This write up is aimed at helping website owners understand the benefit of online marketing using Instagram, and how it can drive sales revenue. A medium still not embarrassed by many, Instagram has the potential of increasing brand recognition substantially.
Also outlined are the success stories who have successfully implemented Instagram marketing to drive sales at their Travel websites or Hotels.
Hoteliers today face some of the toughest and most challenging times, more than ever before. The on-going battle with third party intermediaries for the share of the wallet and staying top of mind with consumers when there is a plethora of options available to them is what hoteliers dread to face everyday. ‘Choice’ is great for consumers but it is a double-edged sword for hoteliers.
So what do hotel professionals need to do to stay at the top of the game? The realisation has dawned on hotel operators that to compete in this highly competitive market they need to carve out a budget for their digital marketing and social media needs.
This is in an effort to mitigate the marketing might of online travel agencies such as Bookings.com, Expedia and the hotel industry disruptor, Airbnb. With their massive spending on marketing campaigns, they are able to cream off customers by diverting them to their sites and charging hotels commissions for client referrals.
There is no denying the growing need for news consumption. With the overwhelming amount of content available online, we’ve become addicted to the latest offering, the must-have product, and the must-see location, ‘be there or be square’ mentality made popular by digital whizzes.
Whilst the major hotel brands may have the budget to compete with third party online intermediaries, small to mid sized hotels will either need to get on board with social media or for those who already have presence, mobilise their efforts to ramp up their social media activities.
Instagram is one such social media tool where you can leverage on better understanding your target audience, keeping track of what is going on with your business and any upcoming trends that you need to be aware of.
Currently having over 600 millon1 active monthly users and more than 80 million photos are uploaded on a daily basis, Hotels should be exploiting the use of Instagram to promote their properties and to connect with guests. Failure to exploit this channel means you are literally driving your customers away to the hotels that are maximising this social media platform.
Instagram is a fantastic resource for guests to tap into, underpinning the notion of where to vacation, accommodation, type of activities, places to visit and eat. It is becoming an important channel for influencing customer choice.
Here are some growth hacking tips to take your hotel’s Instagram up several notches, increase the number of your followers and drive direct bookings:-
- Posting images on Instagram
Instagram recently updated their algorithm to focus on engaging content. So go beyond reposting images and engage with your guests by creating content on the Instagram feeds.
For example, The Embassy Row Hotel in Washington DC posted an image about planting basil plant on their rooftop garden. This gives the impression that their food is cooked with home-grown herbs and would have a high appeal amongst foodie lovers looking for home-cooked meals.
- Run a competition new page
Run a contest by creating a hashtag that guests can easily click with. Loews Hotel used this in their Instagram campaign strategy and created the hashtag “#TravelForReal” 3. They persuaded their guest to use the hashtag when staying at their hotel. User-generated content revealed 5,195 posts using that hashtag have been collected to date.
- Use of Hashtags
If you are stuck for ideas, you can follow Hashtagify.me4, a social media listening tool which will tell you what’s trending on the topics that is important to you and will also provide information as to top influencers within your area of business.
- Geotagging the images
Whenever guests post photos of your property, encourage them to geotagged the post. A prominent sign at the reception at the point of checking in helps to remind guests to geotagged you when they are taking photos during their stay with you. Geotagged posts receive as much as 79% higher engagements.
Use Video content to engage with your followers. In fact, parent company, Facebook’s algorithm has given preference to video content and it has been reported that video views on Instagram has increased by 40%. So engage a videographer if you lack the skills to create film-quality video content. If you do have the budget, then invest in creating a strategy for Instagram video.
- Growing your Fanbase
Grow your fanbase organically. It will take time to gain followers (those that follow you), but if you are consistent in posting regular high quality images, adding relevant hashtags and original content that engages your audience, then your efforts will be rewarded. The first step would be to build a content plan and library of images so that you are seen as an active contributor. Never pay for followers!
- Follow your competitors
Find relevant competitors’ Instagram accounts and follow their followers. Choose the keywords that are similar to your Instagram handle and look for their new followers. You will need to determine when they are active so that you can post your content around that time. This is a good way to utilise the newsfeed algorithm at the same time. Instagram supporters will follow you and are a very supportive community.
- Understanding your target audience
You can build a specific profile of what your audience looks like by studying their bios when they tag the hotel to their Instagram images. These customers could well be potential influencers that you want to cultivate a relationship and work together with in the future. You can create an effective Instagram campaign by studying what their interests and experiences are and design it accordingly.
- Keep active with Instagram postings
Post Instagram content regularly to keep your followers interested. This will lead to more shares and has the ability to reach a much wider audience that will convert to followers in the long run.
You can respond to followers by automating your Instagram messages via bots such as Instazood5 and Holr6. Both will help to send automated direct messages to new and current followers including specific followers that don’t follow you in order to extend your reach
- Post local events in your locality
Posting about your hotel can only go so far. However you can create some excitement by promoting events in your locality. This can lure customers looking to experience the city and may be encouraged to book your hotel to stay.
Creating a special hashtag to reach people who are planning to attend a specific event is another way to reach these potential customers especially if they are looking for accommodation.
The growth hacking tips are designed to help not only for 5 star hotels, but even smaller and more niche establishments such as guest houses and service apartments can use these tips to bolster online presence and achieve brand trust. Hoteliers will be able to reach a far wider audience than adopting the usual marketing ploys and this in turn will help to increase direct bookings.
While a Hotel’s Instagram campaigns may help to engage with current and attract potential guests; it should not be wholly reliant on this medium. To grow a loyal band of guests, it is the delivery of hospitality excellence that will keep these customers coming back to stay time and time again.
Source: 2 http://hashtagify.me
Source: 3 https://www.inc.com/joseph-steinberg/instagram-secretly-made-a-huge-change-and-its-not-its-logo.html
Source: 4 https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/travelforreal
Source 5 https://instazood.com
Source 6 https://holr.co