From unique wall patterns to a well-presented cocktail, guests are inclined to post their favorite moments from a hotel stay to Instagram. Here's how industry experts are creating social-worthy spaces at hotels.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—In an age when social media is king, many hotel guests are eager to post photos from a hotel stay to Instagram if the vibe is right, the food is well-presented and the design is thoughtful throughout.
Hotel News Now spoke with industry experts to get a feel for how hotels are being designed in a way that could become a travel moment shared by guests on Instagram. Here are five takeaways from the conversation:
Consider the guest journey
Sure, it’s great to have a bold wall in the lobby behind the front desk, but don’t stop there, sources said. An Instagrammable hotel will carry interesting visuals throughout.
Greg Bodenair, area marketing strategist at Kimpton Hotels of Boston and Cambridge, said it’s important to “think about everything from the guest experience side.”
“Are there other moments … when you set foot into the property that can grab the guest’s attention and … encourage them to take a photo?” he said. A strategy for storytelling that will appeal to social media sharers should involve the hotel’s operations team, he said, since it might require some additional investment in design, “or it might require marketing to come up with a potential contest or campaign.”
Meg Prendergast, principal at The Gettys Group, and Ali Bacon, project designer at The Gettys Group, said their company studied guest journey points to get an idea for how guests might experience a hotel. From there, designers identified parts of the hotel where the design could be highlighted, so that it might inspire Instagram shares.
“You might want to highlight and give them something to remember as they’re walking down some corridor on the way to the ballroom or even some discoverable moment when you’re in the restroom stall,” Prendergast said. “You never know … you really aren’t supposed to be able to figure out where … (guests) find those interesting moments.”
- As part of Hotel News Now's Summer of Social special report, hoteliers shared best practices for using Instagram as a marketing tool.
Create residential and/or relatable moments
Hotels strive to make stays comfortable for guests, and Bacon said moments captured for Instagram are often designs that appeal to a variety of guests.
“It’s sort of about being relatable to things that a lot of people like or that catch their eye,” she said. “Am I taking a picture of my feet with the floor tile, or is there (a) really cool wall covering that I stood in front of or a huge light? It’s just sort of all of these little moments that become relatable to a lot of different people.”
Bacon added that guests have also Instagrammed hotel moments that feel more “residential.”
“I think sometimes it’s a big moment, whether it’s a large-scale pattern or a big, gold sofa, but sometimes I think it’s those little moments that feel a bit residential in hotels,” she said. “… People can relate to the sort of residential aspect in a hotel … whether that be accessories or art.”
Provide unexpected experiences
At Dream Hotel Group properties, it’s pretty much a given that guests are going to take a photo in their guestroom or by the pool. Rachel Kaplan, digital marketing manager at Dream Hotels, said some of the properties feature a few unexpected, Instagrammable moments.
“Instagram allows us to visually market all of the awe-inspiring elements of our hotels,” she said. “While some of these elements are more obvious, like The Beach at Dream Downtown (in New York City), we also have a few unexpected hidden gems for guests to discover and experience.”
These hidden gems include a loading dock that doubles as an exclusive underground club and an entranceway filled with murals, both of which can be found at the Dream Downtown.
Make F&B creative
The guest experience isn’t limited to the hotel lobby entrance, the guestroom entrance and sitting out by the pool. Food-and-beverage is also a big part, and guests often post F&B photos on Instagram if the food presentation catches their eye.
Kaplan said Dream offers guests “highly activated dining and nightlife environments” and creates “new and innovative dishes that become signature experiences in and of themselves.”
“For example, the Bodega Negra at Dream Downtown is famous for their signature dessert, the Don Huevo, which offers guests an equally-mesmerizing-as-it-is-delicious experience,” she said. “Caramel sauce is poured over the white chocolate dome, collapsing to reveal a chocolate molten cake beneath.”
Think about the environment
Presentation is key if you’re trying to get guests to take photos of dishes and post them on Instagram, but you also have to provide the right environment to easily take a cellphone photo, according to Kimpton’s Bodenair.
He added that “at any hotel, any F&B offering is hugely a part of your visual storytelling.”
“One of the challenges hoteliers face when it comes to harnessing user-generated content is when the physical space isn’t photographer-friendly,” he said. “Are you creating an (Instagrammable) environment that allows or affords your guest the opportunity to take photos without requiring a full suite of advance photography equipment to be able to actually capture and share their experience?”