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Getting Started With Instagram: Tips For Your Vacation Rental Business

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This is a guest blog post from Inna Shevchenko, Director of Marketing at iGMS. Thanks for sharing, Inna!


Top Vacation Rental Instagram Practices For More Bookings

Nowadays, most people have Instagram accounts. What’s more, they typically check their feed (at least) once a day. So, if this social media platform is not part of your repertoire, you may be missing big opportunities to connect with new markets, including millennials – a large sector of the travel industry. Vacation rental property photos are one of the first things that potential guests look at when planning a trip, and Instagram posts are the perfect opportunity for a great visual grab!

Here are some of the best Instagram practices and marketing strategies that are sure to help you to create interest in your short-term rentals and boost your bookings.

Getting The Picture(s)

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Although practical photos of your bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, living areas, and amenities sound boring, they are necessary for your Instagram feed. It goes without saying that you should strive for high-quality images. This applies not just to social media marketing, but to listing sites like Vrbo and Airbnb as well! To give these standard pics Instagram-worthy artistic flair, take it up a notch and try the following:

● Photograph from different angles.

● Shoot from corner-to-corner as opposed to flat walls. This will add some dimensionality to your photos that will help make your pictures pop.

● Change up some of your décor, such as the placement of cushions and blankets, so that every photo does not look exactly the same. This way, all your photos will still look fresh and new, even though you have photographed that room before.

That being said, the photos that you add to your Instagram page should go beyond simply showing off your property and its amenities. An effective Instagram marketing campaign also tries to capture the lifestyle that your property can offer, and the vibe of being there. Besides, you have invested a lot of resources to make sure that your vacation home is perfect right down to the last detail. So, be sure to include photos that accentuate the details too! Sometimes that indirect call-to-action can have the most direct impact, so here are some practical tips to capture the perfect guest experience:

● Include a bestseller on the bedside table to convey that your place can offer a tranquil escape from the rat race.

● If you have a book collection or herb garden, take photos of these details as they add to the personality of your space.

● If your property oozes rustic living, take a photo of a glass of red wine and some home-made bread and preserves. These touches help to show your Instagram followers that you put in extra effort to cater to their needs.

● Let the holidays and seasons guide you as well! Popular events like Halloween, New Year’s Eve, and Saint Patrick’s Day are real Instagram-worthy events. Capitalize on these moments by staging your home for a few seasonal photos.

And Action!

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Videos can actually be more effective than photos on Instagram. If you can, be sure to record a couple of videos too. Nowadays most smartphones have really good built-in cameras which means you don’t have much of an excuse not to add short videos. No one says they have to be Spielberg-worthy productions. Sometimes, simple behind-the-scenes moments offer unique, endearing opportunities to just be real and demonstrate the in-the-moment fun of being there. 

Another perk of using videos is that you can upload them to YouTube as well. You can then create a backlink to your Instagram profile which will help you to grow your number of subscribers on both networks even further.

Tag, You’re It!

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When it comes to adding tags, the more the merrier! After all, tags help Instagram users to find your vacation rental on Instagram. Though there are many schools of thought on the appropriate number of hashtags to use per post, a general average is eleven. Too many and you risk being spammy – too few and you may be missing opportunities!

Popular hashtags may include the name of your place and the type of style such as art deco, minimalism, etc. Consider adding area and regional hashtags too like #golfgetaway, #waltdisneyworld, #oceanfront, #skiresort or others that are popular lures to the destinations where your vacation rentals are. 

You can also tag suppliers and influencers in the vacation rental industry. You can, for instance, mention where you purchased a specific accessory or furniture piece. Who knows? The designer might just return the favor and repost your Instagram photos or videos to others who in turn might market your rental to their followers!

Try different combinations of hashtags and track your results to see what seems to garner the most attention from active users. Instagram business accounts offer fantastic analysis and insight into what’s trending and Instagrammers’ activity, though there is no set known algorithm that will assure viral success, of course.

Localize Your Content

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Remember that guests are there to visit your area. Whether it is for business or pleasure, the chances are good that they will spend most of their time exploring. So, make sure that you also post about interesting activities and places in your neighborhood. It does not have to be anything elaborate – a photo of a lunch at a local restaurant can let them experience the taste of things to come…

In fact, you should focus more on places of interest in your area than your property itself. For every four photos that you post of your place and its amenities, you should post six photos of your area and neighborhood.

You can even turn this into a video by posting a story tour of your city to your Instagram account. Not only is this a great way to show off your city, but your potential guests also see that you boast an in-depth knowledge of the latest travel trends, and that you are quite literally willing to walk the extra mile for them.

Ask Your Guests to Follow You

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At times the best approach is the simplest one! Why not simply ask your guests to follow you on Instagram and like your content?

Then, ask your guests to post their own pictures of your place on Instagram (tagging you, of course). Content generated by guests is, in fact, more effective than the content that you have created for your Instagram account as it helps to represent your vacation rental in a much more authentic manner.

You can, for example, create a hashtag campaign that will motivate your guests to post photos of your place while they are enjoying their stay. This will add priceless special nuances! If you find that guests are reluctant to share their posts, you can tie your hashtag campaign to a giveaway or competition.

Asking your guests to follow you is also a great way to welcome back returning guests. Once your guests have followed you, they will see all your new content, motivating them to book their next stay.

Being Consistent and Being “Real”

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Ideally, you want to publish a new post at least once a week. Though, you should not just post for posting’s sake – your videos and photos must remain original. You should also avoid being too blatant or pitchy with your promotion. 

Write your content with character and keep your graphics natural and simple. It’s best to avoid using filters and distracting stickers or decorative icons on your images, but it’s wise to add your logo to each image you publish and every graphic you design. If you have quite a few properties, consider posting rotating features in the form of collages or short GIF videos to showcase homes that could use an extra push. If you only have one home, or a few, this can still work for you – just diversify the photos and/or video content from time to time to keep it fresh. Change up your description when posting new graphics, too. For example, if you promoted the home’s lake access for watersports in the spring, maybe it makes for great ice skating or ice fishing in the winter! Keep your content timely, relevant, and updated. 

To better implement these marketing tips into a winning Instagram strategy, it’s wise to plan your posts out ahead and schedule them to publish at pre-determined days and times. You can do this with the help of scheduling tools like Hootsuite or Later. This allows you to view your entire month in advance, honing in on any lengthy gaps between posts, and checking on the diversity of your content. If there is a holiday, or a “social media holiday” (don’t miss the chance to post on #worldtravelday, or #Christmas, for example) coming up, you also don’t have to worry about remembering to wish your guests well. Set up a planning calendar in your tool of choice, set up your posts for the month (or week, or longer), and let it go! If needs change or timely news arises, you can always edit or delete posts before they publish, and you can add new content that presents itself along the way – perfect!

Last Few Thoughts to Ponder

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Instagram can be a very effective tool to get more traffic to your listings and ultimately more bookings. With every post, you can grow your number of followers.  At the end of the day, in order to be successful as a vacation rental owner in the hospitality industry, you need to show your guests that you truly care. Let this guide you when you write your content and, equally important, respond to your followers’ comments.

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