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How Hotels can Use Instagram for Online Marketing- 5 Key Principles

Author: Michael Jones
He specializes in helping students with social media branding, marketing strategy and content creation. - See more at: Online Marketing Courses
Michael Jones
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Instagram has taken the photo-sharing world by storm. This visual platform is perfect for hotels to establish their brand identity and show potential/current guests their rooms, restaurant and local views.

Instagram allows a more strategic approach to getting the word out without the use of any big flashy signs or relying solely on third party booking sites.

Now, with the use of Instagram video (60 seconds!!!!) hotels are given the chance to tell a story that connects to its visitors which increases bookings and keeps returning guest loyal to your brand.

Follow these steps to use Instagram effectively for your hotel’s Online Marketing

The main objective of any social media strategy is to either get website clicks, page post engagement or website conversions. The best way to do this is to appeal to the audience senses.

Humans, by nature, tend to learn visually. So, enticing the eye with visual storytelling is a strategic way for hotels to be noticed and get booked!

A great place to start when developing an Instagram marketing strategy is to look at what your competition is doing.

A little “Social Spying” never hurt anyone.

What photos is the competition posting? Are they posting more photos of their rooms, events, or facilities? What time are they posting at? Which images seem to get the most engagement (likes, comments).

Hotel images need to be professionally produced with the utmost quality. Make your images into digital artwork that appeals to the senses.

hotels using instagram for marketing
I don’t know about you. But, I want to check in and order room service right now! High-quality images such as this one tell a story of the guest who is enjoying their stay and room service at the W Dallas Hotel.

This post gives a creative edge to the room. It doesn’t go for the usual, “Look at the view.”

This visually appeals to the senses. You want to know how comfortable is that bed? What does the pancake breakfast taste like? How does that beautiful floral arrangement smell?

lunch near at the poolside dallas

Let’s take a look at another post from W Dallas Hotel. This photo highlights the delectable looking salad from the W restaurant, a thirst quenching smoothie and who doesn’t love a pool.

It also presents a call to action to check out their Saturday event, Cardio & Cocktails by clicking on the link in the bio. I think someone will be purchasing a ticket and eating salad poolside, shortly.

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What goes on behind the scenes?

A video posted by W Dallas – Victory (@wdallashotel) on

With the use of Instagram video W Dallas Hotel featured their Executive Chef in action, whipping up Dragon’s breath for an event. When presenting the behind the scenes of an event. A good rule of thumb is to show the person who’s making the food and/or drinks.

This really helps to develop the know, like and trust factor with the hotel. It also looks really cool to see how something like this is made which turns this into a highly engaging and shareable post.

Make them want to book

sofitel so hotel room
Think of Instagram as a hotel photo gallery. Show off your amenities, but don’t go in for the hard sale. This post from Sofitel So Bangkok shows a nice balance of “show-off” and sale.

live jazz music

Yes, the post is telling you to take action but the usage of the word “Enjoy” makes it more of a “pleasant” buying experience for the customer.

KEEP YOUR CONTENT FRESH & ENTERTAINING!!! Don’t just stick to showing off your rooms. Show us the vibrant life and feel of your hotel. This is what makes potential customers click on the link in the bio and book an experience at your hotel!

Now…Let’s talk about the Don’ts of Instagram


Not using hashtags

Some think of them as a visual annoyance. But there is power in these much-searched keywords. Believe it or not, there are droves of people who follow certain keyword phrases. Especially, in the hospitality and travel industry.

Do some research on which hashtags are relevant to your property and it’s personality so you don’t attract the wrong kinds of traffic to your Instagram account.

A great site to find relevant hashtags for Instagram and other social media platforms is http://hashtagify.me/. Simply, type in which tags you’re looking for (ie: Hotels) and hastagify me will find the top 10 hashtags related to your searched word.

Missing this crucial piece in your Instagram marketing campaign can really hinder your engagement and reach amongst Instagram users.

hashtagify top 10 webdesign hashtags


Not responding to your audience

This is a HUGE mistake. I’ve not only seen missed interactions on Instagram but on many other platforms too. Hello…it’s not called Social Media for nothing.

If a comment is positive or negative, always try to respond in a timely, professional and friendly manner. Engage your following as if you’re having a personal conversation with an old friend.

And please no generic, copy and paste responses. We all know them and can feel an in genuine response a mile away.

Don’t over post

social sharing schedule
Source: KISSmetrics blog

Don’t post more than 1-3 times a day. It’s perfectly fine to spread out posts over time…even if it’s from an event that already took place. You don’t want to irritate your following by showing every second of a special event or posting too many pictures of your rooms.

How do I know if I’m running a successful campaign?

So you’re probably wondering. How do I track my Instagram marketing?

Here are a few tools I keep in my Instagram tool belt:

Iconosquare: I use this to find out the top performing images based on comments & likes.

Bit.ly: This URL shortener allows you to keep track of how many people have click on the link in the Instagram bio.

Simply Measured: This social analytics platform tells you when is the best time to post your content

But, the easiest way to tell is by looking at your likes, comments and followers. Likes, comments and growth in your following, of course, show if your fans are enjoying the content.
Telling appealing stories with alluring visuals, captions and video are essential for an effective Instagram marketing campaign.

This platform is a great way to reach guests (current/potential) on a personal level and give your property a little personality with it’s online branding.

The Social Skinny

Here is a quick rundown on creating a successful Instagram campaign.

  • A picture is worth a thousand words. Use alluring, professional grade images and video that showcase an experience at your hotel!
  • Make sure to use hashtags that are relevant to your hotel and it’s brand. You can find such hashtags using http://hashtagify.me/.
  • Tell me a story with engaging captions. Ask questions, give information and create a call to action.
  • Don’t ignore your audience.
  • Stay away from over posting (no need to fill up your followers feed). 1-3 posts per day are enough to keep attention but not to irritate.

Does your property use Instagram? Which visuals get the most engagement? Instagram allows you to create a brand identity with a more strategic approach to gain a loyal follower base.

Do you still struggle to set up for your own campaign or need some feedback on your existing ones? Then the social media workshop will help you to give you the right answers for your questions!

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