The travel industry is beginning to pick up momentum again, and consumers are taking any opportunity to go abroad in hopes of recovering what was temporarily lost during the pandemic. When searching for their next location, Customers view content generated by other users as more reliable. User-generated content can take many forms, such as; reviews, Q&A forums, social media posts, comments or videos but Social media has been the powerful tool that elevated online review forums into becoming masses of social posts under locations and hashtags. A brand’s reputation can literally be in a consumer’s hand, especially if they are an unhappy customer.
When was the last time you booked a hotel without looking through the images in the reviews or even booked somewhere with no reviews at all?
As well as price, location and facilities, travel customers are also looking for destinations and hotels that have good reviews. Customer reviews are trusted 12 times more than the marketing communications from the organisation. Accommodation marketplaces such as Booking.com and Airbnb provide a review section that helps customers determine which accommodation seems to fit their needs without seeing it in person, providing them with a sense of relief that they will not be disappointed when they arrive.
What is a digital traveller?
User behaviour has evolved over the past few years. Consumers have increased how much research they conduct before booking anything. A digital traveller is someone who navigates through digital platforms and contact points (Travel related websites, review forums and social media pages), collecting insights at different stages of the funnel to help them make a decision. Users typically go through different channels before making a purchase, and this is most evident within the travel industry. Understanding the digital behaviour of travel users and leveraging the trends that contribute to sales is an impactful way of driving engagement and racking up sales.
With so many options and so much information to compare, choosing the right option can get complicated for travel users and leave them frustrated, complicating the booking process. Alistair Rennie and Jonny Prothero of Google have analysed how consumers make decisions within this market. This analysis has revealed how much information and how many options are available to today’s travellers. Consumers enter a loop where they are head-spun between exploring and evaluating which option is the best choice.
Travel marketers and brands should leverage the motivations and biases that buyers rely on and suck them out of the exploration and evaluation loop and into the buying phase.
Insights that lead to personalised marketing comms
User-Generated Content paints a picture of your customers, what drove them to your business and how they felt about the service. These insights are guidelines on how you can optimise and improve the journeys of prospective customers. Whether they arrive directly onto your website or swiped onto one of your social channels, leveraging User Generated Content will irrupt engagement from your audience and ignite a journey that leads them to become customers. By gaining personal insight into your customers’ experience, you can then personalise your Content to showcase your services best qualities that fit the users’ needs.
When and where should User-generated Content be implemented?
The pandemic may have temporarily slowed down the travel industry, but travellers now follow post-pandemic guidelines to continue exploring. With the industry evolving so fast, new technologies are emerging to facilitate processes for both the traveller and businesses in the travel industry. Aside from social media, another party that plays a big role in travellers purchasing decisions is Google searches. As this is the birthplace of many holiday bookings, Search Engine Marketing is an important channel for travel businesses. Ad-machina is SEM technology designed to optimise your campaign to generate personalised search results. The image below is an ad for Hotel Rio Montego, which includes a rating provided by Tripadvisor, which is calculated with customer reviews. Alongside the reviews, there are specific key features of the hotel that match the interests and needs of the user.
Most businesses have reviews or case studies on their websites, but this is mainly visible to direct traffic. All your channels and touchpoints are opportunities to engage users, so why solely place these reviews in one place?
User-generated content can be used in emails, paid ads and even landing pages personalised for users interested in similar locations or facilities. The variation of UGC available increases the different ways of marketing UGC. From reposting posts, stories or TikToks, to showcasing snippets of comments and reviews in your email comms, re-using UGC is a great way to ignite some engagement from your travel audience.
Our marketing realm is thriving off data and machine learning tools, and therefore user-generated Content should be implemented alongside upcoming technologies that use A. I to determine what would your user be most interested in purchasing. Ultimately, gaining a personal perspective of your customers’ feelings is a strategic way of sprinkling a human touch into your data insights.
Download our whitepaper here and discover insights on consumer purchasing behaviour within the travel industry; also, learn more about ad-machina, our revolutionary SEM technology.