User-generated content (UGC) is hardly a new marketing method, but its popularity has skyrocketed over the last 10-plus years. That’s because it’s perhaps the best way to connect customers with companies and generally makes them feel involved. UGC is a way for travel brands to get short and long-term wins (who doesn’t love sharing pictures of travel?), and we’ve got everything you need to know about implementing it in your marketing strategy.
What is user-generated content (UGC)? 📸
The name is a giveaway, but user-generated content is the use of photos, videos and other forms of content provided by a brand’s user, audience and followers. Instead of using professional photoshoots to create campaigns, businesses turn to their audience to provide real-life content.
Over the last 10 years, mega-companies like Coca-Cola, Calvin Klien and Starbucks have all used UGC to their advantage. The result is always a boost in engagement, increased brand awareness, higher social media follower counts and, most importantly, more sales.
Why does UGC work so well for travel brands? 🏖️
There’s no industry like the travel sector when it comes to visuals. It’s easier to capture people’s imagination and get them feeling different emotions with photos of far-flung destinations and dreamy beach paradises than it is to get someone excited about other topics. Consequently, UGC works particularly well in the travel industry.
A report from Stackla revealed that 60% of consumers were influenced by user-generated content before making travel plans. And those aren’t the only stats that shine a light on UGC and how it can affect customer behaviour.
- UGC results in 29% higher web conversions than campaigns or websites without it
- UGC increases conversions by 10% when included in an online purchase path
- One-quarter of search results (25%) for the world’s biggest brands are links to user-generated content
- UGC-based ads get 4x higher click-through rates and a 50% drop in cost-per-click than average
- Millennials trust UGC 50% more than original content generated by the brands
User-generated content is a proven way of creating successful campaigns that can drive your travel brand forward. When done right, it’s a powerful form of content that is difficult to overlook.
The stages of UGC for travel brands 😃
There are several stages in the travel cycle where particular user-generated content can help influence travellers’ decisions:
The first stage is “interest”, where 86% of consumers are influenced by photos posted by friends, family and peers. This is where their juices start flowing, and the idea of booking a holiday becomes a reality.
After having their interest piqued, holidaymakers are usually keen to get researching. Research shows that UGC visuals sway 59% of travellers at this stage in the holiday booking process.
The final stage – and most important – is booking. The UGC trend continues here, with 52% of consumers saying they made plans to visit a specific destination based on an image or video from friends, family and peers. They’re also actively thinking about creating their own content to share with others at this stage.
How can travel brands use UGC? 🌆
Sharing is the key to creating a successful UGC campaign. You want to encourage people to share their experiences via photos and videos. Most brands start with social media, as this is the best platform to reach a broad audience.
Some companies run a competition, motivating people to share photos using a specific hashtag, with the best ones selected for a prize. These could be images of your favourite city break or best beach vacation. Or you may ask people to share their airport or transport experiences in other countries.
The goal is to engage. Essentially, you want to make people feel involved and like they’re a part of the brand. UGC is a great way to do that as it helps build loyalty and drives sales along with brand awareness.
How much does it cost? 💰
UGC is relatively inexpensive, as you’re asking people to provide content. While it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, it’s vital that you secure the rights to use people’s photos and videos. The best way to do this involves creating a unique hashtag so that everyone who submits content uses the hashtag, which provides you with the rights.
Some brands amplify their UGC campaigns, using them on digital ads at tube and train stations or even turning them into commercials. If you go down this route, you can expect the costs to rise considerably. But it’s entirely possible to create a successful UGC campaign only using social media and the tools available to you online.
Summary: User-generated wins
User-generated content is a great way to add some more colour to your marketing material and give your customers the chance to be part of the brand. In return, they’ll love feeling like they’re involved, and the content they produce will help new customers and holiday-seekers to find the best destinations.