If you’ve logged onto Instagram at any point in the last couple of years, you’ve probably noticed your favorite actor, singer or another celebrity making posts with hashtags such as “ad” or “sponsored.” With so many followers watching what they do, these people become influencers, inspiring others to buy the products they use just by showing the world that they use them. Often, companies collaborate with these celebrities or Insta-famous individuals to get them to showcase their offerings, too.
As it turns out, this type of social media marketing can be a super useful marketing technique for hotels. Influencers come in and document their stay on their feeds, which their thousands or millions of followers see — and want to replicate. It’s so effective that 75% of advertisers already use influencer marketing. Now, it’s your turn. Here are eight tips for making it work for you.
1. Start With a Goal
You can’t bring an influencer in to meet your marketing goals if you don’t know what those objectives are. So, spend some time defining what you hope to achieve with the help of an influencer. Do you want more traffic on your website or more Instagram followers of your own? Chances are, you would like to see a boost in bookings, too.
2. Know When to Bring Them In
According to Lodging magazine, more than two-thirds of the trip-planning process is dreaming up and planning the getaway. So, you don’t want to bring an influencer in during your hotel’s peak times — that’s when you want to inspire your customers to visit. Instead, bring in the influencer at the tail end of the season to motivate guests to look into your hotel next season. Or, invite influencers ahead of your busiest season to push for last-minute bookings.
3. Choose “Room off” Nights
Again, you don’t want to bring an influencer into your hotel during busy times — their free stay will affect your hotel’s returns. Instead, bringing them in during the offseason when there will be empty rooms makes the most financial sense. It’s even better to use a “room off” allocation so your hotel’s stats will remain unaffected. Indeed, this is a marketing venture and shouldn’t count toward hotel management’s key performance indicators. Avoid any potential conflicts by designating influencer stays as “room off” nights.
4. Select the Right Influencer
You can’t select an influencer at random to come in and make marketing magic for your hotel. As it turns out, some highly followed people on Instagram have weary followers. Perhaps the influencer posts a lot of branded content already — having them sharing your hotel will not make an impression.
Instead, seek out mid-level influencers with engaged audiences who comment on their posts. Their followers have a social media relationship with them and see their posts as authentic. Therefore, the influencer touting your hotel would ring as a genuine endorsement, not one made just for cash.
5. Update Your Social Media Presence
The influencer you bring into your hotel will surely link to your social media pages when posting about your hotel. As such, you want to make sure potential guests who click through will continue to be impressed by your offerings. Ensure your Instagram page has attractive photos of your lodging, food and any activities on site. Also, update your bio to include a link to your website’s most impressive pages. All of this will serve to further influence Instagram users to book with you.
6. Encourage More Influential Pics
Influencers with an engaged audience likely know how to take a good picture already — they know what their followers want to see. Still, for the sake of your business, it’s a good idea to outline the types of images you expect to see them post.
For instance, a selfie of the influencer will do little to flaunt their hotel stay. Instead, encourage them to get creative with the shots they take. Offer to snap pictures for them so that they have a more candid, authentic look. To that end, if the influencer brings along a friend or family member, group photos will do well to promote your property, too. Ask them not to inundate their feeds with pictures of your hotel, either. Too many shots, and it will start to feel like an ad campaign instead of an Instagram post.
7. Engage in Conversation
If you’ve chosen the right kind of influencer, their followers will comment on the pictures they post of your hotel. Be sure to stay on top of these comments and respond to any inquiries about the property. These conversations are what you hired the influencer for, after all — your engagement and responses could inspire people to stay with you, too.
Indeed, you should take a page from an influencer’s book in this area. Always respond to social media comments and engage with followers, especially post-influencer stay. The new people who have followed you will want to get to know you and what you have to offer, since a trusted source says it’s worthy of their time.
8. Maintain the Relationship
You’ve connected to the right influencer(s) and welcomed them into your accommodation, but the work doesn’t stop there. Track click-through rates to see how many eyes you’ve gotten on your site. Add a box on the booking form to see how future guests heard about your hotel — they will give you the influencer’s name if that’s how they learned about your hotel.
If you notice a boost in traffic and visitors because of an influencer, you can build a relationship with that person in the future. Recall marketing can serve you well — maybe the influencer wants to come back next year for another getaway? This relationship could benefit you both.
And, in the end, that’s what it’s all about — boosting your hotel’s standing with the help of a willing, fitting influencer. Take your time, find the right person and see what happens next. It could elevate your business to new heights, as it has done for many others.