Curalate recently hosted a fantastic webinar on Instagram best practices for hoteliers. For those not too familiar with it, Instagram is a visually driven social media platform predominantly used by Millennials. Each post must be accompanied by an image in order to be published, and hashtags play a huge role in helping your content get found.
Fashion and e-commerce retailers have become extremely successful in using Instagram to drive sales. Now, the travel industry is starting to take notice. That’s because of Instagram’s strong storytelling capabilities, all told in short snippets through images.
To help hoteliers get the most out of this digital marketing tool, we’ve brought together 7 Instagram best practices from Curalate’s webinar.
Instagram Best Practices: The Basics
If you’re new to Instagram, there are some basic things your property’s Instagram page should include.
First and foremost, have a clear call to action in your Instagram bio and include a link to your hotel website. Be sure to mention this link with every image you post. You want to ensure everything relates back to driving direct bookings. Though you can’t include hyperlinks in an Instagram post, you can promote the link in your bio. Best practice is to say something like, “check out the link in our bio for more info.”
Follow and interact with local businesses that are related to your hotel, such the local tourism board, well-known restaurants, local attractions etc. Maintaining a relationship with these businesses allows you to cross promote one another and publicize exciting local events. It’s an excellent way to show travel shoppers how active you are in the local community. It also positions you as a local expert, able to provide recommendations that guests are looking for.
Use hashtags in all of your posts to help people find your Instagram page. You should also track the Instagram hashtags being used in your local area (by individuals and local businesses) to see what tone and style of pictures get the most engagement. Try to emulate this in your own posts.
Repost Guests’ Images
The people who stay at your hotel are (hopefully) having great experiences, and 97% of the millennials at your hotel are sharing these experiences on social media. Why not take advantage of this user generated content (UGC), while paying a nice compliment to your guests’ photography skills, by reposting their images on your page? This creates a more compelling message to travel shoppers, especially Millennials, who view UGC as 40% more trustworthy than traditional advertising.
Create a unique hashtag for your property and promote it everywhere (online and on-property) for your guests to use. This will encourage them to promote your property online to their own social networks. It also makes it easy for you to find their photos. From there, all you need to do is ask for permission to repost their photos (they’ll almost never say no) with one of the many reposting Instagram apps available.
Much like traditional travel magazines, many travel brands and individual travelers are curating travel content on Instagram. Some of these accounts have millions of followers, and are an excellent way to reach more Instagram users. These travel curators work by resharing photos from other Instagram accounts, as well as publishing their own images on a consistent basis.
A great way to get your brand featured on their page is to contact the curator directly and provide them with photos to share. Often you’ll have to pay for them to share your content, but it’s well worth it to reach more travel shoppers online and potentially sell more rooms!
Another great and relatively low-cost tactic is to offer a well-known Instagrammer with a large following a free night at your hotel in exchange for some Instagram love. Ask them to take pictures of your hotel and post them on both their Instagram account and yours. Their followers will see all the beautiful pictures of your property, planting the seed for their next vacation.
Doing one of these “takeovers” on a regular basis can be a fantastic way to make use of a vacant room in exchange for some free promotion. The host of Curalate’s webinar described how he was once asked to do this and take over a hotel’s Instagram account. In the 3 days he was posting, the hotel saw 10,445 new likes and a 13.3% boost in its number of followers.
Instagram is a social platform that enables an authentic interaction between guests and hotels. These interactions can go a long way in helping a hotel differentiate itself within its competitive set. Instagram provides an excellent opportunity to learn more about what guests are saying about your property, to help you craft a better story. Some Instagram best practices include:
- have a website link in your bio, which is promoted with the photos that you share
- follow local businesses in the area and cross-promote each other
- include popular hashtags with your posts, so people can find you (e.g. #IheartNYC)
- create your own hashtag to encourage guests to promote you. Remember, it can be fun!
- repost guests’ images of your property (with permission) and tag them
- connect with travel curators and send them your fab photos to re-share
- work with an Instagram influencer to build your online profile in exchange for a free stay at your property
Learn more about how social media influences the travel shopping journey. Check out this quick recap video from our webinar, “Strategies to Thrive in Today’s Complex Travel Shopping Journey.”