Every single day I hear someone tell me they aren’t using Instagram for their vacation rental business…yet.
Y’all!!! Instagram is PERFECT for vacation rentals (that means you).
It’s time to move “Setup Instagram” to the top of your to-do list.
Read on to get the rundown on how to set up an account, things to do before you start, how to build engagement and learn what the heck is the deal with hashtags.
Look, 80% of all the people on Instagram are looking for travel inspiration – and you can be there, inspiring them with photos and videos of the places they want to visit, the food they want to eat, the fun they want to have, the sunrises they want to see and the relaxation they want to feel.
As I write this today, there are more than 1,027,956 posts with the #travelinspiration hashtag.
With more than 2,367,715 images for #airbnb and more than 700,000 using some combination of the term #vacationrental or #vacationhome, you can see that many others are using Instagram to market their properties as well as find a vacation rental in their destination of choice.
Continue reading and learn how to get in front of future guests, connect with them, inspire them to dream of your location and move them from followers to friends to guests with these Instagram marketing tips for your travel and tourism business.
7 Tips To Use Instagram Marketing For Vacation Rental Owners
Tip # 1. Create a business Instagram account
When you start out with an Instagram account or start over with your new, Insta-magazine, the first thing you want to do is create a business profile.
There are several reasons for using Instagram for business rather than a personal account:
- A business account gives you more insights into your followers and engagement.
- It gives you the ability to link to a website and have other contact details added to your profile.
- You can advertise and create promoted images, and stories.
- You can link to your Facebook page so you can cross-promote and cross-advertise.
If you already have an account and need to switch to a business account, you can do that in your account settings.
Tip # 2. Make sure your Instagram profile is worth following and not a sales pitch
Instead of “Book My Vacation Rental in Hawaii” try, “Dreaming about a Hawaiian vacation? Follow along and we’ll show you our favorite spots in this tropical paradise.”
People on Instagram follow others because they want to see great photos, they want to be inspired, be entertained or be shown a life they want to live – they do not want to be constantly sold to.
Your profile Bio and photostream are extremely important – it is your chance to share why people should follow you.
Tip # 3. Plan your photo stream
Use a grid “map” to create a plan at the beginning of each week (or month).
Your profile page is your magazine cover, your storefront. When people visit your profile page they will see your photo grid as well as story highlights (I’ll talk about later). These should be images and videos that inspire your potential followers so they want to click on “follow” and see more of your content. It needs to be visually aesthetic. Using a color scheme or other scheme to create consistency in the look and feel.
I’ve been following this Instagram account since Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas Coast in 2018.
Watching these images come through my feed for several months inspired me to book with them not once, but twice in two weeks. Beautiful images of horses, romantic beach sunsets, and a barnyard full of adorable farm critters truly inspired me (and others) to follow and dream about a horseback ride on the Texas coast.
Tip # 4. Research & learn from other tourism businesses
You can learn a lot from your peers – find them online and watch what hashtags they are using, get inspired by their images, read their captions etc., and notice what is working and what isn’t.
Tip # 5. Encourage your guests to get in on the fun!
Put your Instagram hashtag in your welcome letter and add a note to the fridge. Create a specially branded hashtag and ask guests to share their photos. Remind them where your favorite Instagram worthy spots are – and be sure to ask if you can share their content.
Tip # 6. Grow your following authentically
You want people to follow you, but, just like with Facebook, you want ENGAGED followers who care about you, your destination and your brand.
Your followers will expect sales messages, but they want more than that and they will get turned off quickly.
Growing your following is the biggest struggle for many people and believe me, it does take time, but the key is to just be yourself, post useful and meaningful images, and take time to get to know your followers while you also look for others who will respond to you.
Remember, it is NEVER about the number of followers you have, but about engaged followers – the people who like, comment, share and respond.
For more tips on growing your following and building your engagement (the number of comments, likes, shares, etc. your posts receive), check out my blog post: 5 Tips For Growing Your Instagram Engagement
Tip #7: Use the right hashtags
- Be sure and do your hashtag research and use the hashtags that matter to your audience and destination.
- Always use the hashtags that are relevant to your destination. #SanAntonio #SanAntonioTX #Riverwalk #coloradovacation #skivacation #skiseason #DisneyVacation
- Use hashtags relevant to your audience #familyfun #romanticgetaway #travelfamily #beachfamily #womentraveler #adventuretraveler
- Use vacation rental specific hashtags #airbnb (even if you aren’t on Airbnb it is now a generic term for vacation home), #vacationrental #vacationcabin #holidayrental
- Use a mix of extremely popular hashtags and less popular hashtags. The most popular hashtags show up as you start typing with the number of tags.
- Be sure and use hashtags wisely. Too many hashtags at the end of your post can look spammy and even silly.
Instagram Stories, Highlights & IGTV
Instagram (part of the Facebook family) is constantly finding new ways to keep people on the app longer, build engagement and help brands and influencers market to their followers.
A couple of years ago they added “Instagram Stories” and now they have added “Story Highlights” and IGTV.
Both stories and highlights should definitely be part of your marketing strategy.
How To Use Instagram Stories:
An Instagram story takes over the full screen of your phone and can include text, hashtags, and graphics on top of images to create a single image, single video or slideshow. Clips are 15 seconds long and stay on your profile for 24 hours before they disappear.
You can add multiple images or video clips to create a longer story. On some business profiles (with more than 10,000 followers) you can add the “swipe up” feature that links to a web page. But, even if you don’t have that, replies to your story come to your DM’s so make sure your story has a call to action to reply for more information.
How To Use Instagram Story Highlights
Create a Highlight or a featured story that lives at the top of your profile. You can name the highlight, add a branded cover photo, and create multiple highlights.
For instance, you may want to create a story of a series of images from a meal at a local restaurant, then add it as a highlight with the title “Beach Side Grill” then, ask for the DM – “reply to the story and I’ll send you a link to the menu.”
You have just engaged a follower in conversation. Good job!
Highlights are an awesome way to show off your vacation rental interior, amenities, and local attractions.
How To Use IGTV
IGTV is Instagram’s answer to YouTube! These full-screen videos can last up to ten minutes and can be an amazing tool for travel inspiration.
Record yourself skiing, on a hike or at an amusement park and add it to your IGTV Channel.
Do a walkthrough of your vacation home and point out some of the amazing amenities.
Use it as you would Youtube or Facebook Live. These videos will show up in the IGTV Channel Feed, suggested follows, and in your followers IGTV Feed.
If you are good with video and have a handle on your Instagram, IGTV is a great addition, but it can be overwhelming and time-consuming so I would wait on it while you play with building stories and highlights and creating an engaged following.
Final Advice – Don’t Get Overwhelmed and Have Fun!
Building an Instagram account sounds like some pretty tough work, but once you start you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. Check out my free Instagram Action Planner.
The key to being authentic on Instagram is to enjoy it. Follow others and see the beautiful images they share and start making connections.
Be inspired, then inspire others. If you need help taking great photos, check out this handy guide from Travel & Leisure Magazine.
Be sure and use a planning tool each week to determine what you want to post and how you want to caption, what hashtags you want to create.
Start by creating your account and researching what others post.
Please share your tips in the comments, or share a link to your Instagram page and let us see how you are using this awesome app to market your tourism business!
Learn Instagram Marketing For Your Vacation Rental – From Me!
Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed – everything here is available in my new program – Insta-Booked! An Instagram marketing course specifically designed for vacation rental owners. With walkthrough lessons screen shared from my phone, workbooks and more!