favorite beach destination?” on a picture of a beach, or “What are your travel plans for the holidays?” can get followers excited about commenting and engaging with your hotel’s brand.
Creating unique hashtags for your hotel or resort brand is one of the single most effective and organic ways to create a marketing campaign for a boutique hotel or retreat center. As soon as you open an Instagram account, you should create a hashtag with your hotel brand name, tagline or slogan. Beyond this, however, you can launch hashtag challenges that invite followers to participate with your travel or hospitality brand. Some followers will discover more about your boutique hotel by exploring the hashtag years later!
A great example of this was Norwegian Cruise Line’s #CruiseLikeANorwegian campaign. The cruise line invited followers to share pictures of their cruising experiences by using the hashtag. Around 20,000+ people posted pictures, which means that Norwegian got significant social media exposure at minimum cost and effort. It was literally marketing gold done by their customers.
Like in all social media, consistency is key to a successful Instagram marketing strategy for your hotel. Posting regularly is important if you want to keep followers & potential guests interested and engaged with your hotel’s account. While the minimum is once a week, it is advisable that you post as frequently as possible- even two or three times a day if you have the time & engagement.
If you want to maximize the number of people that see your resort’s posts, use pages like iconosquare.com to find out. Also even more simply, use the Insights provided with the Instagram app to see when your followers are online & scrolling. With statistics automatically accrued from your Instagram account, the graphs will tell you what are the best times and days to post based on follower engagement. The best way to build hotel or retreat center follower engagement is to post as consistently as possible, whether this is 3 times a day, 3 times a week or once a month, but we suggest that you ramp up to at least 4-5 times per week if you’re not there already.
If you don’t have the time to post multiples times a day, or even once a week, don’t worry! All you have to do is plan & schedule your content ahead of time. Planning is an absolute must when planning travel and hospitality marketing through social media, and a schedule will let you control the quality, organization and consistency of your content more effectively.
Social media influencers are everywhere these days, so why should your hotel or retreat center not get involved? Collaborating with your property can involve nightly stays, spa treatments, romantic meals, exclusive experiences or deluxe suites. You choose or build a stay with the Instagram influencer or content creator. Hotels can accommodate overnight stays or just day visits for a tour & meal. For your little extra effort, your resort or retreat destination can have incredible photos, videos or drone shots to utilize on your Instagram feed taken by the Influencer. And the possibility to them sharing with their massive social media following. Be sure to create a contract to be able use their photos after the stay is over and have them sign it upon arrival to ensure that any brand guidelines are followed and you receive any created content in a timely fashion.
Collaborations also allow you to showcase your property from multiple, beautiful perspectives as each content creator will have their own style. Get creative with who you work with, find an aesthetic that aligns with your property and you’ll see amazing results!
Beautiful, captivating photos will get followers interested in your hotel or retreat center, but your brand personality and style will keep them around long-term. Having a pretty page with no flair will bore followers (and probably you), so be fun and have fun. Show off what makes your boutique destination unique by having inviting imagery, charming posts, truly unique content, and bringing in the humor.
For example, to celebrate their 16 year anniversary, JetBlue posted a picture of one of their planes with a tiara and claimed it was their super sweet 16. Hilton Hotels uses current events to showcase their luxury destinations. A picture of tropical paradise next to a description that reminds followers that snow is the forecast somewhere else is both witty and engaging. Let the hotel’s personality shine through, and you will gain the loyalty of your followers, which translates to more bookings and more heads in beds.
If you’re a boutique hotel, resort, or retreat center looking to maximize your marketing strategies, Instagram-it all the way. There is no more powerful social media platform you could be using right now. Potential guests want to visualize what their experience at your property location will be like before they book their stay and Instagram is the perfect platform to do just that. Given the minimal cost, simple ways to leverage impact, this is a social media marketing tool you absolutely can’t do without.
Too busy to curate content or keep up with Instagram’s ever-changing trends? The Experience Experts offer done-for-you social media services starting at affordable prices and can help uplevel your boutique hotel or retreat center.
Schedule your discovery call today. Let’s get your Instagram growing!
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