Is your hotel integrating user-generated content into digital marketing strategies?

When is the last time you took a trip and stayed for a week away in paradise? Did you look at fancy brochures and decide on your dream vacation? Or did you make your decision off a beautiful photo on your cousin’s Instagram account and glowing review of their 5-star accommodation?

If you said the latter, then you are not alone.  A whopping 51% of people say they trust the opinions of their friends/family over what they are seeing in the media.  This makes photographs of the above or user-generated content (UGC) a super powerful tool in a hotel’s marketing campaign arsenal.

What is UGC?

User-generated content or UGC for short is simply any content that your guests make and share about your hotel. So that picture your cousin took that inspired that holiday in the above paragraph is UGC. Any videos made in a hotel swimming pool, even the reviews that are shared on TripAdvisor are also considered UGC. It is today’s updated word of mouth strategy, conducted with our mobile devices.

Marketing your hotel these days needs to include user-generated content if you want to have successful advertising campaigns.

Why should hotels use user-generated content?

One study has found that just under half of the people who travel use the experiences of others to book their holiday.  Customers seemingly care more about peer reviews than they do about professionally designed advertisements. “It’s wrong to assume that only professional photographs and sleekly designed brochures attract the most guests. It is a combination of professional advertisements and user-generated content.

Without UGC, your business suffers” says Vilma Royal, a marketing expert at Writinity and Last Minute Writing.  Service, which hotels rely on the most, depends on word of mouth and reviews. People don’t tend to believe the brochure’s claims of ‘excellent service’. However, they will trust the feedback of other people, who have stayed at the hotel and had a great experience.

UGC costs you, the hotel almost nothing.  You were probably already providing top-notch customer service or the little extras, like a beverage while you are waiting to check-in. The poolside bar that you can swim up to and order a drink existed before that guest’s picture. A customer who shares a picture or writes a message on social media about your amazing hotel service is doing free advertising for you. Even a dreaded negative review on TripAdvisor can be spun into a positive with a quick apology and a solution that shows the hotel cares.

How should hotels make use of UGC?

It is important to note that user-generated content need not replace your marketing campaign, but it should enhance the professional marketing material. “Research tells us that when customers see both professional content and user-generated content, their brand engagement increases by 28%,” says James Andrews, a hospitality blogger at Draftbeyond and Researchpapersuk. The more customers are participating in brand engagement, the more profits your hotel will see.

There are several easy ways to get UGC from guests.  The first step starts with encouraging your guests to share their experiences of their stay at your hotel. You can create a hashtag that your guests can use when posting their photos on their social media accounts.

Social media contests also help generate shareable content online. It doesn’t have to necessarily be extensive but a prize to the winner, like a free meal in the hotel’s restaurant could be a great incentive for sharing content. Also, pay attention to influencers.  Getting them to stay at your hotel is no joke, some of them have millions of followers, and if they come and stay, your hotel has the potential to see a boom in business. Don’t forget to monitor your use of UGC to keep track of how well it’s doing.

User-generated content is necessary for any hotel marketing campaign. Gone are the days where people look at advertisements and believe what they see and hear.  They want an insider’s look at what it is really like staying as a guest in your hotel. UGC offers this look and utilized correctly can help bolster guest interaction with your brand and increase your hotel’s profits.

Ashley HalseyAshley Halsey, a professional writer at Oxford Writing Service and Gum Essays has been involved in many projects throughout the country. When she is not busy attending business training courses, she enjoys reading, traveling, and taking care of her two children.

Related article: How to Integrate User-generated Content Into your Hotel Marketing

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About Are Morch

Hi, I am Are Morch. Your Digital Marketing Coach and Customer Experience Expert specializes in creating effective digital customer experience offer for hotels while growing and scale customer acquisition and revenue.

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