Shopping for a holiday is harder than it seems. Nowadays, travellers can fully customise every aspect of their dream holiday. And as a result of the increased variety of choices, they have developed ways to filter through the many options. However, compared to physical products, experience-driven and customer-centric businesses like hotels are harder for travellers to determine the value of. For example, they can see a suitcase in person and feel how sturdy it is. However, they are not able to test out your hotel before booking. This is why they look for cues to help them make decisions—what other people say, feel and post online about. In short, they look for user-generated content (UGC).

Marketing your hotel online is indeed less straightforward than your typical suitcase. If you’re not yet using user-generated content to boost your hotel’s marketing, you might want to change your mind. We will look into what UGC is, why your hotel should make use of it and how to leverage it in your marketing efforts.

A person creating content using their mobile phone
Travellers value the opinion of other travellers, so they trust the content they post.

The power of user-generated content

User-generated content refers to any content, like text, videos, images and reviews created by users rather than the brand. For your hotel, this could mean a plethora of things. From any image posted on social media of guests enjoying your facilities to videos showing off your beautiful room design or blogs written about the most outstanding hotels in an area.

Created by guests instead of your hotel, UGC is viewed as 2.4 times more authentic and trustworthy than branded content. 79% of online shoppers say that user-generated content has a high impact on their purchasing decisions. In fact, it is significantly more impactful than branded content and influencer content. As a result, making use of UGC is an easy way for you to have fresh, authentic content with minimal effort, while making you appear more credible and trustworthy. Ultimately, using UGC in your strategy can help you increase your website conversion by improving your reputation and inspiring trust in potential guests.

Screenshots from AirBnB's Instagram page
AirBnb frequently reposts photos created by their users, giving credit in the photo description.

How to get user-generated content

If you have a social media presence, chances are you already have plenty of UGC lying around unused. Start by checking whether you’ve been tagged in any guest content, and ask for permission to use the content in your marketing. While social media is one of the easier ways to get visual user-generated content, it is not the only one. Below we will cover a few ways for you to harvest UGC from your guests, both with and without a social media presence.

Turn your guests into brand ambassadors

To encourage guests to create content for you on social media, consider creating a branded hashtag. You can share this hashtag on your social pages, and also use it yourself. However, if you want to go one step further, have small signs across your property. To get the most out of your signs, position them in locations that are most photographed around your property. This could be a centrepiece, around your restaurant, or in your beautiful garden.

Ask your guests to use the hashtag whenever they post about their stay, and to tag your page. This will help you manage the content easier, and it can also give you an upper hand to control what kind of content you are tagged in. Track the content you are being tagged in, and ask for permission to reshare it on your social pages. On top of that, you can also ask permission to use it for your website or in your advertising. Like this, your customers become your brand advocates—and acknowledging them by resharing their content will bring them even closer to you and increase their brand loyalty.

Snippets of the social media profile of a hotel showing content generated by users
The Social Hub uses the hashtag #TheSocialHub on their own posts and in turn, guests that tag them in content use the hashtag as well.

Make use of reviews

Many people like to leave reviews for the places they go to. Not only are reviews helpful for improving your services, but they also act as the social proof that potential guests search for. Whenever you ask for reviews, check with your guests whether they would be happy for their reviews to be shared on your website. And as for reviews left on TripAdvisor or Google Maps, you might even be able to use the images or videos your guests have captured alongside their own words as powerful proof of the value you offer.

Invest in micro-influencers and UGC creators

Imagine you’ve renovated your restaurant, or upgraded your rooms. You may now want to make sure the whole world knows about your revamped facilities. However, you may feel that the traditional way of advertising does not feel authentic enough.

Investing in micro-influencers and user-generated content creators might just be what you are looking for. That is because they’re professionals when it comes to creating content, and they are less costly than big influencers. UGC creators, particularly, have been growing in popularity in recent times. They are content creators that specifically create content that looks like UGC—but it has been paid for. The benefit for you is that you still get to share authentic content, but you have more control over what is being shown in the content.

A section of a website dedicated to customer testimonials
Eden Hotels sports a section on their website dedicated to reviews they have received.

Leveraging user-generated content for your hotel website

80% of people say that they would be more likely to purchase if brands showcased UGC on their website. To increase conversion and create a deeper bond with your potential guests, use social proof and user-generated content on your hotel website. You will save your website visitors the time they would have used to search for reviews of your hotel. As a result, they will have fewer distractions, and be more likely to book with you sooner.

Create a story centred around your guests

A clever way to incorporate UGC into your strategy is by telling a story on your website from your guests’ perspective. Not only can storytelling increase website conversion by 30%, but you’ll also tell stories that you would have otherwise not been able to create as a brand. Through this, you will help potential guests envision what staying at your hotel would be like. As a result, the experience will feel more tangible and desirable. Create a compelling story using content from your guests. Then, use it across channels, on your social media and in advertising for a cohesive storytelling experience.

Traveller looking at a pool.
Tell a story from your guests’ perspective to make staying at your hotel more tangible and desirable.

Use user-generated content to enhance personalisation

Access to UGC does not only give you high-quality content at little-to-no cost, but it can also help you increase personalisation on your hotel website.

Travellers don’t leave reviews just any time—they need to have had an intense experience to leave a review (be that good or bad). When acquired organically, positive UGC gives you an insight into what truly appeals to different audiences. You can then use these insights to create a personalised marketing strategy for each of your audiences. Then, use the content when creating targeted advertising for that particular group.

You can also reap benefits even if you choose to acquire paid UGC. Use the insights you have about your target audience to acquire paid content that will appeal to them. Using the appropriate imagery you have requested from micro-influencers or UGC creators will increase the personalisation and make your advertising more appealing.

Boosting your marketing strategy with user-generated content

All in all, user-generated content is the future of social proof for hotels. It helps hoteliers tell their story from a different perspective, improves reputation and increases the trust you inspire in guests. To help you stay competitive, and show potential guests what real people who stayed at your hotel valued, use UGC on your hotel website. Your guests will be more confident in choosing your over competitors, and your conversion will improve too.

May 3, 2023
Trends and Insights
Written by
Hotelchamp Team