Stories that inspire: my travel bucket list

I remember growing up it was nearly impossible to get our entire family to decide on a destination. That’s because we all had different ideas of the perfect getaway. In the end, my mom usually called the shots. Today though, I’m calling the shots (sorry, Mom.)

Working at for two years now, I’ve seen countless guest stories that inspire me to travel. Below are just a few of my favorites that made my must-do bucket list.

Alyeska Resort – Girdwood, Alaska

“Ski day with a view! Beer apreś ski, who would say no?” — Marlene P.

Hit the slopes

I’ve only been skiing once, and it wasn’t pretty. However, when I took a peek at the stories from Alyeska Resort’s guests, I can’t help but want to give it another shot. Plus, Jeff, our CMO and seasoned skier, shared some of his pointers over so I’m feeling pretty confident about my new moves.

Turtle Bay Resort – Kahuku, Hawaii

“Where better to make family memories with our kids. If summer has to end, this was the way to end it.” — Christine B.

Catch a sunset

When I look at the guest stories from Turtle Bay Resort, I already begin to feel like I’m on vacation—they’re that inspiring.

Gunflint Lodge & Outfitters – Grand Marais, Minnesota

“I liked the fact that Gunflint took care of everything and provided first rate equipment.” — David B.

Canoe Gunflint

Gunflint is a place my entire family would enjoy (even my mom). I’d have to take a trip out to Judge C.R. Magney State Park and snag a few photos before taking these canoes out for a sunset ride.

Red Mountain Resort – Ivins, Utah

“I loved all the people we met, the staff and the variety of activities to choose from. My favorite day was the day we went canyoneering. It was so much fun!” — Lana F.

Explore Utah

If you asked me lately where I wanted to travel to the most, I probably said Utah. Its four national parks are a photographer’s dream and have been on my list to go since first taking up the hobby. This photo from Lana, a recent guest of Red Mountain Resort, is the exact view I want to capture.

Hotel El Ganzo – San José del Cabo, Mexico

“An amazing destination experience! Luxurious, sophisticated, quiet, calm and totally cool! Best view, sleep, breathing, dining, sunset ever! I cannot wait to go back – please hold a room for me.” — Jeanette G.

Relax in Mexico

Hotel El Ganzo is a creative and artistic getaway that looks right up my alley. The incredible views, pool, rooms, food and hospitality makes this an easy pick for me.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort – Kiawah Island, South Carolina

“We loved the family feel atmosphere, the service and personnel were fantastic. We will back again.” — Monica C.

Play a round

The perfect vacation wouldn’t be without a round at a pristine golf course. From what travelers share about their stay at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, I’m already looking up tee times.

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort – Newport, Curaçao

““I went diving for the first time with my newly padi qualified 16-year-old daughter and I took this picture. It was a lovely day!” — James R.

Swim with dolphins

Topping off the list would have to be a scuba excursion at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort. (I mean, what good is being scuba certified if I’m not diving with dolphins?)

While these stories have inspired my bucket list, they’re doing so much more than that each and every day for these hotels. They’re reaching warm audiences, and helping introduce entirely new audiences of travelers, (better than any stock photo could).

For more on our take on content, check out the video below:


Looking for more inspiration? Venture on to our last collection of stories that inspire. See any stories that stand out? Let us know!

Adventure back to June’s stories

Stories that inspire: our favorite guest moments from June

Every guest story is an opportunity for a hotel to unveil something new. Stories reach and inspire—they’re truly memorable, sometimes magical, and a lot of times, a bit of fun.

In a way, we’ve fallen in love with guest stories, and every day see firsthand the impact they’re making for hotels. That’s why we’re sharing them with you! Check out a handful of our recent favorites below:

Gunflint Lodge & Outfitters —Top June 2017

Gunflint Lodge & Outfitters – Grand Marais, Minneapolis

“You guys were absolutely the best at guiding 3 rookies through the beauty of the Boundary Waters !” — Jaime R.

Explore Grand Marais

Jaime and his crew might be kayaking rookies, but the friendly, knowledgeable staff at Gunflint Lodge made all the difference. Plus, Jaime has joined over 70 fellow guests in Gunflint’s current photo contest, helping tell compelling travel stories to over 40,000 friends and family members worldwide.

Banyan Tree Mayakoba —Top June 2017

Banyan Tree Mayakoba – Playa del Carmen, Mexico

“While at Banyan Tree we spent a day with a Mayan family. They showed us ruins, we cooked a meal with them, and Amy showed them how to take pictures with her phone–much to the delight of the adorable children.” — Larry S.

Become a local

Larry and his family wanted the full local experience when they visited Banyan Tree Mayakoba. Not only did they get the rich culture of Playa del Carmen, they captured memories like this one that will be cherished for a lifetime.

As for the staff at Banyan Tree Mayakoba, this delightful story helps shape insight into the local side for future travelers.

Beach Street Inn and Suites —Top June 2017

Beach Street Inn and Suites – Santa Cruz, California

“Having a great trip! Last trip as of a family of 3 before this little guy becomes a big brother in August! We highly recommend Beach Street Inn. It was our first stay and will definitely not be the last! We loved it…the location, the beautiful room and great customer service!” — Monica B.

Enjoy Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz has something to offer for all ages. Monica, along with 18 of her friends and relatives, shared to 907 friends and lead to 128 warm leads.

The Carlton Hotel —Top June 2017

The Carlton Hotel – Atascadero, California

“Super bloom wildflowers above Soda Lake create a technicolor world at Carrizo Plain National Monument.” — Sylvia D.

Take in the view

A peaceful moment captured during Sylvia’s stay at The Carlton Hotel speaks volume to the natural beauty that surrounds the property. She and her friends brought over 100 unique visitors back to the hotel’s site–the perfect demographic looking to escape on their next vacation.

Tanque Verde Ranch —Top June 2017

Tanque Verde Ranch – Tucson, Arizona

“Absolutely the best family vacation we’ve taken! For a short time, we were all able to leave our daily duties and enjoy a relaxing but engaging time together.” — Janette L.

Visit Tuscon

Janette, a recent guest of Tanque Verde Ranch, shared her favorite travel memory to a warm audience of adventure-loving friends. Tanque Verde Ranch is now at the center of a single story that has reached over 340 friends and relatives the perfect demographic for their resort.

Hotel Tybee —Top June 2017

Hotel Tybee – Tybee Island, Georgia

“Our kids were so excited to be at Tybee! They were “jumping for joy”!” — Kacie M.

Visit Tybee

Vacationers have escaped to Hotel Tybee for over 126 years! Now, after tapping into the advocacy platform for hotels, they’re telling a richer narrative to a massive, new audience of travelers. So far, 62 guests have shared their favorite moments to friends and family, reaching over 100,000 in just 12 days!

WorldQuest Orlando Resort —Top June 2017

WorldQuest Orlando Resort – Orlando, Florida

“We had such a great family vacation in Orlando. The service was 5 star, our condo was perfect. I seriously cannot say one negative thing about the hotel, it exceeded our expectations. And thank you for the shuttle service to Disney !” — Michael F.

Soak it in

A trip to Disney and exceptional service along the way is every reason to celebrate. Plus, you’re never too young to enjoy soaking up the sun poolside.

The Reef Coco Beach —Top June 2017

The Reef Coco Beach – Playa del Carmen, Mexico

“Beautiful sunrise at the Reef Coco Beach, doesn’t get any better than this!” — Dani M.

Relax a bit

What a wonderful way to start the day in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Dani was able to bring 274 unique site visitors back the resort’s site, leading to 32 warm leads that can be nurtured into future guests. Plus, her story joined 53 other finalists, all with unique stories to tell.

Check back next month for even more. See any stories that stand out? Let us know!

Adventure back to May’s stories

Share authentic guest stories in a snap

Authentic stories shared by your guests first hand provide the most candid and genuine insights into your hotel. With, we help you unlock these moments—experiences that resonate with travelers.


So what can you do you with it then? The boundaries are limitless, but first up—share it! This is real, relevant content that your followers want to see.

We’ve made this incredibly easy—it just takes a few clicks, all the while adding a bit of fun back in your day.

Plus, finding the perfect story to share is simple. Every story that your hotel receives is automatically fitted with descriptions and tagged during the curation process. Easily search, choose and share exactly what you want without the headache of manually organizing your guest-created content on your own.

Start inspiring travel by sharing your guests’ favorite moments. Future travelers learn more about your brand, and your hotel tells a richer story—without any heavy lifting needed.

Watch now: Impact of a story well told

We’ve shown you how to reach and inspire entirely new audiences of travelers worldwide with Now let’s see what happens when all that goodness comes together for Crystal Lodge, Adrift Hotel, Inn on Fifth and Turtle Bay Resort.


Sound interesting? Introduce your hotel to the world with Take a tour, or adventure on to see the impact of advocacy for more hotels below:

Watch now: Introduce your hotel to the people who matter most

Start delivering unique, personal experiences to everyone that visits your site, no matter who they are or where they’re from. You’ll reach a global audience of travelers that are a great fit for your hotel, while converting warm leads into your future guests—each and every day.


Sound interesting? Introduce your hotel to the world with Take a tour, or adventure on to see the power of a story well told below:

Adrift Hotel and Spa reaches over half a million through captivating guest stories captured with

Advocacy platform bolsters marketing and revenue, builds affinity, and inspires new guests for Pacific Northwest property

ORLANDO, FL — April 13, 2016Adrift Hotel and Spa, an eclectic boutique hotel in the heart of Long Beach, Washington, has tapped the advocacy platform to attract an enormous new audience of travelers, while enhancing their brand with compelling, authentic guest stories.


Since launching February of 2014, the property has seen tremendous success, and has since reached a new audience of over 500,000. This is in addition to converting over 4,000 warm leads for the hotel to nurture down the path to becoming a future guest, leading to thousands of booked room nights for the boutique hotel.

“The staff were all so friendly and welcoming. We loved the location and the proximity to the beach and trails. Our dog was spoiled with love and attention, can't wait to return.” — Sara A., past guest at Adrift Hotel and Spa
— Sara A., past guest at Adrift Hotel and Spa

“We’ve gained the attention of travelers worldwide,” noted Linh DePledge, Operations & Marketing Director for Adrift Hotel. “The advocacy platform has been key in driving and converting new guests, especially in the competitive Long Beach area.”

Adrift’s success on the platform can in large part be attributed to the implementation of Photo Explorer, a digital experience built to captivate and inspire new audiences of global travelers worldwide, while letting the hotel tell a richer story full of authentic guest experiences. The platform not only drives traffic and leads, but also captures hugely captivating guest content for the hotel to infuse into their online and other marketing efforts.

Adrift Hotel’s Photo Explorer turns memorable guest moments into highly engaging interactions with every type of site visitor.
Adrift Hotel’s Photo Explorer turns memorable guest moments into highly engaging interactions with every type of site visitor.

“The guest stories we’ve captured using have brought a genuine voice to our online presence, while boosting traffic from our ideal travelers,” DePledge went on to add. “Whether someone is looking for a dog-friendly property, a romantic getaway, or a place where they have the freedom to enjoy the outdoors, the platform has unveiled some incredibly fun, personable, and even heartwarming experiences. The quality of this guest-created content is second-to-none.”

Adrift Hotel and Spa creates unique experiences that cater to the individual, giving visitors a true sense of place. The platform uses advocacy to tap into these unique experiences, letting guests share everything from their excitement for an upcoming trip to the favorite moment of their stay with friends and family, tracking all traffic back to the hotel website. As guest networks are full of like-minded individuals often with similar tastes in travel, the platform is the perfect fit for independent and boutique properties like Adrift seeking to reach the right guest.

Content provided by guests is used in Adrift Hotel’s digital marketing initiatives, including their website.
Content provided by guests is used in Adrift Hotel’s digital marketing initiatives, including their website.

“Adrift Hotel have captured some of the most aesthetic and inspiring guest stories we’ve seen,” said Deborah Moses, Senior Director of Sales, Americas at “Most importantly, they’re real experiences from actual guests. They’re aspirational, but also attainable, which truly resonates with the audiences of future travelers they attract.”

Adrift Hotel is an eclectic, modern property with an urban-industrial vibe that borrows cues from the local peninsula landscape. The hotel offers a diverse range of packages, from clam digging, to beachside bonfires and even dog-friendly getaways. This is in addition to complimentary cruiser bikes to explore, locally sourced food and cocktails, and free live music nightly at their onsite restaurant, Pickled Fish. To reserve a stay, visit, or call 800-561-2456.

Watch now: Inspire a global audience

Something special happens when travelers discover your hotel through real experiences shared by friends & family. Capture these memorable moments and let your guests introduce your hotel to the world. You’ll inspire an entirely new audience of future guests with


Sound interesting? Introduce your hotel to the world with Take a tour, or see how to introduce your hotel to the people who matter most below:

Introducing: Photo Explorer (our first video!)

The need to make videos has become more apparent as our team and company continue to grow. Video will complement how we communicate our product, culture, and vision to the world. It’s a completely new arena for us, and I’m awfully excited that we’ve just jumped in.

We closely collaborated with our account team to better understand our customers’ needs, and narrowed in on what topics were right for us to get started. Of course, producing high-quality videos fast is crucial for a small startup team. After some help from The Startup Video Course, we were up and running in a couple of days.

In the end, here is what we made:


Be on the lookout for a ton more in this arena, from product updates, ideas and of course a bit of fun.

Also, word around the office is that a few other employees want to try their hand at voiceovers, so expect to see a few auditions, and possibly some bloopers along the way.

Take a tourorWatch next video

Advocacy behind the scenes: Nick Hotel

Advocacy has changed the game for how hotels develop and communicate their story to the world. But what does it look like to incorporate advocacy into your hotel’s day-to-day?

We connected with Deanna Padilla, Marketing Manager at Nickelodeon Suites Resort, to shed some light on this question—here’s what she had to say.

Nick Hotel on Branding

Michael Mathews: We can tell branding is important to your digital strategy. How important was it that could be seamlessly incorporated into your current site?

The Homepage Component is designed to fit into Nick Hotel’s current branding

Deanna Padilla: Our brand is important to us and our consumers, so being able to easily incorporate into our current site matching our brand standards is very important.

MM: Could you talk about some of the branding examples that were incorporated between your brand and’s platform (Homepage Component, emails, and certificates)? What has the value of the branded integrations meant for Nick Hotel and your guests?

DP: incorporated our brand colors within the homepage component and our hotel logo in the emails and certificates. This is a valuable detail to be able to incorporate the Nickelodeon brand with all of these initiatives. Plus, this also builds brand loyalty and engagement with the consumer.

Branding is consistent in guests’ certificates

MM: What advice would you give to other hotels when it comes to branding and messaging?

DP: Make sure your branding and messaging match, this makes your product more valuable, especially to your loyal customers. Branding truly builds advocates.

MM: How would you describe working with the team to incorporate these changes?

DP: has been a great partner to work with. The team was there step-by-step in getting photo advocacy up and running. It was a seamless process.

On the New Photo Explorer from

MM: Nick Hotel recently launched one of the newest features of, Photo Explorer. How would you describe using this piece of the platform (from set up and curation, to making changes)?

nick-curation-v2 photo curation makes it easy to rate and share submissions

DP: The setup piece was easy to complete. provided the necessary instructions for me to provide to our partners to update on their end on our behalf. Curation of guest photos is a simple and fun step, especially being able to see the property through the guests’ eyes.

MM: How much time out of your day do you spend on the platform?

DP: I spend about 10–15 minutes each day on the platform curating and sharing great photos on social media.

MM: How user friendly is the platform? What’s been your favorite aspect so far?

DP: The platform is extremely user friendly. A few touches, and you can share on your individual social media platforms.

Being able to share these experiences from the guests’ own personal photos on social has been a favorite of mine.

MM: Has there been anything that surprised you that you learned from the platform?

DP: Just how easy it is to manage, and also share on the hotel’s social media platforms. It’s a quick and easy process making posting more of a fun item than another work task.

MM: How has Photo Explorer helped in your overall marketing strategy?

Nick Hotel shares a submission on Twitter.
Nick Hotel shares a submission on Twitter.

DP: Photo explorer has increased our fan base on social media and will hopefully drive them to our website and lead to direct bookings.

On Advocacy

MM: How has changed your day-to-day?

DP: has added a nice addition to my day-to-day work tasks. I enjoy reading the guest comments and looking at the guest photos every day.

MM: What drove Nick Hotel to get started with, and using advocacy as part of your marketing?

Photo Explorer displays guests’ stories and experiences

DP: The opportunity for social sharing among our guests and their friends and their friends’ friends was a huge factor in deciding to participate in photo advocacy.

MM: What have you found most beneficial when making advocacy a core component of your revenue and marketing strategy?

DP: Definitely the number of sign-ups we have received from photo advocacy alone is outstanding. This has increased engagement on our social sites.

MM: What advice would you give other hotels who want to get started with advocacy?

DP: If you are looking to increase your social awareness and reach new audiences while building your relationship with existing fans, then photo advocacy is a must for your property.

Incorporating advocacy into your hotel’s long-term strategy will set your hotel up for success.

For Nickelodeon Suites Resort, integration was a snap. New features like Photo Explorer engage users with personalized interactions that are built in, so they have the right conversation with every viewer. Plus, a streamlined process and a bit of fun have been carried over into Deanna’s day-to-day tasks, making curation and sharing a breeze.

We love hearing incredible stories from our clients, so get in touch and let’s collaborate to feature your hotel in our next behind the scenes post.

See it live: how hotels are using Photo Explorer

Photo Explorer is an entirely new way for hotels to infuse authentic guest stories and candid perspectives into their online experience. The newest feature of our advocacy platform, it’s become an integral part of many hotel’s marketing and revenue strategy.

Check out how some of our current clients are using Photo Explorer, below.

Rekindle a favorite moment of a past guest

The Shores


See it live

Extend the time past guests spend with your brand. Rekindling their favorite moment is a far better way to keep in touch than pushing promotion after promotion, and you’ll have the opportunity to engage past guests in the right way for months after their stay.

Share experiences with a visitor learning about your hotel for the first time

Nick Hotel



New visitors may not be ready to book now. Present them with an opportunity to “show some love” for a favorite photo in order to receive a special incentive for a future stay, and start building a new relationship. This thoughtful interaction is relevant to their current travel considerations, and starts the conversation down the right path.

Over time, hotels convert curious onlookers into future guests with meaningful, relevant interactions as they envision the beginning of their own great travel story.

Receive warm introductions to friends, family, and colleagues of a past guests

Adrift Hotel

PhotoExplorer_Friend_Adrift PhotoExplorer_Friend_Dog_2_Adrift

See it live

Photo Explorer turns your guests’ memorable moments into highly engaging interactions with friends & family (and your brand). Greet your guests’ networks with a unique, distinct experience that builds a strong initial brand connection and starts them down the path to becoming a future guest.

Not only that, but your hotel has a richer story to tell thanks to the authentic perspectives and experiences that only your guests can provide.

Photo Explorer is a powerful, smart platform that drives and converts. With advocacy, hotels aspire to inspire—and aspirational selling is the key to winning in the new hotel marketplace.

If you’re curious how Photo Explorer can help your hotel reach new audiences like never before, learn more here or get in touch with one of our Advocologists and they’ll be thrilled to walk you through a live implementation.