It’s an age-old sentiment that a picture is worth a thousand words, never is this truer than in the world of travel marketing. Perfectly caught pixels can transport you to another world – and Instagram is one of the best tools on the market to take you there.

Instagram is more than mere snapshots of a sparkling pool; with a creative mind, the scope can be endless.

From capturing behind the scenes action to showcasing nearby attractions, creating videos of killer tours, and delivering user generated content – you can plan an energized, exiting and comprehensive plan around Instagram.

Instagram has over 400 million users and according to a study by Curulate 48% of Instagram users are inspired by the app when it comes to selecting their next travel destination.

With its easy to use filters, trending hashtags, and lack of language barrier, Instagram is a match made in heaven for hotels looking for an effective content marketing strategy.

A Quick Word on Branding

The golden rule of Hotel marketing doesn’t stop at the door of Instagram, remember that consistency is key when building trust and rapport with your audience.

If your hotel has built its image on being fun, young and quirky – then your choice of images and even your filters should represent that.

Your brand should shine through your Instagram account, not only in terms of the pictures you publish but also in the choice of language in the captions.

Take a look at these ideas for utilizing the power of Instagram to delight your guests…

Share your Story

Since the dawn of time we have been drawn to stories, and creating a visual story around your hotel is sure to bring more than a dash of inspiration.

A great story is built around the smaller moments – as any good novelist will tell you; it’s all about the details.

Sure, your guests are going to adore those big moment images – the beauty of the belle époque façade at sunset, the wedding party you hosted at the weekend, and the time Matthew McConaughey came to stay.

Yet, the everyday details give a deeper glimpse into your world, and it’s this overall aesthetic that tempts people through the door.

From the chocolate covered strawberries at breakfast to how plump and warm the bed looks on a winters day, or picking fresh herbs from the garden – this attention to elemental comfort and joy shouldn’t be overlooked when sharing your brand story.

Go Beyond the Wall

Hotels are usually an afterthought when it comes to travelers making their next destination decision. Pay homage to this fact and take your camera out beyond the borders of your own hotel space.

Showcasing local attractions, the breathtaking beaches, the color of the water around the harbor, the local neighborhood on a Sunday morning – all these things help to paint a picture of place, making your hotel seem in the thick of it and giving relevant and helpful visual information to your guests.

Not only do you get to add to your visual content vault, but your guests will also engage much better with your brand if you aren’t solely focusing on your own business.

Nurture UGC at Every Turn

User generated content can be the holy grail of a savvy marketing plan and the power of peer to peer messaging should never be underestimated. The trick for hotels is to encourage their guests to share their own holiday snaps on Instagram with the hotel hashtag.

A great way of encouraging people to share online is to offer selfie sticks at designated spots for guests to try.

You can get creative with this idea; the Hotel 1888 in Sydney has a stunning selfie space in their lobby and the Wave House in Mallorca has a selfie mirror with a mustache drawn on just for fun.

Higher end hotels can have a member of staff take pictures of guests enjoying the hotel facilities and share in real time. Another effective idea is to hold a photo contest via the Instagram platform.

The Four Seasons are a good example of how to hold a fast and effective photo competition for ease of engagement. Every week they ask their guests to share their Four Seasons morning snaps with the tags #fourseasons and #wakeupwithfs.

Seeing their images shared and being rewarded for sharing is a wonderful incentive for guests and helps to boost user engagement and reach.

Hold a hotel challenge and have your guests participate and post the proof online; whether its drinking a certain killer cocktail or plunging in for a midnight swim – creative contests and photo proof are perfect shareworthy fodder for social media.

Make your Staff Celebrities

Boutique is big right now and part of the travel trend is that people want warmer, more intimate experiences when stepping out the door. You can use your Instagram platform to create this – by putting names to faces.

Guests will be delighted by stepping inside the lobby and seeing a cast who they have already connected with.

This is where behind the scenes snaps come in handy; the chef prepping the new menu, the concierge surfing before her shift, the housekeeping staff enjoying sunset drinks.

Encouraging your staff to be part of the Instagram feed delivers that boutique vibe and adds character and personality to your brand.

More Than a Photo

Even though visual is the mainstay of Instagram, we rely on language via comments and hashtags for that all-important connection. Ensure that your comments and messaging features are activated, but remember to monitor carefully so you don’t miss a beat.

Hashtags are another essential piece of the Instagram puzzle. Not only do they help make your content more searchable, but they are also useful for adding links to blog posts and articles, and showcase your personality.

Buffer tells us that posts with 11 or more hashtags have the highest engagement, so feel free to be smart and sassy with your hashtags.

From perfect puns to trending words – hashtags up the ante when it comes to effective Instagram use that guests adore.

Hotels and Instagram go together like wine and cheese; as long as you use the platform to play on your brands personality, post beautiful relevant pictures, and keep engagement at the forefront of your mind – your guests are sure to be delighted.

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