User generated content (UGC) is any form of content created by unpaid consumers, for example, renters, that is made available to other users or potential users of a service. Think reviews, video, blogs, images, social media, gifs, memes, etc.
Why is UGC useful?
For starters, 69% of people trust UGC over brand-created images – reviews, comments and the like from people you identify with are perceived as more reliable in comparison to shouts from the seller. So, a bunch of good comments from a bunch of real people will only do your business good!
UGC therefore informs and improves your authority, but also eliminates the need for you to reach out to leads; your happy customers are doing that work for you without you spending the money on advertising and marketing.
We know traditional marketing’s efficacy is fading fast, sleeping its way into extinction. Consumers are significantly more active in their buying journeys and recommendations from trusted sources like UGC play a foundational role in new decisions.
How do you encourage UGC?
In brief, you need to think of a campaign that prompts and incentivizes content sharing, thereby spreading your product photos and messages across different channels that your personas use. And, most importantly, it needs to be easy and straightforward for this content to be uploaded.
A simple first step to encouraging UGC is to allow reviews to be submitted to your website and your social platforms. Ping an email to each customer after their stay to thank them for using your service and asking them to leave a review of their experience, or to share their favourite photos. Publish this content on your site and include a star rating function for any skim readers out there.
If your rentals offer a feature that you want to shout about, encourage reviews on that specific element of the experience, much like cottages.com’s Reevoo stream “What our customers say about hot tub holidays with us”.
Make sure to showcase your User Generated Content by creating a dynamic display on relevant pages of your site. Put reviews, comments, pics and vids on these specific pages, such as user pics from one rental place on the specific holiday home page. Or run an email marketing campaign featuring your customers staying in your holiday accommodation.
It will come as no surprise that UGC’s most popular hang out is social media, particularly Instagram. Instagram is great for the holiday rental sector because brands can repost users’ content, leverage hashtags, and it’s full to the brim with aesthetically pleasing images of the holiday destination of dreams. Insta content ideas can drive holiday rental marketing by increasing exposure, collating referrals in one accessible location, and reducing costs.
Before continuing, it’s important to note here about user permission. You must ask for permission to share or repurpose any UGC for other marketing channels.
Next up is a list of ways to source UGC.
Ask your customers directly for their engagement. For example, post a picture of one of your hotel settings with “Comment below with an emoji to describe how you feel about this view!”, or similar.
You could also mention the concept during pre-stay communication, perhaps when you send them digital guide. Wrap up the request with an offer, such as a discount off future bookings (more repeat guests), or a free welcome pack (happy arrivals) – a great example of happy arrival UGC was run by hotels.com where participants recorded a short video of themselves arriving their hotel room from the first moment the door opened.
The beauty of hashtags is in their simplicity. They make it easy for consumers to enter campaigns just by tagging their content with the designated campaign hashtag.
For some hashtag inspiration around the travel industry, please see our raising awareness blog post.
These allow consumers to upload their content directly to your website or Facebook. Again, this should be simple and intuitive. Uploading photos and posts are the bread and butter of social platforms so your users are likely to be accustomed to these actions already. Use industry standard icons and actions (file upward arrows and drag and drops) to indicate to customers where to upload their content.
Installing share icons on your site will make it straightforward for your customers to share the content they love. Ensure these are social sharing CTAs, not follow us CTAs.
Have something interactive on your website! For instance, a quiz to find “Which holiday is best for you?”
Person A: Couple > Relaxing > Fire
Person B: Family > Active > Mountain view
The answers could reveal different holiday properties (which may be very different for person A and B!). Again, make sure you use social sharing CTAs here!
Drum up engagement with competitions, perhaps a ‘submit your best holiday snap!’. If you’re offering a prize, give details how you’ll choose a winner, any age restrictions, how the prize will be distributed and where all the entries can be viewed, as well as the terms and conditions.
Likewise, surveys are a great way to engage your users and to gain insights into their experience of your services and products. See I-Pro’s “Have you seen an increase in last minute bookings?”
Creating customer events, both online and off, that give customers starring roles. This could be Twitter chats, webinars where customers are invited to speak, meetups or seminars or promotional events at tradeshows.
Cross collaborations are another great way to gain content. Get customers to register for local events near their holiday rentals through your website, e.g. entry to a cycling race near Exeter for vacation rentals in that region.
Follow the top influencers in your region or target market. These might be micro influencers in the grand scheme of global audiences, but they will help you reach and captivate new audiences that you wouldn’t be able to reach on your own steam. You might ask travel blogger to review your holiday experience. Though to get a travel influencer to stay in your holiday accommodation you need to have a pretty special proposition. Make sure to build a rapport and offer what you can.
Likewise, you can collaborate with top customers – get them to detail why they are returning to you.
Round up, round up!
So, there you go! A solid list of ways to start the UGC ball rolling. By no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a good place to start.
– If you don’t ask, you don’t get!
– Incentivise users to create content – offer a compelling reason for them to engage.
– If you’re organising a competition, highlight the best entries, not just the winner.
– Promote the campaign to increase exposure. If people don’t hear about it, they can’t join in!
– And finally, never stop learning. Leverage data to understand customer interests and preferences, and use your knowledge to inform future marketing campaigns and promotions.
If you would like a demo of iPro Software – our leading CRM based booking management system for holiday rental owners – please get in contact with us today!