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Starwood Is the First Travel Brand to Advertise on Instagram

Jan 23, 2014 9:00 am

Skift Take

Users don’t tend to like ads cluttering up their social network feeds, but Facebook and Twitter have already given it a shot and provide cover for Instagram, as well as comfort for brands like Starwood that are taking a chance on a new ad medium.

— Jason Clampet

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Starwood Preferred Guest

SPG's page on Instagram for the web. Starwood Preferred Guest

Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ guest loyalty program Starwood Preferred Guest has launched the first advertising campaign by a travel brand on Instagram. The ads begin today [Ed. Note: the ads begin on Friday, January 24] and run through February 4 across mobile and desktop on the photo-sharing service.

Instagram’s advertising platform uses existing images published by brands, but promote them within the feeds of users who aren’t following them.

Users can click on a button on each image to keep from seeing ads in the future, much like Facebook users can chose to ignore certain advertising messages in their news feed.

Abbey Reider, Associate Director of Social Media for Starwood Hotels & Resorts tells Skift, “The nature of Instagram is a natural fit for travel given the rich, visual nature of the content and the underlying desire to share travels and experiences with others.”

Starwood and its brands have have a relatively strong presence on the photo-sharing service. W Hotels and St. Regis have the first and fourth most followers, respectively, of any hotel brand tracked by SkiftIQ, and SPG is ranked seventh. W Hotels has the third most likes of any hotel brands, just behind Four Seasons and Ace Hotels, while its photos average 3.5 times more likes than those of the average hotel brand.

Hotel Brand Instagram Followers
W Hotels 36,928
Four Seasons 28,192
Ace Hotel 26,238
St. Regis 9,880
Sandals Resorts 8,689
Morgans Hotel Group 8,554
Starwood Preferred Guest 8,396
Thompson Hotels 8,280
Design Hotels 7,348
Marriott International 6,221

“Instagram is one of Starwood’s top performing social channels for engagement across all nine of our brands,” Reider says. “We receive 45,000 Instagrams per month tagging our properties. Instagrams that superficially tag #SPGLife have generated more than 350,000 likes from other users who saw their friend’s photo in their feed.”

The ads running on Instagram are being pulled from the company’s nine brands and link back to both SPG’s Instagram account and those of the individual brands. They’ll be using the ads to push the #SPGLife hashtag, as well as specific properties from its collection of over 1,200.

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