Oursin, Paris created by designer Jacquemus & CaviarKaspa
I confess. I am addicted to Instagram.
I am not the kind who snaps up this morning’s brunch or posts a « cute » picture of myself in a new outfit BUT I do enjoy discovering new places, new styles, new trends while surfing on the popular photo app.
Let it be known that for me, browsing through Instagram posts or postcards as I call them, is like looking out of a window into the world and receiving postcards from abroad. Image after image, you discover, you explore, you learn. There are those “unforgettable moments” snapshots, those innovative ones and the silly ones too and with all social media has to offer it is not surprising we can’t put our phones down.
The Instagram bug is not only limited to individuals as hotels and eateries are now jumping on to the bandwagon such as the Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour hotel located in Sydney who lets those with more than 10.000 instagram followers stay at their rooms for free.
For these businesses instagram is more than a social network. It’s an extremely powerful marketing tool which provides an extremely attractive level of exposure. The photo based social media platform has enormous benefits for the industry. It offers easy access to literally thousands and thousands of photos, videos and blogs about any given destination. Via their accounts and hashtags, businesses promote their concepts and viewers can connect with these locations.
Studies have proven that millennials are proven to be loyal to the brands they have grown to know and love through social media. They often prefer to pay more than for an instagrammable hotel or eatery rather than a cheaper alternative.
But to become a coveted « instagrammable » location, one has to provide visually impactful content, and to do so, painstaking measures are sometimes taken on site. Hotels are more and more carefully decorated and designed to provide maximum photogenic visibility and make them more appealing to the eye. Monumental artwork placed in the entrance hall, colorfully designed wallpaper in the rooms, a backdrop of lush flowers in the bar, impeccable table dressing or drop dead gorgeous scenery spots marked as a trail to follow on the property, all contribute to attract attention and encourage the visitor to take a snapshot. The breathtaking or unusual decor becomes the landmark of the business.
Restaurants and other eateries have also picked up on this trend and as a result there is a new wave of « insta-friendly » restaurants launching around the globe. Each element of these restaurants has been carefully crafted; from the decor and lighting to the way food is presented, all with the sole intention of customers posting photos on Instagram
Each of the posts from these business accounts, provides a stunning visual with a story to tell. Some of the snapshots not only advertise the hotel or restaurant but also share the wonderful experience of the client while staying there which gives an all important validation that their guests made a great choice.
To illustrate this I’ve picked out a few places that have successfully leveraged instagram in a smart way. The So Sofitel in Berlin, Astrate Suites on the island of Santorini or the Cosby Hotel in NYC are part of the successful examples of such an instagrammable drive thus motivating guests and potential clients to follow.
However, as it is with many things in life, for every good side, there comes a negative side. With some influencers boasting millions of followers, partnerships between them and hotels can be worthwhile in terms of publicity but as demands from Instagrammers on all scales increase, collaborations such as these have come under fire. Some hotels report being overwhelmed by influencer requests. In January 2017,a luxury boutique hotel in Ireland made headlines for banning all YouTubers and Instagram stars after a 22-year-old requested a free five-night stay in exchange for exposure.
Instagram has ballooned to over 800 million monthly active users, many of whom come to it for travel ideas, and influencers agree that the promotions they offer allow hotels to directly market to new audiences in an authentic way. Hotels are still trying to figure out the return on working with influencers. Most hotels acknowledge that there’s some benefit to working with influencers; it’s just that determine how to work with them – and manage their requests – is a challenge.
One essential goal in Hospitality is to attract returning clients. Guests may come once or twice, but then they’ll move on to something more innovative. Sure enough the instagrammable decor is no longer enough to lure guests therefore businesses have to appeal to all senses.
“The devil is in the detail” as the expression goes. Guests will remember a comfortable duvet, a thick towel soft to the touch, a delicious cocktail, the smiling staff, a pleasant or enchanting scent…. Every little detail can be a memorable. They have to reach out on all levels to win a returning client.
Instagram snapshots can be a springboard to success for many businesses but when you are in it for the long haul, it’s only the first step in the right direction.
Influencer Alex Shannon, a 35 year-old from London, better known as @followthenap, who jet sets around the world to sleep in some of the most luxurious hotel suites money can buy…..