The age of Instagrammable hotels
With recent studies suggesting that almost half of millennial travelers choose their destination on how Instagrammable it is, should hotels be designing their spaces for social sharing?
What does it mean?
The adjective ‘Instagrammable’ describes how aesthetically pleasing something is and therefore it’s likelihood to create a good photo opportunity to be shared online, specifically on Instagram.
The demographic who have pioneered the words use and application are millennials, a group who are set to have the most spending power of any generation this year.
Although the concept of designing a consumer experience to create a socially sharable moment has been around for a few years, especially in restaurants, it’s now permeating into the world of design, with many architects and interior designers considering the Instagrammable nature of a space as starting point in the creative process.
What are the benefits?
Word-of-mouth marketing has long been described as the most powerful tool and nothing empowers this more right now than social media approval. Having moments, spaces and places within your hotel that provide an attractive photo opportunity allows you to create an army of social property ambassadors that endorse the hotel experience and share it with friends.
Consciously designing spaces and moments throughout the property encourages guest driven brand stories, which work as a powerful tool in the narrative. By having guests share images of your property and spaces, you are benefiting from free publicity and a greater online reach that will allow new potential guests to be exposed to the brand.
Even without specifically designing shareable spaces, monitoring what is being shared online allows you to understand the user mindset and gain insightful customer feedback. If it’s important and interesting to the guests, then it should also be important to you.
How do you do it?
Beautiful balcony views, jaw-dropping bathrooms, statement staircases and rooftop pools each feature in the top 10 of the Mobile Travel Tracker report from Hotels.com. As much as these are all beautiful features for any property, what can you add without a complete refurbishment or relocation?
One of the first decisions to weigh up is where you want to direct the guests to take shareable photos; rooms design vs public spaces. Many properties are opting for a more functional approach to the rooms and then creating Instagrammable moments in the public spaces, such as the lobby.
Think of unique features you can add that both match your brand ethos and property design but add something eye catching that guests can interact with. Statement art, innovative lighting, interactive walls, active seating, contrasting colours and host city heritage are all good starting places, but remember that there is no simple answer here if you want to be truly unique. You have to think outside the box to give the guests something they’ve never seen before and that they think will impress their online following.
Should you do it?
Yes. The power of social media is undeniable and creating spaces that improve your online brand awareness and strength should always be adopted. It doesn’t have to involve drastic changes to your property design, but can be done efficiently in all manner of ways.
Some have raised the questioned whether rather than an Instagram-first mentality, the aim should be to create beautiful and striking spaces and moments, irrespective of whether the customer demographic intends on sharing an image socially.
In a recent interview with Commercial Interior Design, Paola Mantello (PM), executive director for interior design, design and technical services, luxury - MEA, AccorHotels, explained:
"While a growing number of guests, millennials in particular, are looking for interesting and impactful areas in a hotel, I believe this is best accomplished through striking design, art display, interesting furniture and floral arrangements. It is more about creating an area or space worthy of a selfie than with selfie area in mind as that can undermine the flow and the synergy of the design. Some of our brands are in itself extremely ‘Instagrammable’."
The key lesson in having Instagrammable places and spaces is to understand what it is within your hotel and brand that guests already love sharing, and then encourage more of it. If you’re looking to refurbish in the near future then it is always worth considering the aesthetic of a feature that would lead it to become more Instagrammable.
Actively trying to control the guest narrative and then harness the power of social sharing and approval is not just an added benefit nowadays, it’s essential in staying relevant in the ultra-competitive hospitality industry.