One-liner description: We teamed up with Imperial Leisure, a creative marketing agency that works with hotels, to produce this article on the value of user-generated content for the hospitality industry.
User-generated content (UGC) is content that your customers share. With so many guests who are eager to share their experiences, UGC provides brands with an opportunity to listen to their customers’ feedback and to showcase some of the best content in their marketing.
This article outlines why sharing UGC on social media is a highly effective resource and why it works so well for hospitality brands.
UGC for the Five Stages of Travel
The five stages of travel is a framework that helps us understand the traveller's journey from initial interest to post-trip reflections. With 69% of people world wide using social media for travel-related needs, there are many opportunities for hospitality brands to engage their audience across all five stages of travel.
The dreaming stage begins the moment a consumer is inspired to take a vacation. 21% ofpeople are inspired by ads, social media, and other content at this stage. Users might be saving/bookmarking content they come across for future travel inspiration or they may be inspired to book a spontaneous trip.
- UGC opportunity: At the dreaming stage, nearly 3 in 5 travellers don't have a particular hotel or location in mind, so this is where we can think beyond the hotel and inspire with aspirational destination content. Beautiful settings that others experience can be highly influential for those dreaming about their next vacation.
The planning stage calls for memorable imagery that sets your brand apart. At this stage, audiences are open to influence and are looking for places to visit. They’ll be getting excited about their shortlists of places togo and things to do.
- UGC opportunity: 40% of millennials pick destinations based on how Insta-worthy their photos will be, so be sure to encourage users to tag your account when they share their content. This will result in more visits to your account, so your bio should also include the necessary information to make the guests’ planning process easier, including the email, booking link and the address.
At the booking stage, people have a good idea of where they want to travel to and what they want to enjoy on their holiday. They’ll be reading reviews, narrowing down the specifics and ultimately searching for value.
- UGC opportunity: Social media is listed in the top 3 resources that are used while deciding where to book, alongside search engines and online travel agents (OTAs). Users will be looking for content that gets them excited for their upcoming trip, so this is a great time to feature glimpses of experiences around the hotel, everything from the rooms, amenities, dining and little details.
Today’s content-sharingculture opens the door for you to interact with travellers while they’re actively experiencing your brand. These real-life moments take people beyond the digital experience of your brand. According to psychologist Dr Pam Rutledge, guests sharing their photos and videos with others can make their experiences more meaningful.
- UGC opportunity: This content is valuableas it shows the first-hand experiences of your guests. Encourage visitors and guests to share content by providing multiple opportunities that inspire themto record and create – for instance, hotel content can cover everything from breakfast buffets to facilities and room tours. Guests can also share their experiences in Stories and tag your brand, so keep an eye out for these asthey’ll only be visible for 24 hours.
Content from one travellermight just be the spark for someone else to start dreaming about a trip. Infact, 97% of millennials post on social media while on holiday. This presents brands with agreat opportunity to interact with their guests and visitors online and tocurate a social media feed that is diverse and authentic.
- UGC opportunity: At this stage, guestsand visitors are reminiscing about their stay and sharing content that showcases the highlights of their trip. Harness this opportunity as this is often the best content.
The Benefits and Valueof UGC for Hospitality Brands
According to the State of User-GeneratedContent report, consumers rate UGC as the most trustworthy content, and 62%say that they are more likely to click on UGC featured in ads, websites, social posts, or emails than imagery created by brands.
Yunus Akseki, director at Imperial Leisure, a creative agency for hotels says, “In our experience, UGC often outperforms professionally produced content, across all KPIs including conversions, awareness and engagement. For our hotel clients, UGC outperforms by a significant margin with some content performing up to 3x better than non-UGC. The same applies to our non-hotel clients, too.”
There are multiple benefits of UGC for hotel brands. It provides audiences with social proof which is an important psychological element in marketing as people have adesire to belong and enjoy seeing authentic experiences that they too can enjoy themselves. UGC also provides a diverse range of content for your brand, whichcan help to enhance your social media calendar with different points of view. Finally, sharing UGC is a great way to show appreciation towards guests and to build your online community.
Challenges of UGC forHospitality Brands
Rights management is the most important hurdle to overcome. Brands need to have a clear process for requesting permission. They need to document who has given permission, which permissions were given and how the content can be used. In addition, brands need to ensure that the legal terms are written clearly and are not excessive in what they ask for. Making mistakes with these requests can harm your reputation and leave you open to litigation.
Finding good and relevant content is not easy and brands need to dedicate time to separate the wheat from the chaff. This process is getting harder due to the restrictions Meta put in place following the Cambridge Analytica scandal – previously brands could use apps tosearch for, track and request content. Now they have to do a lot of that work manually – this can cause further problems if the platform thinks brands are spamming by posting too many comments and could even result in the suspension of their account.
How to Inspire UGC
Here are some steps you can take to inspire UGC
1. Be socially active: Regularly requesting and sharing the best UGC on your channels will inspire other guests to create their own moments and tag you. Guests like to see brands replying to guests’posts and this will encourage them to share their experiences with you.
2. Positive experiences: Focus on creating positive and pleasing moments that guests will want to share such as welcome gifts in the rooms and Instagrammable displays around the hotel.
3. Competitions: Contests can be a great way to generate UGC that you can use. Remember though around 5% of your entries will be good and you’ll have to offer an attractive prize to generate a high level of entries.
Level Up Your SocialMedia Game with UGC
UGC offers an authentic and diverse range of content that can significantly enhanceyour social media strategy. For hospitality brands, it's the ideal way toshowcase real experiences and engage with their audience at every stage oftheir travel journey. Make UGC a consistent element in your social mediamarketing for maximum impact.