Holidays are made for user-generated content.
That camera around a tourist’s neck? It’s a marketer’s best friend. Whatever the holiday, people are capturing beautiful little moments the entire time.
But when they return home, and the company they booked with asks about their trip, they normally end up with stuff like this…
Where are those awesome photos? Those once-in-a-lifetime stories?
It’s not that people are shy – #wanderlust Instagram is a testament to that. It’s a deeper issue.
What’s the problem?
The problem is that travel companies tend to not know that they can even get this stuff, or what they can do with it. They think of user-generated content like this:
Collect reviews and (hopefully) find some more inspirational content on social media.
Park the content on one of my web pages and wait for people to find it.
Hope my audience likes it and buys stuff.
It’s a shame. Because, with a bit of strategy about what you collect and how you display it, these magical holiday moments can be transformational to the way a travel business operates.
So how can user-generated content transform my business?
Done in the right way, UGC can fit in with your SEO strategy, your content strategy, and even your plans for customer experience along the purchase journey.
But to be doing that, you need to be doing three things:
- Collecting enough,
- Collecting good quality,
- And making sure it’s structured for use.
We’re not talking about ripping out what you’re doing and replacing it with UGC – this enhances and enriches your existing overall strategy.
Let’s go back to those three aspects of your business:
- Your SEO strategy,
- Your content strategy,
- And customer experience along the purchase journey.
And how does UGC help you get better at all of those? Let’s break it down.
Step 1 – your SEO strategy
SEO strategies are, of course, organised around specific queries and keywords.
The problem is, users are pretty uncontrollable. Can you really cover all your bases with branded content alone?
The good thing about user-generated content is that almost everything will come up eventually (if you collect it right, that is). Does your SEO strategy capture people who initially are just trying to find some destination inspiration? What about parents looking for kid-friendly holiday activities?
Lots of branded content is great, but if you have a proactive way of collecting tailored content from your actual customers, you can display it in a way that drives traffic earlier on in the purchase journey, keeps people on your site and drives them to action.
Step 2 – your content strategy
Of course, travel brands are deep in the content game. Having good stuff on your website is crucial. But where do you get it from? Professional photography? Stock image site?
What about getting it from people who have actually been there?
69% of people trust UGC over brand-created images, according to our research. People prefer to see authentic images of holidays and products rather than stock images or brand created images.
There’s nothing wrong with asking your customers for exactly the kind of content you want – it’s about knowing how to frame the question. That needs you need to know what you’re after before you start asking. We’ve written a guide to collecting high-quality UGC – check it out here.
Remember, if these people have already written a review for you, the lines of communication are open, so just drop them a line.
Contacting your customers proactively is a lot better than trying to grab bits off social for a few reasons, but mainly the tricky issue of rights management. Once the content starts flowing in, you’re one step closer to ditching the stock images and being completely authentic.
Also, when people know what they’re sending might be seen by lots of people, they’ll pick the best stuff – so no need to worry about quality. Check out some of these images we collected from BA holidays customers.
Step 3 – customer experience along the purchase journey
You know your customers love you. Everyone knows how much your customers love their travels and holidays.
Show them you care about them and not just how much money they’ve paid you by letting them advocate for you without relying on Twitter or Instagram.
People are capable of inspiring, educating and convincing. You just have to give them the chance, by letting them share their experiences with your audience at every touchpoint.