Most of the tourism businesses we talk with already know that they need to embrace a cutting-edge content marketing strategy if they’re going to stay ahead of the competition in our increasingly digital world. The question then isn’t why content marketing, but what content to share?
Why not let your guests and customers help you to create engaging and effective content that is proven to be more effective in influencing potential customers?
Enter User-Generated Content (UGC). While User-Generated Content is not a substitute for creating your own high-quality content, it is a crucial component of any digital marketing strategy. When done correctly, it can save you time on always having to create engaging content from scratch.
Why User-Generated Content For Tourism Businesses
User-Generated Content is just as the name suggests: any content (blog posts, social media shares, etc.) that is created by your guests or users. UGC is especially powerful as it gives potential customers an authentic, first-hand look at what your offer or service is actually like—advertisements and filters aside. Similar to the way in which people profoundly trust user reviews, we know that potential customers also trust user-generated content above all other promotional material.
User-Generated Content is not only a fantastic way to inspire wanderlust and increase trust in your own digital marketing strategy, but it is also a potent way to get your business in front of new target audiences. Every time your guests upload a stunning photo to social media and tag your tourism business, that’s a new group of potential travelers that your business is getting in front of. And who doesn’t want free marketing?
Now that you know why User-Generated Content for tourism businesses is crucial, let’s dive into the how. Luckily, travel and tourism is one of the most well-suited industry for UGC as most travelers already want to share their epic travel experiences with friends and family. Here’s how to get started:
How To Get More User-Generated Content For Your Travel Marketing Strategy
1. Create A Branded Hashtag
If you’re going to effectively monitor User-Generated Content, then you must have a unique branded hashtag. Get creative with your hashtag, but keep it easy to use and specific to your brand. For example, for one of our clients, we created the hashtag: #WhereYogaMeetsYou. For more inspiring examples, this is a great list of some of the most memorable brand hashtags, many of which you’re likely familiar with.
Be sure to put your hashtag on all of your own marketing material, including not only social media posts, but also business cards, storefront windows, signs around your property…the more visible it is, the better!
Pro Tip: There are multiple free tracking tools available that easily monitor hashtags around the web. Be sure to set one up so that you can quickly see whenever someone uses your hashtag or mentions your tourism brand! This article explains some of the more popular ones in detail.
2. Keep It Conversational
While User-Generated Content is a great tool in your travel marketing arsenal, remember that it is really all about conversations with past, current and prospective guests. Always keep it social!
Like and comment whenever a guest shares content about your brand. Take it one step further by leaving a thoughtful note or insider tip, rather than just a generic “thanks.” Remember that this content is reaching a new audience of prospective buyers, so use it as an opportunity to build your know, like and trust factor.
On the same note, don’t just reshare UGC on your own social media channels without adding additional value or personal comments. This often has a ripple effect and can inspire even more user generated content!
3. Make It Fun
We’re all big kids at heart. Make it fun for your guests to share content about your brand, and chances are that they will! A classic example in the tourism industry is Montreal, where they placed large frames at key spots around the city. Travelers could then take fun photos of themselves through the frames as part of the Montreal Moments campaign (#MTLMoments.) The interactive photobooth was a huge hit, and massively increased UGC.
Get your team together to brainstorm other fun ideas that will appeal to your customers. You might be surprised by how many creative (and free) campaign ideas you come up with!
4. Remind Your Guests and Customers
We always say that if you are offering a five-star experience that goes above and beyond what your customers expected, then they will want to share their travel stories with the world! Often all you have to do is give a small nudge or reminder.
This is why it’s crucial to have your hashtag visible everywhere. If an employee takes a photo of a guest, they can gently encourage them to share the photo on their social media channels. If you have any local customers that return time and time again, you could also reach out directly to them in the beginning in order to get the UGC wheels turning.
You can be vocal without being pushy. Just as you encourage guests to leave positive reviews if they had an amazing experience, also remind guests to share their photos, videos or stories on their social media profiles and blogs.
5. Offer A Reward Or Incentive
Sometimes this takes a bit more organization, but offering an incentive for sharing content is an excellent way to skyrocket both UGC and brand awareness.
It could be as small as a free happy hour drink if a guest uploads a photo to social media with your brand hashtag. Or perhaps you want to create a contest centered around a larger review, such as a free stay at your hotel for the best user photo with the most votes.
The key is to offer a reward that both appeals to your customers and is commensurate with the effort. For a great example, The Outer Banks in North Carolina regularly run excellent photo contests where the price is a free vacation to OBX! As natives of North Carolina, we’ve seen first-hand how these contents generate excitement and receive tons of social shares as participants compete for the most photo votes and a free vacation.
Pro Tip: Remember to always give credit to any users if you reshare their content. If it was not clear initially that your brand would be resharing content, then we recommend first asking permission.
Let your customers do the selling by sharing their personal travel stories and experiences with your brand through these tips and tricks.
What success stories has your business had with User-Generated Content for tourism?