It’s the 21st century. You’ve got to reach your potential guests on social media or you may not reach them at all. People who like to travel also like to hang out on Instagram watching influencers and looking for the next great stay. That’s why your hospitality’s online engagement is critical, especially on Instagram.
Your road to great engagement often starts with a great caption. Captions start conversations, and conversations start relationships. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but if you want the customers to talk back, you’d better use some actual written language too.
That said, as Jenn Herman wrote for Social Media Examiner points out, most businesses don’t have the star power of an influencer. If you want to make a splash with your captions, you’ll need to know how. Here’s how to supercharge your Instagram captions and hook people right into your posts – and from there, into your hospitality.
Write As You Talk
Your guests get enough advertisements from the likes of chain hotels and Airbnb listings. If you write as you talk, you’ll show them that you can offer warmer, more personal service. Make sure that you correct for grammar, but otherwise, caption naturally. Even if you use a template as Elise Musumano suggests, you’ll need to make every post sound genuine. Your viewers will be more willing to engage. You’ll be able to see this on your Instagram metrics if you look. If you’re not sure what Instagram metrics are, then check out Krishna Bora’s great article over at Campaign Monitor on just this subject.
Relate To The Photo
Want people to engage with your hospitality online? That means having an actual conversation. If you post a picture to start the discussion, capitalise by writing your caption about the picture’s content. If
you post an image of your dog run, for example, don’t talk about random things like the view of the surrounding hills or your state-of-the-art bathrooms. Talk about the fact that you’re dog-friendly hospitality! You could reference the exact dogs in the picture, how great your dog run is, or the many customers who love your canine amenities. Envol has a post by Brianna Blaney that shows you just a few hospitality Instagram accounts that are killing it. Follow those to get an idea of what your marketing should look like.
If you’re not even sure what to put on Instagram, then look around your hospitality for what you want your customers to see. Blue Magnet has an excellent piece by Phoebe Svoboda about how to find just the right photo to post.
Don’t Write A Novel
Instagram is best suited to short captions. People are drawn to pictures, and when they’re online, they don’t have much patience for reading. If you feel you really need to publish two or three paragraphs, then be sure that you really can’t cut your caption down any more. Now that Instagram supports quick replies, it’ll be your responses that tell people that they want to stay at your hospitality. HotelNewsResource has a post discussing some of the new Instagram changes that affect how you’ll talk back to your followers.
Ultimately, you’ll need to put your best material first. The reason is the much-feared and tyrannical cut.
Be Aware Of The Cut
The cut is the point on a page or post where your viewer can’t read anymore. On Instagram, writing too much can result in a curtailed caption. Instead of showing the entire caption, Instagram ends with three dots and a link that reads “more.” Unless the best part of your hospitality’s online engagement has happened north of that point, you won’t draw your potential guests into the rest of the post. Make them want to click by putting something utterly fascinating in the first sentence. Think of it as the subject line of a marketing email.
View this post on Instagram
MAKE IT YOUR OWN // When you picture your wedding you don’t want it to be the same as everyone else’s – you want it to reflect you as a couple. At The Hotel Salem we are open to anything that makes your day your own! ✨ #brides #weddingreception #wedding #onalark #love #stayhotelsalem #larkhotels #salem #northshore
Remember, your hashtags don’t have to go on top. In fact, according to Guy Sheetrit at ClickZ, it can be good to hide your hashtags so that they don’t get boring. Consider putting them in the comments section.
Paragraphs: Short And Sweet
Your hospitality’s online engagement depends on your viewers’ ability to easily access your content. That’s why it’s important to make sure that your paragraphs are brief and easy to read. Let’s face it: your customer doesn’t want to see a wall of text.
As Oak St. Social points out, line breaks are critical to a good caption.
That means you also need to be aware of how Instagram handles formatting.
Tailor Your Message
This goes back to knowing your tribe. You’re on Instagram to talk to your people. If you’re a farm stay business focusing on outdoor life, then you don’t need to waste time talking to urbanite cinephiles who prefer TV dinners. Write your caption for hikers, bikers, and family travellers! It can help to follow other hospitalities on Instagram, as well as influencers in your tribe, to see what everyone’s tagging.
If you really want to lean into this kind of marketing, then check out influencer marketing tips from Grin’s Brian Mechem. Among other strategies, working with Instagram influencers as models and asking influencers to link to your website in their own Instagram posts can help increase your Insta-fu.
Talk Up Direct Booking
I’ve said it a thousand times, but it bears repeating: your customers need to book direct if you’re to be competitive in today’s hospitality market. It’s the best way to succeed as independent hospitality. Hospitalities online just had a #BookDirect Day on February 6th 2019. Even if you missed this, there’s no reason not to talk about direct booking on Instagram whenever you can. Remember, your guests want to save money. That, coupled with a strong call to action, can inspire them to bypass the OTAs. Speaking of which…
Call To Action
Once you’ve engaged your potential customers, you need to rope them in with a good, strong call to action. “Book Today” is a good one because it can link directly to your page, and therefore score you a direct booking. That said, it’s important to get creative about CTAs. If you just keep banging the “Book Now” drum, people will get used to it and stop listening.
“Check out our August calendar of events” is a fine variation, and your guests may also be willing to “take a swim in our new saltwater pool,” “see for yourself how soft our new pillows are,” or “try our vegan-friendly menu seven days a week.” Do as Airbnb did and highlight your experiences. The sky’s the limit.
I have created a free, 5-step email guide to help you increase your direct bookings! Click here to get your copy.