How One Airbnb Owner is Killing it on Instagram and What You Can Learn From Her

or a picture says a thousand words




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the beach lodge on 1 chic retreat

I know I’m a bit late to the game, but Instagram marketing has finally reached my radar.

I know, embarrassing right? Until 2016, I was primarily a Facebook and Twitter user, but now that I’ve added Instagram, I actually have to set a timer on my desk so I get off the darn thing; otherwise I keep scrolling and my productivity takes a serious hit.

Instagram is addicting.


Because it’s visceral in a way no other social media platform is. Much more than a site of pretty photos, Instagram is artsy and experiential; your imagination is set on fire with people’s moments and spaces on a more human and relatable level.

Topping 500 million monthly users, Instagram has become an insanely effective marketing tool for vacation rental sites, such as Airbnb, VRBO, Home Away and No surprise there. According to Inc, humans form their first impression in a mere 50 milliseconds. It’s hard to resist dreamy images of far-off (or not so far off) homes in which to unwind into decadence.

Even more noteworthy is that individual Airbnb and vacation rental owners are increasingly using Instagram to get a leg up on competitors. They’re “branding” themselves using the power of imagery.

The best vacation rental Instagrammers inject some lifeblood into their images, or as I like to call it, wabi-sabi, a Japanese expression for ‘perfection is imperfection.’ A slightly undone quality yields an element of dreamy imperfection and reminds the viewer that there’s an authentic humanness to the home. An unmade bed, for instance, might not go over well on a listing site but could get hundreds of ‘likes’ on Instagram.

Last year, one Instagramming Airbnb owner, in particular, caught my eye.

In a big way.

At first scroll, I took notice because the house is stunning. Like 10 out of 10. As in cannot get any better, no improvements possible.

the beach lodge on 1 chic retreat

The Beach Lodge on Instagram

But then I saw how many followers she had. Whoa!

25,000?! Whaaaattt?

Just so you know, the more followers you have on Instagram, the greater your exposure and the likelihood of getting more followers.

What in the heck is this vacation rental Instagrammer doing to get so large a following?

I decided to find out….

Introducing The Beach Lodge

Before I say anything about The Beach Lodge in Hollywood Beach, California, it’s important to understand something about its location. Hollywood Beach contains one of the densest vacation rental neighborhoods in the state. I know because I live nearby and have rented several beach homes there over the years.

The majority are either dedicated vacation rentals or second homes rented out to tourists when the owners aren’t there (which is most of the time).

Despite the stiff competition, The Beach Lodge’s owner, Tiffany, has managed to book up a solid 4 to 6 weeks in advance. In the low season. She’s even managed to book the entire month of January, the lowest of the low season here in central California.

I think Instagram has something to do with it.

Tiffany has a jaw-droppingly gorgeous house that she renovated in 2015. It was a 1971 eye-sore before she reimagined it and turned it into a vacation rental. Since it’s inception, she has Instagrammed the heck out of it, slowly but surely gaining followers in the process.

Tiffany posts images of The Beach Lodge several times a week; each beautiful shot seems to involve epic relaxation, like sleeping in, binge watching TV shows, hanging out on the patio, eating exotic cheeses, reading bestsellers. Strategically changing around curiosities, pillows, and textiles (Tiffany loves tribal fabrics) as well as staging for the seasons and holidays, The Beach Lodge’s photos always look fresh, despite the fact that Tiffany photographs the same rooms over and over again.

That’s right. The same rooms over and over again.

Merely through Instagramming, The Beach Lodge has been featured on Front + Main and Domino. Most impressively, The Beach Lodge caught the attention of the Venue Report and won the ‘Best New Venue Award of 2016.’

Let’s take a look at a few of her 400 plus images and deconstruct why they’re working.

(By the way, if you find yourself coveting any of Tiffany’s finds, go to her Instagram page and click on the item. A pop-up appears with the buying source).

the beach lodge on 1 chic retreat

Tiffany’s caption entices the viewer with, “The best part? We get one more day like this. 😎🌴🍹🌮🌊🌞” The Beach Lodge on Instagram

Why the image works: It’s a beach house, right? So guests want to know they can enjoy the patio when not on the beach. This isn’t just any old patio however; she’s got bright pillows, a boldly patterned rug, a table on which guests can set cocktails. Life doesn’t get much better than this.

the beach lodge on 1 chic retreat

Pointing out that her Airbnb is indeed family friendly, Tiffany says, “Proof that the Beach Lodge has fans of all ages! !!! : The Beach Lodge on Instagram.

Why the image works: People love babies and are more inclined to like photos with babies in them. Period. Secondly, the photo shows prospective guests that The Beach Lodge is family friendly. The fact that the dining table is in the background tells young families that babies can play on the clean floor while they eat in peace. Think about how many Millennials are becoming parents and the fact that their generation are the primary drivers behind Instagram. Winning marketing!

the beach lodge on 1 chic retreat

Tiffany says, “We have a young guest turning 12 this weekend, so, of course, we’re gonna surprise her with flowers and sweets! We are always so extra flattered when people choose the Beach Lodge for special occasions like an anniversary or a sweet 16 sleepover. It’s an event that normally gets stored in the memory bank after all! So we like to make sure we do everything we can, so that it makes it into a special section in your mind, one that you like to bring up in thought once in awhile and just smile. (Plus, I’m a super cheesy, people pleaser ).” The Beach Lodge on Instagram

Why the image works: Showing your guests that you care about them is the golden rule in the hospitality business. The fact that Tiffany buys fresh flowers and a nice birthday gift for an incoming guest makes her instantly likable (and trustworthy). Adding that she’s a people pleaser is genius marketing because it’s authentic, not canned.

the beach lodge featured on 1 chic retreat

Reminding guests that the house is family friendly, this photo of a porthole window is especially appealing to kids. Caption says, “The littles have their own special views at The Beach Lodge. “ The Beach Lodge on Instagram

Why the image works: An artsy, unexpected photo hooks viewers in and activates their imagination. Tiffany is showing us that (yay!), the beach is only a 3- second walk away while also reminding us that kids get their own porthole windows. Hard to resist.

oxnard vacation rental

Don’t you want to step into that photo, get under those covers and watch The Crown? I do. Tiffany understands. She says, “So, I’ve got my reading materials and TV remotes ready to go for #StayInBedSunday ; Now, where the heck are my glasses?!? ” The Beach Lodge on Instagram.

Why the image works: Tiffany understands that a single shot of a perfectly made bed can be boring, even if the room is beautiful. She shakes it up by staging the bed for reading, watching TV, or sleeping in, thereby allowing viewers to better understand the vibe of the bedroom. Winning!

the beach lodge on 1 chic retreat

Tiffany does not hold back on decorating The Beach Lodge for the holidays, thereby reminding her prospective guests that they’ll be surrounded by holiday merriment in December. Her caption:During the holidays, many parents participate in the tradition of Elf On A Shelf. Me… I prefer to play Pom Pom Basket On A Shelf ORRRRRR, the ever popular Deer On A Shelf! Which one is your favorite Shelf Game during the holidays?  ”  The Beach Lodge on Instagram.

Why the image works: Tiffany decorates for every holiday – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Cinco de Mayo, Hannukah, Christmas, New Years – and December is no exception. Photographing holiday decoration reminds people that The Beach Lodge is a great place to spend the holidays.

the beach lodge on 1 chic retreat

Tiffany announces to followers of an unexpected three day weekend vacancy, “Are you needing a little mini vaca? Well you’re in luck, cuz the trifecta weekend of Oct. 14-17 has just opened up! DM me to take advantage of this good fortune! ✨ The Beach Lodge on Instagram

Why the image works: Tiffany asks all guests to follow her on Instagram before they even arrive and they continue to follow her afterwards. When they see posts like this, they might be likely to book her house again. Instagram is great for rebookings!

How to mimic The Beach Lodge’s success on Instagram

#1. Decorate fabulously so people want to follow you. One way Tiffany’s house stands out from her competition is having a bright, fresh interior, with intense splashes of color, using art, textiles, rugs and pillows. If you look closely, her furnishings are mostly neutral under all the pillows and throws. Read this step by step article on how to do that.

#2. Tag, tag, tag. You can never do too much of it. It’s how people find you on Instagram in the first place. BUT (and this important), don’t do it in your primary paragraph. People find it distracting. After you phrase your initial comment, hit enter, and then enter a hashtag extravaganza. Tiffany uses these hashtags, among many:

thebeachlodge#beachhouse #bohostyle#finditstyleit #midcenturymodern#bohemianmodern #bohemianstyle#beachhousedecor #airbnb #coastalstyle#Jungalow #coastal_living #vrbo#globaldecor #TheVenueReport#sodomino #MyDomaine #FoundForaged#apartmenttherapy #designsponge#HomeWithRue #MyCovetedHome#MyOKLStyle #InteriorDesign#IHaveThisThingWithTextiles#StyleMavenMe #Jungalowstyle#currentdesignsituation #DotAndBo#MyHouseBeautiful #SimplyStyleYourSpace. 

Why do you tag? People look for images via other power players. When you hashtag, anyone looking for anything similar to said hashtag will see you. For example, Tiffany always tags Airbnb. Anyone looking for all things related to Airbnb will see her fabulous house.

#3 Attribute all the things you buy to its source. Tiffany gives credit where credit is due. For example, many of her accessories come from Dot and Bo and she always credits them when appropriate with a @dotandbo. It’s like free advertising for Dot and Bo. Here’s the good part: Dot and Bo returns the favor and regrams Tiffany’s post, whereby The Beach Lodge gets a ton of Dot and Bo’s followers to her page. It gets even better: Dot and Bo decided to feature The Beach Lodge on their website. When they did that, Tiffany gained thousands more followers. Marketing can’t really get better than that.

Kinda genius, right?

the beach lodge on 1 chic retreat

Dot and Bo, one of the accessory lines Tiffany used to decorate The Beach Lodge, featured her on their website. “Holy crap you guys, look what I found in my email box today!!! !!! As the focus of the Dream House Series, Dot & Bo has taken the guess work out of creating your own version of the Beach Lodge, recommending some of their amazing collection of furniture and accessories. Check it out; even I might need to do some shopping ! Link is in the profile. ✌️ The Beach Lodge on Instagram

#4 Post at least once or twice a week. The more posts you have, the larger your audience becomes. The Beach Lodge has clearly demonstrated that people don’t get tired of seeing your fabulous pad. As long as you keep your photos original, there are hundreds of ways to photograph a table, bed, kitchen, foyer, or other feature of your vacation rental. The possibilities are sky high.

#5 As soon as someone books your place, ask them to follow you on Instagram. They will continue to see your posts well after they check out and are much more likely to book with you again. And again and again and again.

That’s it, folks

Now that you know everything there is to be successful on Instagram, it’s time to get to work. Let’s follow Tiffany’s lead and forge ahead.

By the way, as long as we’re on the subject of Instagram, we recently started a 1 Chic Retreat Instagram page. Do us a favor and follow. You’ll see our original work, as well as more decorating ideas geared for vacation rentals.

And if you already have an Instagram account for your vacation rental, congratulations! You have already taken the bull by the horns. Do us a favor and post it in the comments section below so we can check you out!

Happy Instagramming!

  • Excellent example here in my opinion of Instagram — wish we could measure the traffic that she is able to drive to her Airbnb listing. That could be valuable data to see when certain posts drove the most traffic from Instagram –> Airbnb listing.

    Quick way to do that would be to add in a custom link to your Airbnb listing, then you can easily see stats based on traffic source and date.

    Thanks for sharing, Mercedes.

    • Thank you, Conrad! What an amazing idea and something I didn’t know you could do. You hear that everyone?! :)

      • If you want to get *really* fancy, you can setup a custom domain so that it looks branded — perhaps the name of your property or similar. For example, I have my brand name .link for sharing links on social media and in my opinion it can help the link appear more appealing for the guest/customer to visit.

  • As always Mercedes, your posts shine light on great ideas to improve our vacation rental business. We had created an Instagram account a while ago but didn’t do anything with it because we didn’t know what to do with it. lol

    We’re going to start instagraming shortly. :)

    Thanks for another excellent post!

    • Let us know what your instagram handle is and I’ll follow you there and now that you know how to use it to your best advantage, your followers will follow.

  • Eleven09

    I’ve plunged into the world of Instagram with my new vacation rental. These pointers certainly give me some new ideas for future posts! Follow me on IG @eleven09house! :-)

    • Just followed you, Eleven. I love your ceiling lights with the three pendants!

  • Thank you for this. Great comments and so inspiring. Also, Conrad’s idea is really good. I love it when techy people explain how to use something like a URL shortener to learn whats kicking up a storm.

    • Thanks Nick! Yes, Conrad is quite helpful on something I had no idea you could do. Happy New Year and hope to follow you on Instagram soon. :)

  • Thanks Kim! I always appreciate your supportive words! Happy New Year!

  • Passepartout Homes

    Instagram is for us at Passepartout Homes the fastest growing social media channel in terms of number of followers and interactions. Quite disappointingly, however, the number of automatic likes and auto-generated comments is also increasing, some of which are irrelevant or even inappropriate. I do understand why someone would choose auto-generated comments. After all we are all busy. Auto-generated comments are however not flattering and do us little favour. Do you also get auto-generated comments on Instagram?

    • I don’t get many of them, but 1 Chic Retreat is fairly new to Instagram so it may only be happening primarily to those with larger followings.

  • Very inspirational post Mercedes. Thank you! I’ve had an Instagram account up for awhile focusing more on the beauty of the Sonoran Desert surrounding our rental home than the house itself. Tiffany has shown that sending subtle messages though Instagram property photos makes a lot of sense. Artfully done. Thanks!
    Have also just started following you and thebeachlodge to keep the inspiration flowing.
    – Mark,

    P.S. – I agree, it is all too easy to lose a great deal of time browsing on Instagram. Now I have to carefully allocate time to beautiful houses as well as my daily dose of dogs and puppies. :-)

    • Glad you got a lot out of the article, Mark! Good luck with your Instagramming!

  • Paradisepalms Jamaicavilla

    Another top notch post from a brilliant mind, Mercedes.

  • MIR

    Top notch article. I read it yesterday for the first time and jumped into instagram immediately to promote my property. Thank you so much for sharing, Mercedes. It would be awesome if you followed me on Instagram: ishqbeachlodge

    • We just followed you, Carlos and look forward to seeing your posts. By the way, what a great shade of blue you chose for the windows!

      • MIR

        Thank you, Mercedes!
        The shade of blue you speak about is what I chose with the naked eye after looking at hundreds of pictures from the blue shades & hues used in the Greek Isles. I spent some time in Ios & Santorini myself. I found a supplier of paints that makes this particular blue. I am using a paint marketed & sold as: “Blue Laser” by LANCO paints. A different manufacturer had a very similar tone & sold it as “Ships at Sea”. I am using oil based paint mostly because it’s ideal for tropical environments. You can find it in acrylic versions too.

        • I’m going to tell a current client to use “Blue Laser” then. We were looking for a Mediterranean blue and this is just the fit! Thanks for the tip!

  • Amanda Hart

    Great article. Thanks! I’ve followed The Beach Lodge for a while as I adore their style, so it was interesting to read your thoughts on their strategy – 25k is amazing! Our airbnb is based in Cyprus and I’m already enjoying the community that we are meeting by promoting it through instagram (villa_meraki)




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