User-generated content (UGC) means digital content created, uploaded and shared publicly online by consumers or end-users through pictures, videos, blog posts, discussion boards, product or service reviews, comments, tweets etc. UGC can initiate a conversation among unpaid contributors through popular social platforms that include the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and so many other social networks. So what does this all mean for your hotel and the possibility of encouraging bookings? Now-a-days just about everything!
Various studies have shown some compelling statistics:
- Neilson has shown that consumers look to recommendations from those they know for purchases 92% of the time.
- McKinsey has shown that word of mouth marketing generates twice as many sales as paid advertising.
- Tomoson has shown that, on social influencer marketing, ROI is $6.50 for every dollar invested.
- Reevoo showed that 72% of people searching out hotels would use UGC as a basis for their purchasing decisions.
- TurnTo Networks just released a consumer study that shows 90% of consumer purchasing decisions are based on UGC
Benefits of UGC for Hotels
In today’s digital world, no one can deny the impact of social media on companies, products or services provided. People share their activities, opinions and interests through the various social networks. UGC becomes an invaluable resource for hotels where these exchanges can create booking opportunities. Its benefits can be seen through:
- Authenticity & credibility: We have grown skeptical of traditional marketing content to make purchasing decisions because the source is the brand itself. Instead, more and more, the trend is to search out the opinion and comments from peers to make purchasing decisions. We want to hear from people like ourselves with authentic accounts about experiences.
- Personalization: Hotels get to have exchanges with guests or prospective guests where they interact with each other through the many social networks. UGC is unique in that it taps into consumer trust and relationship building. This is where brands learn what resonates with their target audience. So these exchanges create a meaningful interaction and encourage other guests to submit content.
- Cost benefits: The costs of traditional advertising and marketing campaigns are always a strain on hotel budgets. But the cost of content creation is included in this marketing approach. After all, the source is the user’s exchanges posted publicly through social networks.
- Re-purposing unique content: Users contribute new content all the time so information is always fresh. Hotels can re-purpose influencer content into blogs, web page copy etc. It helps the hotel marketing team keep content interesting and encourages users to stay engaged. It allows the hotel/guest relationship to develop beyond check-out.
- Social traffic increase: A social media influencer in the hotel industry has established credibility and has a large follower base. They don’t have to be celebrities. They can be bloggers or thought leaders. In all cases, their authentic approach can have an impact on consumer behavior. It wouldn’t be far fetched for consumers to be persuaded to listen to their views, appraise the information and check out your hotel site when considering a hotel booking. It would also be important to keep in mind that, in this digital age, millennials are the largest and most influential of all age groups. They are turning off traditional ads and looking to engage in real-time conversations with brand advocates for their purchasing decisions.
- Building SEO value: According to Kissmetrics, 25 percent of search results for the top 20 largest brands are links to UGC. Positive guest reviews can raise your SEO ranking. Also, gaining knowledge of the most frequently used words and phrases used by your audience can help your keyword optimization research.
- Audience insights and sales leads: Through UGC, hotel marketers can analyze exactly what content is being shared and helps understand what your guests or prospective guests find most engaging. This information can provide valuable insights that can help generate leads and increase sales.
In the end, it’s all about people – your guests, your followers, your brand champions – and their experiences, thoughts and mentions of your hotel. If your hotel hasn’t considered UGC within your marketing strategy, you will be missing out on the possibility of a great many booking opportunities.