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(Photography by the talented, Tyann Marcink)

I’d venture to guess that many (if not most?) TDG readers have a Facebook account for their vacation rental business.

After all, Facebook has entered its teen years—it’s 13!—and over two billion people actively use the platform every single month.

We’ve had time to get comfortable with Facebook. We know how it works, what to expect from it, and (at least) the basics of how to use it to promote our businesses.

But what about Facebook’s younger, hipper sibling, Instagram? At just a spry seven years old, Instagram is still relatively new, and many VR owners, managers and Airbnb hosts have yet to dip a toe in. 

But let me tell you: now is the time to sign up for an Instagram account and use it to promote your vacation rental or Airbnb business.

Here’s why:

  • It’s the third most popular social media platform in the world, behind Facebook and YouTube, with 700,000,000 active users PER MONTH as of this summer.

And here’s a big one:

  • Instagram posts with a location tagged get 79% more engagement than posts without a location tagged.

Many of Instagram’s most successful posts and accounts have to do with travel.

Nothing breaks up a boring day at work or a long commute quite like scrolling through a feed of beautiful places (and beautiful people enjoying those beautiful places). 

Needless to say, the opportunity for vacation rental folks and Airbnb hosts—who by default have a cornucopia of beautiful places to photograph, right in their backyard—is enormous.

Still need some convincing? Here are a few tips to inspire you to get started.

1.  Make it Guest-Focused.

At the time of booking, I invite every single one of my guests to follow me on Instagram to see more pictures of my home, scope out some of my favorite beaches, learn about local customs, and more.

They key is to make sure guests know the Instagram account is all about them and helping them make the most of their upcoming trip, not about spammy self-promotion.

Once a guest follows you, chances are slim that they will ever unfollow—even months (or years!) after their vacation. Give them a great experience in your destination, and they’ll look forward to your photos and posts to help them relive their happy memories.

2.  Connect with Other Local Businesses.

Instagram is also a great way to get to know your own area and expand your local contacts. Discover restaurants, shops and businesses that you may not have known about! 

For example, one of my favorite stores in Kauai is @shophappyshack. They have fun, unique, locally made items that I love to share with my guests, and Instagram is a great way to do that.

While I was visiting Kauai with my family, I snapped a pic of myself wearing a pair of overalls from Happy Shack (that’s right, overalls are making a comeback!). They then shared my pic as part of a collage on their Instagram (that’s me on the bottom left, looking fly).

Once you establish relationships with other location businesses, you can tag each other, hashtag each other’s businesses, and share the promotional love. A win win!

3.  Creatively Encourage Guests to Participate.

If guests follow your Instagram account before their trip—and are active Instagram users themselves—then you are bound to get some free, fun advertising from them. After all, avid Instagram users know that location and travel posts get LOTS of engagement, as I mentioned above.

Leave a few props or a reminder at your vacation rental or Airbnb to help inspire your guests to get social. One of my favorite #hashtags for my vacation rental is #kauailove, so I had these adorable signs (plus a few others) custom made on Etsy for my guests to use during their stay.

Makes for a fun family photo, too!

Social engagement with your guests is crucial, and it’s only going to get more important as the world gets younger—and tech-savvy, travel-loving millennials get older, with more disposable income to drop on what they love.

Instagram is where this group lives. I highly recommend you consider jumping in!

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