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  • Writer's pictureTeam Reeler

Destination marketing: Tourist boards embrace user-generated content (UGC) to boost visitor numbers

User-generated content (UGC) displaying woman on a rock above a fjord in Norway

Welcome to our latest exploration into the world of travel and hospitality marketing. Today, we're diving deep into destination marketing, typically carried out by tourist boards. These tourism champions, ranging from national to regional and city-level tourist boards, are increasingly harnessing the potential of user-generated content (UGC) to allure more travelers to their destinations.

Join us as we uncover how UGC inspires visitors, reshapes destination marketing, and boosts regional visitor numbers.

So, concretely, what is the purpose of employing UGC in destination marketing?

1. Build trust

In the travel industry, trust is paramount. Visitors often seek validation from their peers. UGC serves as a powerful tool in building this trust. When travelers see others sharing their genuine experiences, it provides the reassurance they need to choose a particular destination. This trust directly translates into higher visitor numbers, as travelers are more inclined to choose a destination they trust.

For example, Visit Norway has been a trailblazer in leveraging UGC; they actively encourage travelers to share their Norwegian adventures, from awe-inspiring fjords to vibrant city life. By curating and showcasing this UGC across their marketing channels, Visit Norway effectively inspires travelers to explore this Nordic destination.

2. Inspire with authentic experiences

Tourist boards are entrusted with showcasing the very best of their destinations. UGC enables them to do this authentically, whether it's a hidden gem, a mouthwatering local dish, or a breathtaking view. By curating and sharing this UGC, tourist boards bring to life the real stories of travelers who have explored their regions.

As an example, VisitScotland initiated the "ScotSpirit" campaign, urging travelers to share their authentic Scottish experiences, from misty highlands to vibrant cities, using the hashtag #ScotSpirit. This kind of authentic content resonates with potential visitors, inspiring them to pack their bags and experience it for themselves.

3. Source content at a lower cost

With the multitude of destinations and attractions to promote within a region, it's difficult and costly to update all the visual content that is needed to inspire visitors. By engaging the tourists themselves in content production, tourist boards can produce more content, and content that's more engaging, at a very low cost. In theory, UGC could replace almost all photo shoots, slashing costs. Tourism Queensland's 'Best Job in the World' campaign showcased the power of UGC by generating a lot of very engaging content – plus 46,000 news articles worldwide. This remarkable media coverage, created at minimal cost, later inspired a nationwide campaign by Tourism Australia.

4. Showcase diversity

Destination marketers aim to cast a wide net, attracting visitors from different corners of the world. UGC allows them to achieve this goal effectively. It not only covers the vast tapestry of cultures, landscapes, and attractions that their region has to offer but also shows a diversity of travelers enjoying the region.

One example is Tourism New Zealand's '100% Pure New Zealand' campaigns, where UGC plays a vital part. Not only does the content display a variety of landscapes and attractions in New Zealand, but it also features a refreshing mix of travelers with different backgrounds and interests. This diversity speaks to a global audience, enticing travelers with a wide range of interests.

5. Engage the traveler community

Tourist boards can foster a sense of community among travelers by encouraging them to share their experiences. UGC challenges inspire travelers to become active participants in promoting the region.

As an example, Visit Dubai launched the #MyDubai campaign, where residents and visitors were invited to share their Dubai moments on social media. This campaign has to date generated over 30 million posts on Instagram, transforming visitors and residents into brand ambassadors, and building long-lasting relationships. This not only keeps the destination in the minds of past visitors but also encourages them to return.

UGC in destination marketing – conclusion

In an era where travelers seek exceptional, genuine experiences, destination marketers are poised to inspire visitors. UGC equips them to spotlight the essence of their destinations, cultivate trust, and expand their global reach. By embracing UGC, tourist boards and destination marketers can not only save on content production but also greatly boost visitor numbers – setting the stage for unforgettable journeys in their regions.

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