User-generated content (UGC) is the latest marketing buzzword, and it has taken over the online marketing world. Savvy marketers are leveraging user-generated content to improve customer engagement and drive increased bookings and revenue.
So, What is User-Generated Content?
User-generated content is any form of content created and shared by your guests about their experience with your tours and activities. It comes in many forms— pictures, videos, social media posts, reviews, and testimonials. You can use UGC for marketing on any platform, including websites, social, and emails.
The latest statistics from the marketing world show that customers who interact and engage with UGC are more likely to convert. It means that consumer-created content is highly influential.
Another important aspect is that the constant stream of user-generated content, UGC, plays a significant role in SEO strategy. Fresh and updated website content is crucial in Google’s ranking criteria. So, UGC is a way to keep your website content fresh and boost Search Engine Optimization (SEO), securing a spot for your products and company on SERP (search engine results page).
Higher ranking increases your brand awareness, brings more organic traffic, and ultimately gets you more bookings. Best of all, you can save time on content creation when you have a library of UGC, which will be far more cost-effective than in-house content.
How to Leverage UGC to Get More Bookings
Before you get into the world of UGC, you have to understand why it is essential to use content from your guests in your marketing campaigns.
Think of any of your purchasing decisions which you were confident about. The chances are that you made the decision based on your friends’ recommendations or raving reviews. That’s the same way your guests behave. Recommendations from peers remain the most trusted form of the information above all types of brand messaging, offline or online.
UGC highly impacts customers’ purchasing decisions. For your future guests, UGC is authentic storytelling. They can easily relate to the voice and views coming from your existing customers.
Seeing actual travellers enjoying your tours and activities in real-world settings inspires them to book their spot, as well. Integrating UGC throughout their buying journey creates excitement and amusement much better than in-house content.
To put it simply, UGC is cost-effective, and it’s trusted.
The travel industry has arguably more to gain from UGC than any other industry. How can you make the best use of user-generated content to promote your tour and activity business?
Embed Reviews, Photos, & Videos on your Website
As the primary sales center of your tours and activities, your website should have the right elements to grab the attention of website visitors. Stories from previous guests are a surefire way to get your website visitors’ immediate attention and turn them from lookers to confident bookers.
Along with reviews, feature photos and videos from your guests on the home page and product pages. Instead of stock images or in-house marketing photos, let your potential guests take a peek into the fun your guests had. Got any review site badges? Display them prominently on your website.
Keep a gallery of photos and videos from your guests on the website and update it regularly. This shows your customers that you recognize and appreciate what they share, driving loyalty and engagement among future customers.
By embedding Instagram on its website, Prince of Whales created a gallery of images showing what their experiences really look like to the traveller.
Does your website have a blog? Capture customer testimonials and make them into a blog post. And remember to add CTA prompting the website visitors to book their tickets right away.
Use the Power of Social Media
Repost and share social media posts from your customers. Request your guests to tag your company when they share their experiences, making it easier to find the appropriate content.
Create hashtags that are unique and easy to remember. Encourage guests to use this specific/dedicated hashtag for your tours. They would be excited to use the hashtag for the opportunity to be featured on your company’s website or social media.
Here is an example of how Ziptrek is requesting its guests to use a specific hashtag to get featured on their page.
Incentivize guests by running a contest for the best-captured moments from the tour. The prize can be anything from a free pass to a discount for their next visit. Always provide them with clear guidelines on what kind of content you are looking for.
💡 Providing photo service to your customers helps you build a library of digital photos. Brand those photos (drop your brand name/logo on the pictures, visible enough for people to notice). When they share these photos on social media, the brand will reach new customers even if they forget to tag you.
Repurpose UGC in your Ads
As the digital ad space gets crowded, it is vital to stand out with eye-catching content. Incorporate UGC into your ads. It can be a testimonial or guest photos, or impressive customer-created videos. Stretch your creativity!
Engage and excite your travellers by featuring UGC on your email campaigns. Without being overly salesy, you can share stories and reviews from your guests, making subscribers curious enough to know more about your tours or even book their vacation with you.
How to use guest reviews: An example from Intrepid Travel’s email marketing campaign.
✅ Keep in mind that you need customers’ permission to use their photos on any platform. It’s best practice to tag them whenever possible. Do not forget to credit the original creator.
How to Collect User-Generated Content
Make it comfortable for customers to review your company. Send a follow-up email to your guests requesting reviews or photos of their experience. The timing of these emails is crucial. You should send them immediately after their trip when the memories of the experience are still fresh in them. Use your online booking system to set up automated review request emails whenever someone finishes their tour.
When it comes to collecting photos and videos from guests, it’s not always easy. Customers promise to send pictures or share them on social media, but they forget to do that. Sometimes they send you low-resolution photos, which may not be good enough to use.
For tours such as walking tours, guides can take photos using their phones and ask for guests’ permission to post them on social or on the website. But, in the long run, they may bump into the obvious trouble of keeping a large volume of content organized. It’s also challenging for guides to send them to the company’s marketing person.
One solution is to provide your guests with photo service, especially for adventure activities, as it is not easy for guests to take their photos while in action. Free photo packages will also add value to their customer experience.
You can rely on marketing platforms to streamline the process, keeping everything organized and automated. There are several such platforms available now. Here are some of the marketing platforms for you to jumpstart your collection of UGC (full disclosure: these are the ones which have integrations with the Zaui online reservation system).
Fotoflo: The photo marketing platform helps tour or activity businesses to simplify and automate the distribution of photos and videos to customers. You can use the Fotaflo Android or iOS app to upload and organize photos and videos. Later, send every customer a unique private link to their album. Simple and efficient delivery! When the guest shares these photos, it’s social word-of-mouth marketing for you.
Yonder HQ: A range of marketing and survey tools from Yonder automate much of the manual work that goes into collecting reviews and placing them on your website and social media. Yonder, when integrated with your online booking system, can automate review requests to your customers shortly after their experience. The simplicity of the surveys makes the reviewing process quick and convenient for your customers to share their feedback.
Yonder also makes it simple for those who rate you five stars to post on their preferred online review site. Yonder provides them with a copy button, prompting those who rate you five stars to post the review on their preferred online review site. Also, installing Yonder’s live feed of reviews will update your website with the latest 5-star reviews you received from various sources.
Bazaarvoice: The tools provided by Bazaarvoice can collect reviews and ratings effortlessly from all sources. Display these reviews on your website to boost your SEO. Constantly updating your website with content (in this case, reviews & ratings) can help your SEO as Google considers the quality and frequency of online reviews for ranking. Feeding fresh content keeps your website active and ranks you higher in search queries. Bazaarvoice ensures that the most compelling UGC is front and center with a mobile responsive website design that’s built for SEO.
Social media has made it easier to reach thousands of customers. But the truth is that now it’s harder than ever to grab their attention. The best way to win their trust is with engaging content, which often is content created by fellow travellers than the brand.
Sharing content online is a key part of the travel experience nowadays, and it’s a top travel research tool. Reviews on social media sites extend consumer engagement and give insider knowledge not available anywhere else.
So, do not ignore user-generated content. Integrate UGC—customer photos, videos, reviews and star ratings—into your marketing and advertising efforts. Feature honest guest experiences on the website, social media, and advertising campaigns and quickly connect with target customers.
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