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).
Look, 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.
With more than 5,367,715 images for #airbnb and more than 900,000 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.
It’s time to move “Start Using 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.
8 Tips To Use Instagram For Vacation Rental Marketing
Tip # 1. Think Of Yourself as a “Travel Magazine” rather than a business
Your Instagram is more than a social network full of images of your vacation rental! It is an interactive mini-website focused on helping travelers discover or learn more about a new and exciting destination.
Share inspirational images that create FOMO (fear of missing out) on your experience. Beautiful views, quiet beaches, family hikes, a flight of beer, an amazing appetizer, a local band playing live music… etc. etc.
Think of your Perfect Guest Avatar (my term for your target market) and make a list of all the things in your destination that would make them excited about a trip.
Tip # 2. Make sure your Instagram profile is worth following
Instead of “Book My Vacation Rental in Hawaii” try, “Dreaming about a Hawaiian vacation? Follow along to see our favorite spots & things to do in this tropical paradise & plan your first (or next) trip! 🌴
(note, your bio can only be 150 characters.)
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 follow brands and businesses because those businesses provide value to their lives.
Your profile Bio and above the fold photo stream (your top 9 images) are extremely important – it is your chance to share why people should follow you.
Tip # 3. Plan your content with “Content Pillars”
Content Pillars are the content categories you regularly contribute to Instagram.
Thinking of your Perfect Guest, and the list you made of images and videos they would like to see, now think of how to group these into several basic themes.
Be sure to include your vacation rental or rentals as one of your themes which includes guest reviews, images of your home, close up images of amenities, etc.
You should also include content that shares your personality! Think pics of your kids enjoying your destination, a front facing live video of you sharing something fun, etc.
One of my favorite follows is @happyinthekeys She shares lots of images of her dog, Layla, who is almost like their vacation rental mascot. As you get to know Layla, you can see the authenticity of the owner, Martie and her team. Who wouldn’t book a vacation home from someone who finds joy in her dog catching fish in the ocean.
The point, again, not everything is about sharing pictures of your rental with a call to action to book now!
Tip # 4 Be sure your Instagram is aesthetically pleasing
As I mentioned above, when people look at your profile they want to see images that appeal to them. They want to see themselves in your content. So, the content itself is important, but so is the look and feel of the content.
Use constant colors (brand colors if you have them), or a consistent filter or couple of filters. Be sure any words you use on your images are in a darker and larger font so they stand out. (you don’t have to put the entire review on your image, use a snippet then finish the review in your caption.)
Sometimes it is just impossible to create an image or take a photo that doesn’t mesh with your brand. That’s OKAY, just remember to be as consistent as possible.
Tip # 5. Grow your following authentically and meet new people!
You want people to follow you, but, just like with Facebook, you want followers who care about you, your destination and your brand.
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 search hashtags and locations to meet and engage with new people who might be your perfect guest waiting for you to find them!
Remember, it is NEVER about the number of followers you have, but about engaged followers – the people who like, comment, share and respond
Tip #6 Use hashtags and location tags
Be sure and do some basic hashtag research and find hashtags that relate to you and your audience.
Use hashtags that actually represent your photo and caption.
Use larger hashtags sparingly, concentrate on smaller niche hashtags for example, #coloradoairbnb (2000 images) rather than #airbnb (5 million images)
When relevant, include hashtags about your destination and experience. For example, #sanantoniotexas #texashillcountry #texasvacationgoals #sanantonioriverwalk
Similarly, tag your photos with the location. Vary the location tags. You don’t want to use your exact location, because nobody is out there searching for images from your exact vacation rental. Think the larger region and nearby towns or landmarks. Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina, Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina Mountains, Pisgah National Forest, Linville North Carolina
Tip # 7 Use the tools Instagram gives you.
Every time Instagram provides new tools to use, those tools become more prominent in the feeds of others; thereby increasing your chances of getting found by new future guests.
Last year they added Reels as competition to Tik Tok, they now have Instagram Shops, and you can even create fun Instagram Guides from your posts, other people’s posts or locations.
Instagram Stories and IGTV videos have been a thing for a while, but both get a ton of engagement. Stories live at the top of everyone’s photo stream, so more of your followers will see your story than they do your original post.
Highlights are your Instagram Stories that you save to a collection. The collection can be viewed later and lives on top of your profile for people who look at your profile to see and learn about you.
Tip #8 Don’t expect a ton of bookings – especially at first
Instagram is a tool. Using it will help you build connections with local businesses, tourism brands, and future guests, but it takes a lot of “touches” from a brand before people are comfortable buying.
Rather than concentrating on getting bookings, then getting discouraged and giving up, concentrate on building the relationship off of Instagram. Send them to a blog post on your website with a call to action to get on your newsletter list. Ask them to follow you on Facebook, or start a conversation with them in your DM’s (direct messages.)
Just like any online or offline social network, it takes time to build like and trust. But, like and trust and keeping yourself top of mind for those who are ready to book their next vacation will eventually reward you with bookings.
Final Advice – don’t get overwhelmed and have fun!
Building an Instagram account for your vacation rental business or property management company sounds like some pretty tough work, but once you start you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly.
The key to being authentic on Instagram is to enjoy it. Follow others and see the beautiful images they share and start making connections.
If you haven’t started yet, just jump in with a business account. Then spend time researching what similar businesses post and share. Look at travel and lifestyle magazines on Instagram (my favorite is Southern Living.)
Once you have created a few basic posts, start with adding a Story. Once you get the hang of that, try a video or a live story.
You’ll get the hang of it!
If you need help, look no further than my Instagram Action Plan. This guide and workbook will help you get organized and get started building an amazing Instagram presence!
And feel free to follow me, @heyjodibourne on Instagram and say hello.
Jodi Bourne is a vacation rental marketing consultant and website designer. She helps vacation rental owners and property managers increase direct bookings with her WordPress website design, content creation, social media, advertising and strategic marketing services. With several online courses and a live group coaching program, Jodi helps vacation rental marketers successfully use content marketing to increase website traffic and direct bookings. Jodi is a wife, mom, dog mom and road tripper who can often be found working from a vacation rental somewhere in Texas with her laptop, a cup of coffee and her lab pup Jolene.More about this business