How hotels reinvent their content marketing with UGC to boost credibility – and reservations
Welcome to our latest exploration into the future of marketing. Today, we're focusing on the hotel industry and how it is reimagining its content strategies to focus more on authenticity and building brand communities. Hoteliers, from independent boutique hotels to global chains, are increasingly recognizing the potential of user-generated content (UGC) to captivate travelers and drive engagement.
In this blog post, we will clarify exactly how UGC transforms hotel marketing, elevates overall guest experiences, and helps boost bookings for those hotels that innovate.
1. Build trust
Trust is fundamental in the hotel industry. Prospective guests seek validation and assurance from fellow travelers, and UGC is a potent tool in building this trust. This is, of course, the reason why TripAdvisor has become a power factor in the industry. Some hotels also manage to build the same level of trust in their own channels, by publishing their own reviews and UGC from their guests. By building trust in the hotels' own channels, fewer customers feel they need to explore other options on external review sites.
For instance, Marriott Hotels has been at the forefront of leveraging UGC by actively encouraging guests to share their photos and videos from their stays using hashtags like #MarriottMoments. By curating and showcasing this UGC across their marketing channels, Marriott effectively inspires travelers to choose their hotels for their next stay.
2. Inspire with authentic experiences
UGC allows hotels to showcase experiences in an authentic way, whether it's a stunning room view, a delectable restaurant dish, or a memorable guest experience. By curating and sharing this UGC, hotels bring to life the real stories of guests who have enjoyed their stay. This is also a way to ensure that content showcases a diverse range of customer groups.
For instance, Hilton Hotels launched the "Our Stage Your Story" campaign, encouraging guests to share their authentic experiences using the hashtag #HiltonStory. This kind of genuine content resonates with potential guests, inspiring them to book a stay and experience it for themselves.
3. Engage the guest community
Hotels can foster a sense of community among guests by encouraging them to share their experiences. UGC challenges inspire guests to become active participants in promoting the hotel.
Westin Hotels & Resorts launched the 'Westin Weekend' campaign, encouraging guests to share their weekend getaways using the hashtag #WestinWeekend. The campaign aimed to capture the relaxing and rejuvenating experiences that guests had during their weekend stays, aligning with their brand's focus on well-being. The campaign not only engaged their guest community but also provided a platform for guests to share their experiences and connect with fellow travelers.
4. Boost hotel reservations
UGC plays a vital role in influencing travelers' booking decisions. When potential guests see authentic experiences and positive reviews shared by other travelers, it creates a sense of anticipation and eagerness to book a stay at that particular hotel. UGC acts as a compelling call to action, nudging travelers to take the next step and confirm their reservations.
For example, Kimpton Hotels effectively utilize UGC on their website, showcasing guest-generated content in the form of reviews, photos, and testimonials. Kimpton is also well-known for its commitment to reflecting diversity in its content marketing. This focus on real experiences and diversity greatly influences prospective guests, leading to increased bookings and a loyal customer base.
5. Source content at a lower cost
Producing engaging visual content for marketing can be expensive for hotels, especially for chains with numerous properties. By involving guests in content creation, hotels can generate more authentic and engaging content at a considerably lower cost. In essence, UGC could significantly reduce the need for expensive photo shoots.
For example, Marriott Hotels conducted a notable employer branding campaign, aiming to showcase staff from their various properties worldwide. Instead of deploying a team of photographers, Marriott opted to rely on content generated by their own staff and utilized the hashtag #PictureYourselfHere. This decision significantly reduced the content production cost for the campaign while bolstering credibility. On a side note, when UGC is produced by employees, it's often referred to as employee-generated content (EGC).
UGC in hotel marketing – conclusion
In an era where travelers seek exceptional, genuine experiences, hotel brands need to find better ways to inspire potential guests. UGC equips them to cultivate trust, inspire travelers, and expand their reach to new customer groups. By embracing UGC, hotels can not only save on content production but also greatly boost booking numbers – setting the stage for unforgettable stays and experiences at their properties. UGC is a game-changer for hotel content marketing, and it will be intriguing to witness how brands harness its potential.