Let’s admit it, there is a huge difference between creating average content for Instagram and creating beautiful content for Instagram. Creating average content for Instagram is what the majority of hotels and people do – take your smartphone out, shoot and post. We’ve all done it, there is nothing wrong with it. This is how we create beautiful content for Instagram – take a piece of paper, write down a brief, brainstorm ideas, find a professional photographer or agency, post-production, plan the shoot, then go out and shoot, edit images, create interesting copy for pictures, and then post.
There is a ‘small’ difference between the two processes above, right? I don’t think I need to show you data that shows us why it’s important to create great quality content, or why you should be on Instagram in the first place, right?
Okay, really quickly – A survey found that a prospective hotel’s social media presence is important to millennials, with 73% saying they check the company’s social media feed before booking. In fact, 33% would be put off booking altogether if a hotel had no social media presence. That’s 73% of people saying they check it and subconsciously make their mind up about the hotel they either have a positive view of the hotel or a negative one. In a lot of cases, when a hotel’s content and aesthetics are not that great, it creates a negative perception.
I know, how can people be so superficial and judge somebody’s business by a couple of pictures? Well, what can I say, this is the world we live in.
If you are not on Instagram, well I can’t argue that. You are missing a huge opportunity and it just means one thing – the competition will gladly welcome guests that are looking for accommodation.
For those who have Instagram, and want to improve their content, let’s dive into the strategies;
- Social – Content Strategy
I can’t stress this one enough. Why do you want to post on social media? Why Instagram? We need to have a clear and comprehensive strategy about why are we on the platform. Is it direct bookings we want to achieve? Is it to inspire people? Is it to capture people’s attention while they are looking for a hotel? We need to have a clear purpose behind our posting. Most brands post on social media because they want more sales, but the problem with that is different guests are in different sales cycles. Not every single person on Instagram is interested in ‘free breakfast’.
As we can see below from Google, a potential traveller can be in his I-want-to-get-away-moment or he/she might be –let’s-book-it-moment, so social media strategy needs to identity what kind of guests we want to attract, then what kind of content we need to create to cover all aspects of the journey.
We need to remember that a hotel’s Instagram feed is just another touchpoint (out of 182 touchpoints) for potential guests to have a look while deciding whether or not to stay at your hotel. Let me repeat that, your Instagram feed is one touchpoint out of 182 touchpoints before making a decision to book.
There is a comScore study that dived into 2 million travellers research and booking behaviour, and learned that a hotel purchaser takes 89 days to book while visiting 34 websites. He reached 182 touchpoints before booking.
People might ask the following questions;
Is the hotel trendy?
Is it a great location?
Is it safe?
Is it clean?
Do they have a pool?
The big question you need to ask yourself is this; does your content/photography answer the above questions?
Have a look at the feed below from a hotel in London;
Speaks volumes, right? Let’s not get it twisted, this hotel might be great, clean rooms, comfy beds and so on, but for a person who never visited the hotel I’m thinking this is a very dirty, old and dated hotel. Last thing I want on my trip is a hotel from the 1980s – unless the hotel is targeting people who only care about price, I don’t know but I don’t think there are businesses out there that want Groupon clients.
2. Sell the emotion
This one is hard to comprehend because in marketing and business we’ve been taught that if you are selling shoes, you need to speak about shoes. If you are selling beds, you need to talk about accommodation. This is not the case. Years ago, if you had a product, you created an advert talking about the product and ran an advert on radio or TV, and you would get a percentage of people to buy.
In today’s fast-moving world, people don’t want to read or listen to ego-boosting adverts. We pay real money every month to avoid advertising, and to listen and watch content we want (Spotify & Netflix).
The solution is to create a story and talk about things other than hotel beds. Talk about a great new restaurant that opened recently, talk about causes that you truly care about. That’s why it’s important to include everything in your story.
3. Your Purpose
To talk about yoga or meditation, or any other topic, you need to have a reason why you are talking about that topic right? Well that’s where the story comes in. A great story helps you differentiate, create an emotional connection with your guests, and gives you ‘permission’ to talk about things you believe in.
What do I mean? Well look, a brand story is essentially about your values, what do you stand for? Why does your hotel exist? What change do you want to make? It’s not about when your hotel started operating, when it was founded and how great the founder is. It’s about values. You can watch a very interesting video from Steve Jobs explaining why marketing is all about values (below) – he explains how Apple and Nike communicate. If you look at how Nike advertises you will never see them speaking about why their shoes are better than Adidas, they speak about great athletes, they honour great athletes.
View this post on Instagram
Once you create your story, you can talk about the causes you are passionate about. For example, you might want to help people with their wellness, or to eat healthier, you can speak about that, you can host weekly events about wellbeing, you can write blogs about health. If you want to ignite people’s creativity, you can encourage people to be more creative, recommend books, suggest new documentaries, bring speakers. There are so many things you can do, you have a huge advantage because you have people coming to stay at your hotel, you have the space and you have unlimited creativity to create beautiful things.
Here’s an example of The Good Hotel in East London, it’s a floating hotel that has a deep purpose. They train locals that are unemployed, they buy only from local companies, and they build schools for children in Guatemala.
4. Beautiful & Meaningful Content
Once we have the foundation, we can create beautiful content. Without a strong foundation we can’t really go and create meaningful content. The reason why a lot of hotels don’t post on Instagram often, or spam people, is because they don’t have a strong foundation and by foundation, I mean a story, something to talk about. It’s another shot of the hotel from a different angle, and another post of the breakfast.
Even hotels that invest in great photography it’s repetitive, the room, some flowers on the bed, the chef, the front of the hotel, and then again post the same things from a lower angle.
Aesthetics matter, so now that you have your story, your purpose you can plan and create beautiful and meaningful content. The best thing to do is plan content for 30-60 days. Do one shoot, and use different posts, you can have posts about your story, posts about the hotel and create beautiful and pleasant aesthetics. When a potential guest visits your feed, he will be impressed because you share value with them, and there is depth in your content.
Have a look at the feed below, it speaks volumes, right? You want to be at that hotel, it’s definitely a very creative, beautiful hotel. It’s citizenM hotels Instagram feed. They do have an amazing product – their space is very creative, they have their own tone of voice, they use humour, and they don’t constantly brag about their breakfast. They have their product, they have educational posts; meaning they post things that you can learn about; art galleries, new coffee shop openings, events and other things. So, you will never get bored with their content.
Look at this post: you are expecting a latte, and then boom… A ‘classic’ post became a comedy post.
View this post on Instagram
Another great feed by Mama Shelter Hotel: very creative, fun, entertaining and relevant. Did you notice the post with the Dolly Parton meme? This shows they are relevant to what’s happening on social right now. In case you didn’t know what the meme is about, it’s about how people want to be perceived on different platforms; LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Tinder.
Look at the aesthetics of this hotel: absolutely beautiful feed. I want to sleep there. The captions also explain a lot of things about the hotel. They created a room full of flowers, called it the productivity room. The hotel is Locke Living, I actually interviewed one of the founders, Eric Jafari about how creativity can help your bottom line, you can listen to the episode here.
Another great feed by a new hotel called inhabit hotel, a new wellness focused design hotel in London. Again, they don’t talk (a lot) about their rooms, about free breakfast and free wifi. They talk about wellness, how to make a great juice in the morning, how to meditate. Now, the fun part is when they are trying to sell the benefits of the hotel, they have a doggo do it for them! The cute doggo that you see is promoting their mattresses, they explain why their mattresses are different and the benefits of them.
Let’s have a look at another feed, this is The Hoxton Hotel. Very elegant, we can see they have in their rooms, a creative element (the bike), local activities to do and you can feel professionalism. They don’t have a lot of graphic design in their feed, mostly a particular type of photography, but it makes you want to stay at their hotel.
Do you see the difference between the first hotel and the other feeds? Huge difference, you might ask yourself what do they all charge per night? Well I searched on their website a price for one night on the 05th of May 2020 to compare their ADR (average daily rate).
Here are the results:
Bad Instagram Hotel: £123.75
citizenM Tower Hill: £204
Mama Shelter: £95.17
Locke Living (Leman Locke): £163.20
Inhabit Hotel: £110
The Hoxton Shoreditch: £190
The Good Hotel: £79
It’s interesting because the ‘Bad Instagram Hotel’ is a ‘Bad Website Hotel’ as well. They were the only hotel among all of them that had an outdated design, look, and feel when I searched for a night to stay. It felt like Windows 95 design, if you know what I mean? The buttons are old, the UX is very outdated but that’s another topic. The good thing is they are consistent everywhere.
So, there is not much of a difference in prices and people, mostly younger people don’t mind paying more to stay in a hotel that is different, that has a story and that they can snap a picture for their Instagram feeds. So, for the outdated hotel, I personally wouldn’t pay more than £60 per night, based on what I saw. I would happily pay £95 for Mama Shelter which is cheaper than the other hotel! Can you believe it? Even the Inhabit hotel is cheaper than them!
So, there you have it, we just looked at six hotels out of 1,500 hotels in London! The data proves that a great Instagram feed inspires people to book with them, it encourages loyalty, and of course it encourages word of mouth and shareability. Why shareability you might ask? Well 76% of travellers post pictures of their trip on Instagram, why not one of those pictures be your hotel?
I hope that these tips are valuable to your hotel and you start building a great Instagram feed for your hotel. I’m curious to read to your comments about what your thoughts are about this. Comment below and let me know.
In the meantime, if you enjoyed this article, please do share it with a colleague of yours.