Hotel chains have found a way to use various social media platforms to increase their visibility on the Internet in recent years, but two applications that have been particularly useful in this regard are Instagram and Pinterest.

A recent article in the San Jose Mercury news talks about some key examples of hotels leveraging the power of these social media tools to reach a boarder audience.

Starwood Hotels owns 1,150 properties across the world.  It’s estimated that Starwood guests capture and share an average of 40,000 images per month on Instagram.  Guests are encouraged to add photos of their Starwood experience to a guest gallery on the global photo-sharing app.

The biggest Instagram “pioneer” of the travel industry, however, must be the 1888 Hotel in Sydney, Australia.  This newly-opened boutique property has billed itself as the world’s first Instagram hotel, and even based some of its décor and services on the photo-sharing app.

In an effort to attract tech-savvy guests to these one-of-a-kind accommodations, the hotel offers a complimentary night’s stay to any Instagram users with more than 10,000 followers – guests with some major clout.  The hotel also dedicated a “selfie space” where guest can take photos of themselves, use the hashtag #1888hotel and see it appear instantaneously on screens near the reception desk.

Similar to the 1888’s title as the “King of Instagram”, the Four Seasons claimed authority on the photo sharing site Pinterest.  Their Pin. Pack. Go. feature allows a traveler to create boards pinned with photos of their ideal vacation and specific destination city.  A virtual concierge from Four Seasons will then offer a personalized recommendation and itinerary based on this Pinterest board.

Pinterest, Instagram and other forms of social media should not be considered a fad or passing trend as a form of online advertising for the travel industry going forward.  Both Condé Nast Traveler and the luxury travel company Cox and Kings predict that geo-locating mediums like Facebook and Instagram will play an increasingly larger role in the travel space in 2014, either as an advertising platform for hotels, or as a “Wish you were here” postcard by guests!

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