Instagram offers fast and free marketing. Here’s how hoteliers can make their pictures say a thousand words
How do you ensure your Instagram posts are selling your hotel? Whether it’s tone of voice or imagery, everything about your Instagram account needs to align with your brand – and that can vary widely from hotel to hotel.
“It’s a very public forum, so it’s important that we get it right,” says Paula Fitzherbert, group director of public relations of the Maybourne Hotel Group, which incorporates Claridge’s, the Connaught and the Berkeley in London. “It provides a whole new marketing campaign for hotels and it’s a huge resource.”
Make Pictures a Priority
The Rosewood London hotel has New York-based agency Spherical in charge of its community management and social media, and the agency visits the hotel a few times a year to photograph the property. After taking on the agency, the hotel’s account quickly garnered an additional 10,000 followers. The marketing team has also started investing US$370 per month on social media advertising.
The Ned in London has a carefully curated feed of professional images and beautifully shot videos that has earned it 181,000 followers to date. Social media and marketing manager Laura Dickinson says video content receives the highest levels of engagement, with many garnering about 10,000+ views each. Ahead of the hotel’s opening, Instagram was used to build excitement with ‘behind the scenes’ pictures and short videos, providing a look behind the building’s iconic doorways.
How to Get the perfect Instagram shot
- If you can’t afford a professional agency, use your existing resources: create a staff WhatsApp group and ask your team to share the images they’ve captured on the job. You can even incentivise them with a prize for the month’s photo with the highest number of likes
- Think about lighting. If you don’t have professional lights, take your photographs in daylight, near windows, and with a decent backdrop
- Don’t photograph what everyone else does; focus on what makes your hotel unique
- Ensure all lines are straight, whether that’s a horizon, the edge of a table or the side of a building
- Photos with people in them can help your followers and guests relate to the experience they will have. If your hotel is pet-friendly, adding a cute pooch is even better
Signature dishes make good Instagram fodder
Creating Instagram Moments
While it’s paramount to get the right images on your own feed, the pictures other people take of your hotel are just as important.
Exclusive Hotels has one group Instagram account encompassing its four properties, to encourage visitors to look at all its hotels. The group focuses on creating ‘Instagram moments’ – deliberately curated opportunities for guests to take photos and Instagram them. In one 18-month period, the hotel posted 87 photos and gained 810 followers.
EL&N cafe founder Alexandra Miller, who’s London-born chain has just extended to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is known for creating Instagram-friendly interiors. Every venue is specifically designed with social media in mind.
EL&N founder Alexandra Miller
“People trust their friends more than they trust corporate accounts,” says Exclusive managing director Danny Pecorelli. “It’s more powerful when people are doing it about you. If you push too many offers, people get bored.”
Although it can be harder to quantify how much revenue Instagram is driving, Pecorelli says that when The Only Way is Essex reality TV star Megan McKenna posted a photo of herself in the Yin and Yang tub on social media last year, the phones were ringing the next day with people wanting to book the suite.
The team at Rosewood London spends up to two hours a day liking and responding to every picture of the hotel
Rosewood London aims to respond to every Instagram message, including negative comments, within two hours, and it even organises restaurant bookings through Instagram.
Instagram can have an enduring effect offline. The Hilton Cleveland Downtown in Ohio in the US, for example, asked locals to send in selfies featuring Cleveland landmarks, which it then used to create a huge mural depicting the city’s skyline. The mural went on display in the hotel and is still popular with the locals, who pop in to spot their own photos and often end up staying for a cocktail or dinner.
Influencing the Influencers
One problematic aspect of community management has been engagement with bloggers and influencers. One post on the Instagram account of someone with a large and engaged following can help build brand awareness and even drive business. But who do you trust?
Sandiford says he will respond positively to those who have a professional-looking blog with a significant following who have made the effort to find his email address and approach him with a well-written pitch.
Choose an influencer that reflects your brand values and ensure everyone is clear about what is expected. Look carefully at the person’s Instagram images. Are you happy with their style of photography and the type of pictures they take?
Blogger Camille Kenny-Ryder, aka Thoroughly Modern Milly, has 40,000 followers and 70,000 unique users per month visiting her blog. She stays in hotels approximately once a week, and most of the time the hotel will approach her with an offer of a room. She clarifies which posts are paid for by putting #ad on an Instagram post or ‘sponsored’ at the end of a blog, and will charge about US$370 for an Instagram post.
She advises hotels to do their research, so they know what to expect from an influencer. For example, she doesn’t tend to agree on a set number of photos, and points out that to suddenly start posting 10 photos a day to an account that does not post often could result in a loss of followers. She adds: “If you have come to me and you have asked me to do it, you have to trust that I will do what I believe is best for your hotel.”