Sounds too good to be a true. Improve my hotels retention rate using just Instagram? A platform for photo and videos? The app people use to sow off that “absolutely delicious” meal they just ate?

Yes! Instagram is what we used for our hotel clients to help them improve their retention rates. Granted it’s not the sole strategy but it is a very resourceful tool with dynamic capabilities and when used right CAN improve your hotel’s retention too!

Let’s first look at some tips on how to build retention that involve soft skills.

Mathew Joy Maniyamkott lists 10 great tips businesses can follow to help build/keep strong retention rates.

Mathew’s 10 Tips

1 Listen Attentively

2 Strong on customer service

3 Having Integrity

4 Communications Calendar

5 Delight Your Customers

6 Reduce Pain Points

7 Create a Community Around Your Brand

8 Incentivize Social Shares

9 Add More Content
10 Personalize, Personalize, Personalize

You can read more on Mathew’s article here 👇🏼

So, how is Instagram a place to build retention? Well, it’s a simple as following your previous clients. Yup. Easy. Follow your guests!

I can hear it now. You’re probably saying, “What about my follower to following ratio?” or “Why would I follow them, isn’t that creepy?”  or even “Wouldn’t we want to follow business pages or influencers?

  1. Forget the ratio! That’s a vanity metric that shouldn’t concern a hotels Instagram page!
  2. Creepy? No! Take your in-house customer service and bring it into your engagement on Instagram
  3. Yes. Follow those pages too. Follow competitors to see what works for them, follow influencers to build those relationships but most importantly follow your previous guest and BUILD RELATIONSHIPS with them!

For our hotel client’s in south Florida we know that their guests are very seasonal. When winter comes around, we know that snowbirds are seeking places to stay, either to escape the cold, visit family & friends or just routinely stay in their favorite city as they do every year. To accompany that audience, there is also the business travelers also in need of accommodations.

Knowing that the same people visit year after year we knew there had to be a way to communicate with them, build a meaningful relationship and improve retention somehow. So, what we did was…

  1. Open Instagram
  2. Search our client’s property Geotag
  3. Scan the posts and weed out the non-guests and any inappropriate posts (Report these if you haven’t already)
  4. Follow all profiles that posted a photo or video on property and some even off property
  5. We did the same with #Hashtags, branded and non-branded

You might be saying, that’s it? What’s the point of this?

Well, remember the ten tips Mathew listed above? We can cover all those just by using Instagram. On top of that you also build brand recall, word of mouth and of course retention.

Let’s break it down…

We can pretend Bill here 🙎🏽‍♂️ is a previous guest at one of our client’s hotels. Say “Hi” Bill 🙋🏽‍♂️

We just followed Bill on Instagram but, not before we liked & requested permission to share the photo of him hanging by the pool at our property (Tips #8, #9 & #10) Throughout the days we see Bill’s posts and engage with them by liking & commenting. Nothing major, just simply treating Bill’s content as we would if we were scrolling through our personal Instagram.

As the days go on, Bill notices the hotel he stayed at is engaging with his content and is quite friendly. He decides to follow back (That’s of course if he wasn’t already following) so BAM building our community, delighting our customer’s (Tip #5 & #7)

As we continue this trend of engagement and Bill see’s our notifications, comments and such, he continuously sees our brand name and profile picture. This is building brand recall at the property level, not just the brand level. Tell me where else you can do this for free and without coming off as spam?

As weeks pass and seasons change Bill is once again planning his trip to south Florida and needs a hotel to stay at. He decides to message us asking if we are a pet friendly hotel. We message him back letting him know that it’s probably the friendliest hotel of them all and include a reminder at the bottom of the message to book direct for the best rate, providing the website link 😉 (Tip #2).

Bill hits the link and searches for his travel dates, finds the room he wants, the one he stayed in 2 years ago that had a view he loved but, he finds out that it’s sold out! He darts over to Instagram, messages us and asks us if there is an alternative that had a comparable view? We of course assure him there is and lead him to the appropriate room, which he books (Tip #1 & #6).

Now Bill, happy with his selection and ready for his trip to Florida is back as a repeat guest!

If you haven’t guessed by now, the Bill example was an actual interaction that happened with one of our clients (Thanks Bill!)

But what about Tip #3 & #4?

Having Integrity – this comes in the form of being genuine. When engaging with your audience be genuine. Pay attention to what you are liking, make genuine comments, not just the “Wow! 😍” comment. Laugh with your guests, wish them well if they make a post about a knee injury. Send condolences. Congratulate them on that promotion!

Think about it, this is social media, everyone knows there is someone behind the screen commenting. Don’t make them feel like it’s a robot. Be genuine, bring the brand alive and give it personality. Your past customers should feel like you care, not just in-house but out of it too

Communications Calendar – Just as your email campaigns are systemized, so should this. We block out time each day to engage on our timeline. We dedicate 20 minutes per day to engage and keep the relationships strong. Granted we will never engage with them all, every time but over time it all adds up

One additional thing to point out here. This can be done with ANYONE that has previously been a guest. That includes any F&B guests. Did a local come in and grab lunch at the bar and post that Mediterranean salad you serve? Follow them and keep them coming back for lunch 😋

So, there you have it. How to improve your Hotel’s retention & build lasting guest relationships using Instagram

Want to learn more hotel marketing strategies? Follow our LinkedIn Page HERE

J. Oliver Advertising
Hotel Marketing & Advertising