iStock_000033277642_FullNothing makes me excited about a new hotel stay quite like a gallery of well-curated photos. I love imagining myself curled up in the plush bed or sinking into a lobby chair and discussing the next attraction with my travel buddies.

You can encourage guests to daydream about a hotel stay by joining Instagram, a valuable tool for building online brand identity that is home to more than 300 million users waiting to discover the hotel stay they never knew they needed.

Many of the same marketing principles you’re using on your other social media platforms—know your audience, create engaging content, be authentic—apply to Instagram. Once your business account is setup with all the necessities (don’t skimp on that biography!), follow these tips to get started:

Embrace Hashtags

Start with obvious choices that focus on your brand, such as your actual name and the item you’re promoting (#hotels, #hotelrooms, #getaway, etc), but don’t be afraid to branch out. During a recent Instagram management project for FRHI Hotels & Resorts, EVG used both general brand names (#swissotel, #fairmont) as well as location-specific hashtags for the individual hotels (#rafflesperth, #fairmontSF).

Then incorporate general tags that are relevant to your photos: a picture of guests drinking in the lobby bar could warrant #craftbeer, #happyhour or #cocktails. This is where you’ll pull in traffic from users browsing general topics. Feel free to jump onto trending hashtags, too, but only if they’re relevant to your message.

Finally, get creative. From #sundayfunday and #givemeallthebacon on a brunch photo to #SPF5000 and #sliceofheaven on a beach image, hashtags are an avenue for humorous or ironic additions to enhance your message.

Start a Conversation

You have traffic following your profile and liking your photos—now get them talking! You can ask questions about your brand amenities, such as the must-have option from the pillow menu or favorite breakfast bar item. Post a collage of four hotel pools and ask which one is their favorite, or host a generic, “If you could stay in any of our hotels, which one would you choose?”

If your budget allows, design an Instagram contest or giveaway with prizes. Winners may be chosen from those who respond to a certain post or who publish their own images and use your special contest hashtag.

Don’t forget to browse your follower’s profiles from time to time to comment on and like their photos. Interactive social media accounts lend a feeling of realness and give your brand a more personable appeal.

Post People

Keep that relatable theme going by posting people. Literally. Whether it’s a humorous capture of hotel staff’s Halloween costume contest or your CEO snacking her favorite scone, use Instagram like an open door to let followers see who runs your business.

Also use your followers as a source for content (properly asked for permission and thanked in your re-post, of course). One of my favorite Instagram tips comes from Wishpond’s Krista Bunskoek: “Make your followers famous.” Say “thanks” to your customers by re-posting the brilliant images they take of your hotels, or publish a screenshot of the praise they leave on a review website.

Don’t forget to follow the Instagram for Business blog to stay in-the-know and review useful, real examples of successful businesses on this important online platform.

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Harvin BedenbaughContent Writer

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