Ready to integrate that beautiful picture of a guest enjoying your hotel’s pool into your marketing mix? How about that priceless video of a couple celebrating their honeymoon on the deck of your cruise liner, or a business jetsetter’s glowing review of your loyalty program?
NB: This is an analysis by Dianna Koltz, VP of Customer, Rivet.
When it comes to the travel industry, there are few marketing tools as effective as user-generated content (UGC).
You should build your UGC program as deliberately as your comprehensive marketing strategy. To do that, consider the field’s best practices for acquiring content directly from business and leisure travelers.
Step 1: Campaign for and with user-generated content
Actively acquiring UGC allows a more controlled way of adding inspiring brand-referencing material to your campaigns. To acquire brand-referencing content from travelers, campaign for it. Then, employ it across your larger marketing campaigns and initiatives.
Plan out all of the programs you are going to use as part of your overall marketing strategy. Determine how they balance and feed into each other. While developing goals and key attributes for your marketing mix, consider how they will extend to and be supported by UGC campaigns.
Step 2: Pull the trigger
To stand up a UGC program that is designed to solicit and acquire content from travelers, you will need to determine what will make them want to respond. What will be your trigger for content?
Assess the mediums and channels that will connect with your customers. Is your target audience traveling for business or a family holiday during a school break?
A well-rounded portfolio of prompts, suited to your audience’s motivations, will lead to the most effective program.
A trigger needs to do more than cause a reaction—it needs to invite people to connect with you. Email, text, and retargeted online campaigns are prime real estate for asking travelers to provide you with their insight.
Social media promotions, print and multi-media ads within your properties, and follow-up promotions can all round out your acquisition approach.
Step 3: Pick the right time for that trigger
There is no time like the present. But, make sure the present is the right time to pull the trigger. Timing can make or break the results of your content-acquisition plan. Why? It all comes down to your audience.
Let’s say the travelers you are targeting are adults between the ages of 25 and 45. A dominant percentage of that group will have asmartphone in hand for most of the day.
But can you guarantee they will be in a position to respond to your prompt if they are en route to a destination?
Probably not. Travelers will be more likely to respond to your trigger for action during or after their trip. Better to deliver a prompt at a time when your traveler will be able to engage.
Step 4: Say the right thing
After all this careful planning, you are engaging with the right people, in the right place, at the right time. What do you want to say? What do you need to learn from them?
Carefully frame the conversation with your audience—it will determine the content you acquire for your program. The goal is to have your user-generated content program elicit exactly what you want to learn about travelers’ perspectives on your brand, services, or facilities.
Give your guests a creative, but bookended, way of telling you their story. If you guide them toward a broad conversation, you will end up with broad content that will say very little and won’t feed your marketing campaigns.
By formulating what you want to learn from your guests, you can more effectively shape the prompts through which you acquire UGC from your audience. In turn, you can more easily feed the content you have acquired into your active marketing initiatives.
Step 5: Motivate the conversation
The beauty of UGC is that it is authentic and compelling. If your audience is compensated for content will it affect the authenticity of the content?
Marketing is a conversation between businesses and consumers. While there are and should be altruistic aspects to the relationship, your relationship with travelers is one that incurs an exchange of goods and services.
Incentivizing your content-acquisition campaigns increases the likelihood of audiences following through with the conversation in which you are engaged. By demonstrating that your guest’s time and insights are valuable, your brand has motivated its audience to share content.
There is a second benefit to adding an incentive to your acquisition process: the ability to glean essential information about travelers.
Who makes up your audience? Where do they live? When and how are they booking getaways? Who finalizes their travel plans? What determines how they select flights or accommodations? All of this information can be captured through the process of granting an incentive.
Step 6: Moderate the conversation
The most common question organizations have about brand-referencing content is, how are we going to determine what’s useable? The process for acquiring UGC may seem daunting, but the goal is to make it suit your brand.
It is easier to immediately put UGC to work for your brand by building filters into the acquisition process. When you actively acquire content, you control the methods through which content is triggered and submitted, so you have the power to apply filters to your process.
The goal for your UGC program is the high-volume capture of useable content; that needs to be supported by the ability to conduct fast-paced moderation across your content.
Determine the mediums, formats, and guidelines that will suit your campaign needs. This will go on to limit the amount of sorting that needs to be done once content has been acquired.
Once you have a viable selection of content for your user-generated content program, you should be able to easily curate the best material to suit the needs of your campaigns.
If you have no early-stage filtering for your program, it is easy to spend a disproportionate amount of time manually sorting through the content you have acquired.
NB: This is an analysis by Dianna Koltz, VP of Customer, Rivet. It appears here as part of Tnooz's sponsored content initiative.