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Instagram Content Analysis: Luxury Hospitality 2016

Matt Peters
July 17, 2016

Luxury hospitality brands like Banyan Tree, The Ritz-Carlton, and Four Seasons have no shortage of amazing destinations to share with consumers. Who doesn't want to spend a week among the turquoise waters and white sands of the Maldivian atoll of Vabbinfaru? Or sip high-end cocktails 1,588 feet above Hong Kong at the highest bar in the world?

Put AI To Work For You

These brands work hard to to ensure their Instagram presences convey the beauty and majesty of their destinations and offerings. After all, when you're charging thousands of dollars a night, even your marketing content can't be second-rate.

So I asked our artificial intelligence platform to dig deep into the luxury hospitality industry on Instagram so content marketers can understand what types of content works (or doesn't) for their brands. I've compiled the results below in the hopes that the content marketing community can build on these findings.

For this study, our A.I.-for-content-marketing platform considered the following luxury hotel brands:

  1. Banyan Tree
  2. Belmond
  3. Fairmont
  4. Four Seasons
  5. Mandarin Oriental
  6. Peninsula Hotels
  7. Rosewood
  8. St. Regis
  9. Taj
  10. The Ritz-Carlton

All the Colors of the Rainbow

luxury hospitality

Color was the first thing I looked at. Most Instagram posts, of course, contain many colors. But as content marketers, we're not interested in all of them. We're interested in the ones that matter to the success of our content. Out of all the possible colors in the rainbow, is there a color that clearly drives better engagement rates on Instagram for luxury hospitality brands? The answer is yes, and it's Medium Aquamarine.

Here are some pieces of luxury hospitality marketing content featuring this color:

Intuitively, many content marketers probably already know this. After all, this is the color of the kind of tropical water that makes you want to quit your day job and move to a hut on the beach. But it's great to have hard numbers supporting this conclusion when making business decisions and when validating those decisions to bosses.

And this color isn't just slightly better. Controlling for any other content features, images featuring Medium Aquamarine perform 52% better than average in engagement rate across the entire luxury hospitality industry.

While posting images of exclusively one color would be taking this finding to the extreme, taking advantage of color trends like this one can make a huge difference in business outcomes. For example, if a medium-sized luxury hospitality brand like St. Regis had significantly increased their use of this color in their Instagram content, they could have engaged with up to 41,000 additional consumers so far this year.

To immediately see a boost in engagements, content marketers in this space should search their content libraries for tropical oceans, beaches, pools and other content with this color. Another easy step to optimize your content would be to consider this color as an alternative background color to your brand-standard colors when including text in your images. Also be aware of any of your destinations that use this color in their infrastructure, such as The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach whose beach umbrellas and chairs use a color very close to this.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Luckily for content marketers in the luxury hospitality space, color is just one of the many things we can choose to optimize. Another area of optimization is image elements - the "main objects" in an image.

While creating this report, I took an office poll to see what our guess was as to the best performing image elements. Almost everyone thought something like "beach," "water," or "ocean" would be the best performer.

Turns out we were all wrong.

Across the luxury hospitality space, the best performing image element was "Palace." In fact, images featuring palatial buildings and structural elements outperform average engagement rates by 30% across the industry. It's seems that opulence and majesty still resonates with the global affluent consumer. Here's a look at some content featuring this type of imagery:

Once again, marketers have an opportunity to engage with more consumers without upping their ad budget. As with color, optimizing image elements can produce a significant business impact.  If a luxury hospitality brand similar in size to Shangri-La were to have optimized their image elements so far this year, they could have engaged nearly 32,000 more consumers with one tweak to their content strategy and no additional cost.

For luxury hospitality marketers looking for an immediate optimization from this data, search your content libraries for images from your largest and most classical hotels and locations. For Four Seasons, this might be Istanbul. For Penninsula, take a look at Chicago.  For future content, use this to inform local photo shoots focusing not just on the palatial aspects of your property, but also on the fantastic architecture of the city that property is in.

Combining this optimization with the color optimization above means medium-sized luxury hospitality brands are within easy reach of hundreds of thousands of additional quality engagements per year if they know even a few simple, data-driven content changes to make.

So What Doesn't Work

No analysis of a content marketing landscape would be complete without understanding what common marketing practices simply don't work. So, after our system identified the optimal color and image element above, I turned it on its head and asked our AI the following question: "What is an image element that the luxury hospitality industry uses frequently that doesn't work very well?"

luxury hospitality

The answer will surprise many of you: "people."

Images that prominently feature one or more people perform 18% worse than the industry average. Even images like the one to the right that feature the optimal color (the Medium Aquamarine dress on the left) still slightly underperform because of the presence of people in the image.

This is something that luxury hospitality brands should keep in mind when creating content designed for social channels; especially brands like Mandarin Oriental (hint hint) who feature people in nearly half of their Instagram images.

Final Thoughts

For content marketers looking to increase their results, or marketers worried about organic content going to zero, lean on the data. Either by doing your own analysis or by partnering with A.I. platforms like ours, maximizing returns with data-driven content changes is possible and often very cost-effective. The best brands are using data to inform their content strategies already.



Using neural networks, our A.I. platform identifies over 50 different features of what's in a piece of marketing content - things like colors (of 256 total possibilities), image elements, image resolution, time of post, channel, hashtags used, and more. Using machine learning, our platform then finds the patterns among those features to be able to predict the success of various types of marketing content, channels, and deployment strategies for brands.

To create this study, we tapped our platform's database of over 140 million pieces of marketing content to find all of the image content shared on Instagram over the past year by the 10 brands selected.

Using these images, their A.I.-identified features, and their marketing performance, we're able to immediately know if any of those fifty features impact performance across the entire set of brands. For this report, we shared two of the most visual and easy-to-understand results.

If you'd like to learn about our full set of recommendations for luxury content marketers or are curious about this technology:

Learn More

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