So you would like to level up your Instagram game for your own hostel? After all, it is a great marketing channel that could potentially bring in more guests to fill the beds.
In this handy guide we will have a closer look. We are Hostelz.com and we help you sift through the major hostel booking websites to find the best price for all hostels around the world.
Start here: How to Create an Irresistible Hostel from the start.
Instagram for Hostels - Explained
- 1. Understanding Instagram
- 2. Make your Hostel „Instagrammable“ — with examples
- 3. Encouraging shares - offline and online
- 4. Mistakes to avoid
- 5. The Posting Process
- Summary: How to use Instagram as a Hostel
1. Understanding Instagram
I want to kick off this guide by actually introducing Instagram. First, we should narrow down what the goals are and why we use Instagram for hostels.
Instagram is a photo-sharing app with millions of users. It is very likely that your future customers are also using the app. It is no secret that Instagram plays a big role for travelers to choose their next destination, things to do, cafés to visit, restaurant to dine at, and hotels and hostels to sleep at.
So in a nutshell, you want to master the art of being in front of a potential future client of yours.
The no-goals are glory-hunting, meaning hunting for likes and applause. The second no-goal is to reach irrelevant users for your business. It does not help your business to get 900 likes by people that are never traveling and with zero interest in your hostel, but love the photos of your homemade pasta.
It. Is. Pointless.
Therefore, get your game together and set your goals accordingly. For your hostel to improve on Instagram, you want to reach a relevant audience that could turn into customers, visiting your hostel and city.
2. Make your Hostel „Instagrammable“ — with examples
The more picturesque a hostel, hotel and place in general is, the more likely the users will like and share it.
Let us have a look at how a hostel can improve their „Instagrammy“ factor.
Instagrammy Spaces - 8 Top Hostels
I am sharing here 8 of some of our favorite hostels in the world. They are not just outstanding in real life, but also do a fantastic job at bringing their lifestyle and hostel to life in the app!
1. The Journey Hostel in Santa Marta, Colombia
Building a huge following on Instagram is easy when you have an infinity pool, endless jungle and cocktails to show off. The Jungle Hostel has done well to showcase the same amenities and surrounding area over and over again by utilising different lighting, angles and beautiful bodies.
Catchy little videos with funky music and clever tagging have obviously paid off, too!
Find out more and book: The Journey Hostel
2. Caveland Santorini , Greece
This unique hostel in Santorini almost has an easy job: It is a former winery and boutique hotel turned into a top rated hostel. It comes with a swimming pool, yoga classes, and the dorms are in the former caves used for storing the wine. And then of course: it is located in Santorini Island in Greece - nice.
Open their Instagram and have a close look. Fresh colors, happy guests, great food and scenery mixed with inviting travel quotes and cool hostel snaps.
It might be interesting for you to know: The owner themself runs the show on their Instagram profile!
Find out more and book: Caveland Santorini
3. Mad Monkey Hostels
The famous party hostel chain Mad Monkey Hostels do a great job showcasing their hostels and atmosphere at all their properties. The atmopshere, vibes and experience you get here is what they are focused on.
They highlight their fun parties as well as the communal areas and of course, the famous swimming pools in many of their hostels.
Mad Monkey are one of the most popular backpacker hostels in the world.
4. Pipe House Playa Grande, Tamarindo
We jump over to Costa Rica and see Pipe House sharing mostly two types of photos: The landscape you can expect to see, and the hostel you will stay in. This is their secret sauce to reaching almost 5000 followers.
Find out more and book: Pipe House Playa Grande
Selina is one of the biggest Hostel Brands in the world. Here you can read all about the Selina Hostels.
Being a hostel chain with more than 80 hostels worldwide, it can be challenging to share location related content. And so, it's expected that the locations will be mixed.
However, all hostels share the same quality standard and have great locations. From long beaches in Tulum, Mexico to the heart of Athens in Greece.
For a wide range of traveler types, this all looks interesting and exciting.
Selina does a great job of mixing their own content with guest-created content.
Besides, since the Selina Hostels are inviting you to create beautiful instagrammy photos, it makes the job of the Selina Social Media Manager even easier. Well played, Selina!
6. Hostel Oryx in Tulum, Mexico
The entire vibe of Hostel Oryx's Instagram feed radiates health, relaxation and style. Just from glancing at a few photos you quickly get a feel for the hostel which is an awesome way to pull in people's attention.
Real life guests are featured regularly, adding a wonderful personalised impression. Because the photos speak loudly for themselves, not much effort needs to go into the text.
Find out more and book: Hostel Oryx
7. Ecomama, Amsterdam
All right, you might argue „cool profile, but my hostel has no pool, no bikinis, no buddha bowls and all that stuff. So I am screwed!“
Well, no, you are not. Let me show you the Ecomama Hostel, one of my favorite hostels in Amsterdam. On their account they focus on their very own hostel, sharing detailed close-ups and fun photos from the rooms. If you are looking for inspiration on „instagrammy interior design“, then check out Ecomama.
Even the bathrobe in the private rooms has an „OFFLINE“ printed on the back.
Find out more and book: Ecomama Amsterdam
8. Kos One Hostel, Canggu
Bikini, six pack and Bali! Kos One is the most impressive hostel in Canggu, catering to hip travellers that love to stay in hostels but do not want to have the typical backpacker lifestyle.
Kos One is a community of like-minded travel enthusiasts. Huge pool, water slide, Jacuzzi, rice-field-view and surfer vibes. The profile is focused on sharing more „sexy“ photos of their guests in bikinis, with six packs and pine apples. I especially like way they edit the photos with a kind of creamy pastel-colored filter. This gives the whole gallery a special look and feel.
Find out more and book: Kos One Hostel
3. Encouraging shares - offline and online
Do you encourage your guests to share their experience on their Instagram? It can be worth it. Be a bit creative and think what you can offer your guests so they share your hostel with their friends.
This can be anything from a free drink or free laundry or even a simple pin or sticker you sell from your hostel. Just place a sign somewhere to tag you along with your correct handle (@hostelz, for instance) as well as location. It works wonders!
There is also accommodation offering special discounts to anyone with a certain amount of followers.
All that being said, an outstanding hostel will be shared almost automatically on social media. Scroll up and look again at the 5 examples I shared. These hostels do not actively encourage their guests to take photos and put them online. Yet, it is so obvious and inviting to the guests to do it.
It is fair to say, in todays world of having a camera always in your pocket, a fantastic looking hostel will receive much more attention than an average looking one.
4. Mistakes to avoid
Whilst Instagram is super user-friendly this can sometimes be counter-productive because the steps to showcasing your hostel are as simple 1,2,3.
So, here are some mistakes to definitely avoid if you want to be successful with Instagram.
1. Low Quality Photos and Videos
Instagram is 99% photos and videos. So when you post low quality photos and videos, you are doing yourself no favor. In fact, it is better to do nothing than low quality. Invest a few bugs in a good smartphone camera. I also recommend to consider photo editing. It is so easy nowadays. Even I can do it!
Great (and FREE) apps are Snapped and Adobe Light Room.
2. No Hashtags
#Hashtags are a great way for users to find your content. And these can be super powerful since you can reach people you haven’t reached before.
Do your research and use relevant hashtags. And keep them relevant! For example, if you're posting a photo of one of your dorm rooms include hashtags like #hostel #dorm #femaledorm #mixeddorm etc.
3. Wrong format
You can upload different formats to Instagram. Yet, here is the thing. The „taller“ the photo is, the longer it takes the user to scroll through your photo. If your photo is horizontal/ landscape, a user can scroll through it much faster. This could hurt your engagement rate, and result in less likes and less comments. We always recommend to use at least square photos, or even better taller ones.
Here are the formats we recommend:
- Tall: 1080 pixel width - 1350 pixel
- Square: 1080 pixel to 1080 pixel
If your photo is larger, you can reduce it when you post.
4. Your profile is not complete
I cannot count the number of incomplete hostel accounts I have seen. In fact, while writing this article I was searching for bad examples. The first 5 hostel profiles I opened showed a few mistakes like missing city, country and even link. A complete profile provides the following information:
- Name of the hostel
- Location: City + Country
- Website (or Booking Link, Facebook Link etc)
- Main Contact such as phone or email
- Short relevant Bio
I created a fiction hostel profile for you.
Can you guess where the city of Halmstad is located?
Most likely you do not; I certainly did not before I met a local from that city in the south of Sweden. Therefore, remember to add the city AND country. This helps users massively to understand if your profile is worth it to follow or not.
In our opinion: not adding your city + country is one of the worst instagram mistakes you can do.
5. Being Spammy
No one wants to see the same photos over and over again in a short window of time. Be relevant, mix things up, and be creative.
Another idea: You can as well share the photos your guests took and shared on Instagram. They will be proud you shared it and you bond yet again.
6. Forget to reply
Instagram is very much about engagement. Remember to check your activity, latest comments and messages. Answer any questions you receive as fast as you can. It does not mean you have to check in every 30 seconds!
Activate the notifications on Instagram; problem solved.
7. Posting irrelevant stuff
You are running a hostel or at the very least an accommodation or something in the tourism sector. After all, this is why you are reading this article. Make sure you have set your goals and post relevant information. Your hostel is interesting for the people. The things to do in you area is interesting. The staff is interesting, the people staying in your place, the events, the pool area, the facilities. All that stuff that makes your hostel and destination cool can be of interest.
However, photos of your basil plant may not be so interesting. Therefore, focus and post relevant information and photos.
8. Waste too much time on Instagram
Remember, you are running a hostel and your job is it to be home for travelers and fill the beds. It is not your job to be the #1 hostel in the world on Instagram with 1 million followers but no one ever visited your place.
Instagram can be very artificial and a huge time waster. Focus on your business, and use Instagram as a marketing tool only.
9. Underestimate the Reach of Instagram
In recent years, Instagram became a massive research tool for travel tips. This includes anything from restaurants, things to see, photos to take and accommodations to stay.
Your instagram profile as well as your hashtag, and your location tag can be super powerful. It bring in a big amount of customers without you even knowing. Therefore, look up your hashtags and location. Stay relevant. Share.
One more tip: You could team up with other places in your area for sharing each others profile. A great restaurant could share your cool-looking hostel and vice versa.
It is a win-win-win. For you, for the restaurant, and for the user.
10. Not Posting in English
Last but not least, make sure most users can actually understand what you are writing and sharing. This includes the language you choose.
Some accounts post in their native language as well as in English. This has the advantage that you also reach locals, in case you need this.
11. Not up to date
Of course it is not your main job to keep your instagram and facebook page up to date. But, you have to consider one thing: if your last post is from 2 years ago, it might be time to update it.
If you do not want to be active, this is okay. In this case, we recommend a last post of stating that this profile will no longer be updated and forward them to your website, your hostelz profile or facebook. This is much better than leaving it empty. A super old instagram profile can actually hurt you - your hostel could look closed, for instance.
How to keep your instagram up to date?
Well, at the very least, we recommend 1 post every 2 weeks. This is okay if you do not have the time at all.
Yet, since Instagram is so powerful and easy to use, we really recommend using it and update it regulary. Best would be to update your profile on a daily basis with stories, as an example.
5. The Posting Process
Last but not least, let us talk about the actual posting process. We have seen several great hostels doing a fantastic job. We have covered the mistakes we should avoid. Now, let’s get the phone out and practise.
1. Take or choose a cool photo
Your photo is the most important part. You know this by now.
If you are not confident or unsure what photo you could post, just have a look what previous guests may have posted. Maybe there is already a beautiful photo of your accommodation you haven’t even seen yet.
Check out your hostel name as a hashtag and your hostel location. People may have tagged you already hundreds of times.
I want to show you how to find the Instagram location of your hostel. Search for your hostel on Instagram. Your own profile, the hashtag and most likely the location should pop-up.
As an example I will take again Caveland in Santorini. Open a photo and check the smaller letters below the profile name. This is the location (see screenshot below). Click on the location and you hopefully find a bunch of photos of your place.
In our case: Caveland Santorini
Have a look and you will be impressed. Cute puppies playing around, beautiful boys and girls smiling into the camera around the hostel and sometimes the funny backpacker photos that make you smile.
Good to know: When using a guest's photo, remember to tag them accordingly and thank them for their photo. You should also ask beforehand to make sure the guest is ok with you using the photo. Side-note: The average user is usually ok with your sharing the photos. Bigger accounts may ask for money or something in return.
The photo is key, the text adds more value. Be informative and give a bit of information. No need to write half a book and overthink it. Keep it simple! You can throw in a simple question like „Would you like to hang out at the beach today?“.
I do not recommend to write half a wikipedia article. Sharp and snappy, please (pun intended) - Instagram is still about photos!
3. Relevant Hashtags
#Hashtags help users to find relevant photos. These are especially important to reach potential guests that are not yet following you. Use a maximum of 15 relevant hashtags.
Here are a few popular hashtag ideas:
Others you can adapt for your hostel, city and country:
Do you have a business account on Instagram? If so, Instagram gives you more relevant information to help you reach more users. You can find this information when visiting your Profile > Insights > Audience.
You can find relevant information about your audience like location, age range, gender, and the time your users are online! This means you want to post when most of your users are actually using the app.
Why is this important?
Top secret: When you hit publish, Instagram shows your photo to a part of the currently active users. If they interact with the photo in any way (like, comment, actually look at it for a few more seconds, share in private message, ...), the algorithm will show the photos to more and more users.
But: If no one interacts with the photo, the algorithm decides the photo is not as relevant and stops showing it to more people.
Example: if you have 10.000 followers and post a photo, the photo will be only shown to a fraction first. Let's say 5%-10%, therefore 500-1.000 users. These are your most-interacting followers and some others. If they interact, the Instagram algorithm shows it to more and so on.
Add a location to your post. You can mix it up between your city as a location and your hostel location.
6. Tagging accounts
In case you used a photo of a different user, make sure you tag and thank them. This is just fair plus people love it when you share their photos (again, make sure you asked them beforehand to be on the safe side).
Besides tagging the owner of the photo, you can tag along more relevant profiles such as your local tourism board, Hostelworld, Hostelz and others.
7. Use Stories
The last step that helps to reach more of your followers and other users is using the stories. Here you can share vertical photo stories and videos from your daily hostel life. Again, Caveland does a wonderful job here!
Our best recommendation: Create a story before you actually publish a regular Instagram post. The algorithm seems to like this.
Summary: How to use Instagram as a Hostel
Instagram is a marketing tool that should help you to fill your beds and rooms!
Use it the proper way and you will succeed. Take the time to evaluate and set goals. How else you can you reach your destination when you do not where you are going?
Therefore, have fun, share cool photos and be authentic.
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