The Instagram Effect: How Social Media Impacts Hotels
Hotels have long used social media to boost their brand, reach millions of people and establish loyalty. We often hear about the effects this has on consumers, but what about in the other direction: how social media impacts hotels? It may seem insignificant, but the way consumers interact with hotels on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest influences how those hotels conduct their marketing, design, operations, customer service and more. Here are five ways that occurs.
Social media-friendly design
Chronicling your travels digitally and getting that perfect Instagram shot have become ever so important as visual-heavy social media platforms continue to dominate. Hotels have begun taking this into account when designing their spaces, from making sure rooms have good lighting to including Insta-worthy elements begging to be photographed, like neon signs and indoor plants. By doing so, hotels receive free marketing from guests who share photos and videos of the hotel on their social media accounts.
With paid advertisements flooding users’ social media feeds, authenticity has become paramount and a valuable tool in the realm of online marketing. That’s why so many hotels are partnering with influencers —everyday individuals with a large, active social media following in a particular niche.
In exchange for a complimentary or discounted stay, influencers will share content promoting a hotel on their social media account(s) and/or website. The content is created by the influencers themselves, adding an air of authenticity. Most influencers will only work with hotels they personally approve of, so although the relationship has a monetary element, it’s still genuine.
Handles and hashtags everywhere
You’re probably used to seeing social media handles and hashtags online, e.g. “Follow us @qandahotel and use hashtag #stayinventive!” As these items have become more commonplace and readily recognized, they’ve extended beyond the hotel’s website and made their way onto hotel signage, stationary, emails, apps, etc.
For instance, Q&A Hotel places a chalkboard in each room bearing the hashtag #QandAHotel, which reinforces the brand and encourages guests to mention it on social media. There’s no need for an overt call to action — a handle or hashtag on its own is enough to create an impact.
A focus on experiences
Why do millennials love travel so much? It can be largely attributed to their preference for experiences over material possessions. They’d rather take a trip to Croatia than buy a diamond ring, a car or even a house. When millennials travel, that fondness for experiences doesn’t go away, and hotels are catching on. They’re branding themselves as “lifestyle hotels” and providing unique amenities like food halls, fitness classes, guest events and more. Guests love sharing these experiences with friends, family and the world on Instagram Stories and other social media channels, offering even more organic marketing for the hotel.
Use of social media as a customer service tool
Gone are the days when phone and email were the only ways of contacting a hotel. Nowadays, it’s not unusual for individuals to send messages to a hotel’s official Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account. Platforms like Facebook even publically display a hotel’s average response time to messages, creating incentive for hotels to respond to customer inquiries quickly. The use of social media in this way has made it less of an optional tool for brands and more of a necessity.