Tips for Insta-Success: An Instagram Checklist for Independent Hotels

Instagram For Independent Hotels

It used to be photos in magazines and scenes on television that inspired us to travel, but the internet has made the world much more accessible, inspiring our dreams anywhere, anytime. While we are still motivated by traditional media and recommendations from friends and family, we’re also now constantly influenced by online campaigns and social media, where the experiences of people we know—and don’t know—feed our travel dreams.

As of 2021, Instagram has two billion active users around the globe. Filled with beautiful photos and captivating videos, it allows these users to categorize and find posts via hashtags like #travelinspo or #sanfranciscohotel, making it an exciting platform for both discovering and marketing content.

With its focus on visual storytelling, Instagram is the perfect platform for travel marketers. Whether you are already on Instagram or thinking about getting started, these tips will help you make the most of your property’s Instagram account.


Business Profile

If you haven’t already, make sure your hotel’s Instagram account is set up as a business profile. Switching to a business profile is free and allows you access to tools that help market to a wider audience, improving visibility and driving sales.

With a business profile, you can run promotions through Instagram Ads (more on that later) and connect your Instagram account to your property’s Facebook page to boost exposure. It also enables you to use Instagram Insights, providing real-time metrics on post and account performance and helping fine-tune your marketing efforts. 

Last but not least, your business profile allows you to select a category for your business and add contact information (email, address, phone number, website, opening hours) so customers can easily find you.


Choose a username that clearly identifies your property; ideally, the actual name of your property. Bear in mind spaces are not allowed in usernames, so keep it simple and understandable.

Profile Photo

Your profile photo should reinforce your branding, so it’s best to use your property’s logo or a photo of your hotel that is easily recognizable as a small thumbnail image.


In a few compelling characters (up to 150), your bio should describe your property while showcasing its personality and prompting customers to take action (include a CTA!). Your bio appears near the top of your profile and should include a link to your property’s website. If you’ve created your own branded hashtag, you should include this in your bio as well (more on branded hashtags later).


Follow Local Businesses

Find and follow other local businesses that complement the guest experience, such as tour operators, restaurants, galleries, and other attractions. Engage with these businesses (like and comment on their posts) to build your Instagram community. Follow your competitors too (you know what they say about keeping enemies close!) to gain insight into their strategies and help you stay in the game.

Maintain a Cohesive Look and Feel

Decide on a “style” for your posts that reflects your property’s personality. Maintaining a cohesive look and feel for your account helps to reinforce branding and tell your story.

Quality Photos and Videos

Instagram is filled with great-looking content designed to inspire, so low-quality images stand out like a sore thumb. Creating quality content builds brand credibility and isn’t difficult to do with Instagram’s various filters and effects, allowing you to produce creative, professional-looking photos and videos with your phone.

Purposeful Captions and Hashtags

Keep captions short and sweet, but put some thought into them. They play an important part in engaging followers and calling them to action. Use captions to provide context for images and communicate messages in your brand’s unique voice.

Include relevant hashtags to help people find your post, but don’t go overboard. Experiment regularly to find the right amount. 

Use a Branded Hashtag

Branded hashtags are great for promoting your property and campaigns and encouraging user-generated content. Consistently using your property’s name as a hashtag (for example, #willowmotel) with every post helps people find your content and encourages guests to use your hashtag when posting their own pics of their experiences at your property.

Branded hashtags can also be created for special promotions, events, and contests, for example, #willowmotelselfie #freenightonwillow or #willowdisco2023.

Add Location

Take advantage of the Add Location feature to tag posts with a physical location that helps users discover them and your property.

Instagram Reels and Stories

Instagram Stories are short slideshows of photos and/or videos that make full use of the mobile screen, have the ability to add text, stickers, and music, and disappear after 24 hours (unless downloaded, archived, or saved as a highlight). Stories are an effective way to promote your property, with 36 percent of users having engaged with a branded Story by liking, commenting on, or sharing it. Use Stories to promote limited time offers, showcase new amenities, run customer polls, and share behind-the-scenes glimpses into your world. 

While Stories are still effective, Reels are on the up and up with an average reach rate of 20.59 percent and engagement rate of 1.95 percent. Reels consist of full-screen vertical video and come with a slew of editing effects. However, unlike Stories, they do not vanish after 24 hours. Instagram’s algorithm even gives them preference! 

Paid Advertising

Instagram ads work like Facebook ads, helping you get the most out of your best-performing posts. With ads for images, video, Stories, Reels and more—advertising on Instagram is a cost-effective way to expand the reach of any kind of post. Just like Facebook ads, you have full control over defining the target audience, campaign objectives, budget, and duration of each ad.

Keep an eye on ad performance through Instagram Insights to find out what works best.


To become an active and engaging member of your Instagram community, it’s important to engage with other users by liking and commenting on the posts of guests and local businesses that inspire you.

Promote Your Instagram Account

Let customers know they can find and follow your property on Instagram by promoting your Instagram account on your website and other social media channels, in pre- and post-stay emails, and your newsletter. An Instagram icon or button that links to your Instagram account is all it takes. 

Promote your Instagram account offline too, in in-room welcome packs and on property signage. Include your account name and branded hashtag.

Post Consistently

You don’t need to post every day to be successful on Instagram. The key is being consistent. Settle on a schedule that is manageable going forward; consistently posting two or three times a week is much better than posting every day for the first week, then running out of steam.


As for what to post, focus on telling your property’s story. People use Instagram to find inspiration, so inspire wanderlust by showcasing your property’s personality and uniqueness. In addition to promoting rooms and facilities, create content that highlights the stay experience from different angles.

Out and About in Your Neighborhood

Attract visitors to your destination by highlighting the scenery, attractions, and local hotspots of your neighborhood. Show them an experience beyond the walls of your property.

Guests’ Interests

What do your guests like to do when they stay? Exploring the surrounding mountains? Wining and dining? Relaxing on the beach? Show them the kind of content they love.

It’s in the Details

Exercise your artistic eye and capture those special details unique to your property—like that cool pattern in your tiles, that beautifully presented dish from your restaurant, the way the evening light dapples across your patio…

Behind the Scenes

Give followers a privileged glimpse behind the scenes to show them how much you care about making their stay a great one. Staff interviews and selfies, renovations in progress, the making of your best-selling cocktail, property events… Sharing behind-the-scenes moments makes followers feel more connected with your business.

Instagram’s popularity is going strong, especially with those who love to travel (two-thirds of vacationers look to it for inspiration before booking!). So make the most of your property’s Instagram account to reach highly engaged travelers and inspire them to stay with you.

Last updated July 2023