What do you post when you don't know what to post? This article gives you some insight into how hotels, motels, resorts and B&Bs can use Instagram to their advantage.
SCENERY & ARCHITECTURE
People love to look at pretty things. If you’ve got a great looking building, or some nice scenery, people want to see it. As superficial as it might be, Instagram is all about judging a book by its cover. People want their feed filled with pretty stuff, cute stuff and fun stuff. If you haven’t posted on Instagram for a while, consider just talking a walk around the hotel and finding some nice-looking shots to put up.
They don’t have to be blow-away. Even stuff like a graffitied wall, a chainlink fence or the sunrise over your carpark show off the character of your hotel. If guests are considering booking your hotel, they appreciate seeing shots of the more interesting aspects of your location.
Anything you can find that you think adds character to your hotel, even if it’s not directly on your property, is a great way to fill in the gaps on your Instagram account and show off a more personal and interesting side.
- Water features around your hotel
- Forests, wooded areas, open fields
- Busy streets
- Street entertainers
- Popular cafes, bars or shops
Think about locations that may draw guests to your hotel, although which need not be in your immediate vicinity. Tourist hotspots and local landmarks help to give your potential guests an idea of your location, and the kinds of things they'll be able to do in your area.
- Natural tourist features (beaches, mountains, forests)
- Local marketplaces
- Theme parks
- Museums and art galleries
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If you have a great restaurant, think about putting up the occasional photo of new dishes or specials. They don’t have to be professional shots, but they do have to be look good. A shot of a half-eaten pie and chips really won’t work here. That’s not to say you can’t get away with putting up shots of typical pub food, if that’s what your restaurant does, but just make sure it looks good.
Spend some time on Instagram looking at the food shots of regular users, and even other cafe’s and hotels, to get an idea of how to shoot food for Instagram. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to look somewhat appetizing.
- The latest dishes
- Breakfast items
- Specials you currently offer
The ultimate crowd-pleaser on Instagram will have people in it. People like to see other people, especially if they're having fun or (shock-horror!) extremely attractive. But even if they don't fit into the latter category, that's what Instagram photo filters are for, right?
If you have a more personal approach with your guests, you may even consider asking guests if they’d like to be in a photo for your Instagram account. This is a tricky one, as you’ll have to choose wisely. Not everyone will want to be approached with this kind of request. As a hotel manager you’ll usually have enough experience with people to figure out who would be receptive to a happy snap. Usually families with kids are the kind of people to go for, rather than lone travelers or couples who are clearly on some kind of romantic getaway.
The best way to take photos of guests is when they’re actually doing something fun. If they’re playing at the pool or on your mini golf course, you’re far more likely to get a great shot. You’re also far more likely to get them to agree to having their photo taken than if they were laying back sun tanning.
Having said that, taking photos off to the side of a full beer garden or a crowded pool can absolutely still work if the photo isn't particularly focused on any one individual. It's up to you to use your best judgement when taking these voyeur-style photos.
Make sure you also get the Instagram handles of the subjects of the photos so you can tag them in the photo when you upload it. The easiest way to do this is actually to just upload the photo as soon as you’ve shown them so you can tag them in it immediately.
Aside from guests, your staff in action is a great thing to be posting on Instagram. When guests see your staff working, happy and smiling, and interacting with guests, they feel much more connected to your hotel, even if they haven’t booked it yet.
Instagram doesn't have to (and shouldn't) be all about perfect scenery or perfect food. Sometimes the most powerful stuff on Instagram is just funny, cute, interesting or weird. You'll come across plenty of posts from hotels and resorts who've decided not to take their Instagram page too seriously. Funny quotes, interesting characters (people or animals), weird weather or just something completely different can all work on Instagram.
If you run the kind of hotel that is known for friendliness, fun and relaxation, these fun posts can help boost your Instagram following without too much work.
BEG, BORROW & STEAL
The astute amongst you may have noticed that some of the Instagram shots I just showed didn’t look like they’d be taken directly by a hotel. And you’d be right. In fact, a lot of hotels like to use Instagram to curate other people's photos, and repost them to their own Instagram page. You may notice 'RP' or 'RG', meaning repost or regram, or even just a camera icon to indicate the original poster. These are the photos that somebody else took, but which the hotel liked so much to show on their own Instagram page.
In this way, you actually don’t really need to be out and about with a camera at all. You can simply repost other people’s photos, give them a quick shout out (using their @username), and add your own hashtags.
Reposting or Regramming isn’t officially supported by Instagram. In other words, it’s not as easy as “retweeting” something on Twitter. You’ll need to get a separate app to do it, or if you want to do it the old fashioned way, take a screenshot of someone else’s Instagram page, crop it down and post it to your own.
The app we use to repost from other Instagram accounts is called 'Repost', creatively enough. There are many apps around like this, although this is the one I've come to know and would recommend. It's free although you can pay a few bucks to grab some extra features. Check it out here.
FINDING THE PHOTOS TO REPOST
Instagram has three ways to find photos taken at your hotel. The first way is with hashtags (called 'Tags' in Instagram search). The second way is with their location feature (called 'Places'). The third way is getting tagged in a photo (called 'People').
With hashtags, often guests will simply spell out your hotel, unless you've specifically indicated on your Instagram bio that you a tracking a particular hashtag. So, Your Awesome Hotel may end up being given the hashtag #yourawesomehotel by default, just because this is the most sensible hashtag for a guest to use.
Also, a guest may tag their photo with your hotel's location. The locations come from Facebook's enormous database, so if you're on Facebook, you'll appear in the location tagger. If you do a search in the Instagram app under 'Places' for your location, you'll bring up all the photos that people have taken at your location and tagged as such.
Sometimes you may also find that guests will tag you directly, especially if they know you have an account. These photos appear under the 'Photos of you' tab in Instagram. Guests may also simply 'mention' you in their post, which is Instagram's term for adding an '@username' to a comment.
If you're looking for photos of your hotel to repost, start with hashtags, and check out your location to find other photos that may have just been taken there with no tags or mentions at all.
Whenever you repost a photo, you should always mention the original poster in the comments. You obviously aren't required to, but it's just good manners. It also allows them to comment on the newly reposted photo and tag their friends, creating more buzz around your account.
This article could go on forever, and it may be expanded in the future, but hopefully it gives you a good grounding in the kinds of images that should be on Instagram.
The most important thing you should takeaway is that Instagram photography doesn't have to be perfect. You don't have to be a professional photographer, or have a DSLR. In fact, the more natural and 'off-the-cuff' your photos are on Instagram, the better they tend to do in terms of engagement.
Nick’s background is with visual media, most notably photography and graphic design. His experience with composition, colouring and storytelling led him to his latest role at Raving Digital. He also dabbles with recording music, so he understands how important audio is in any video.
He’s worked at everything from checkout chick to business analyst to pizza chef, but somehow his loyalty lies with telling great stories with brilliant visuals and even brilliant-er sound.
As the director of photography, he’s often behind a camera, but then he’s also back in the studio splitting hairs over the amount of green in the shadows or the stereo spread of the room tone.