By Toby Britton, co-founder of Miappi
Around the globe, visitor attractions are a familiar story: mothballed museums, lonely fish in empty aquariums, grounded planes, deserted resorts, eerily quiet hotels, and, perhaps most chillingly, roller coasters without the screams. It’s not hard to argue that the tourism sector has been one of the worst-hit during the pandemic. However, with vaccine programmes being rolled out fast, it finally looks like we can start preparing for normality to return. But even though it seems like people are chomping at the bit to get out and enjoy themselves, should marketers rely on the same-old expensive marketing strategies that worked before, or is there a better, more flexible way?
User-generated content, or UGC has exploded in a big way in this last year, mainly thanks to the restrictions of lockdown. UGC is content created about a brand by highly-engaged customers or followers. It could be anything from reviews, to on-location photos and videos, product demonstrations, and many more creative applications, and is usually shared on social media or sent directly to the brand. Its power is evident when you start to think about all the times you were assured to book a BnB through a good review, or when you booked tickets to a buzzy exhibition after seeing your friends’ photos. In the 21st century, UGC can be thought of as a modern Wish You Were Here picture postcard, giving you powerful feelings of FOMO. This makes UGC ideally suited to the experiences-based world of tourism.
The great thing about UGC is that it embodies the power of word-of-mouth marketing to a mass audience, at little to no cost to the brand, giving you enviable ROI and boosting your Social Share of Voice in a crowded marketplace. In addition, unlike a traditional time-consuming marketing campaign with costly on-location shots, a campaign with UGC at its heart can be started up quickly and can turn on a dime. This quick turnaround is of particular benefit to the tourism sector, as restrictions fluctuate and marketers have to respond to fast-changing situations.
Modern life has also brought with it carefully staged-managed projections of countries and experiences on aspirational social media platforms. The refreshing thing about UGC in the travel sector is that it can showcase authentic representations of the travel experience, giving customers an accurate idea of what to expect. Plus, in a COVID-wary world, seeing relatable people enjoy an attraction safely provides yet another reassurance before hitting the checkout button.
So how can you use UGC to boost your travel brand? Here are 5 top tips to get you started:
- Repost and regram the best UGC
Seen some UGC that really showcases what your brand is about, or a stellar review that makes your attraction a must-book? Repost and regram the best UGC to give a heightened visibility to authentic content that makes you look great, and save time and money creating new content in the process. By using a digital platform such as Miappi, you can save time scouring social media for the best UGC and use licensing tools to quickly get the right permissions for content use from your engaged fans.
- Create eye-catching shoppable website galleries
Wouldn’t it be great if customers could click an image of a family having a great time at an attraction, and be taken straight to a kids-half-price offer? Miappi’s monetize function allows you to quickly and easily curate the best UGC moments and assemble them into shoppable gallery tiles that you can put in pride of place on your website. This way, when lockdown lifts and you experience a rush of browsing traffic, you can increase your chances of converting as much of this passing trade into purchases by serving up time-appropriate offers.
- Place UGC at key points in the purchase path
Once you’ve got customers on the hook, you’ll want to seal the deal. By combining the reassurance of UGC along with messaging regarding your covid safety measures, you’ll increase the chances of getting that customer to checkout. Use a platform such as Miappi to automate the placement of product-specific UGC in your ecommerce framework to get those tickets flying out the door.
- Encourage the creation of UGC at the start of your relationship with the customer
As anyone in the tourism industry knows, the story doesn’t end when you’ve gained a customer. Seeing what UGC is already out there and setting UGC challenges on social media is one way to source UGC, but you can use your CRM tools to encourage the creation of UGC by your customers from the get-go. There are plenty of ways to do this, with one being the inclusion of a prompt to create UGC along with a booking confirmation email. Ask your customers questions – what are you most excited about on your visit? Who will you be bringing? – or get them to post silly photos acting out their rollercoaster faces. Remind them to create UGC during their visit and provide them with clear instructions, such as a hashtag, or a link to a Miappi form to directly upload their UGC to you.
- Boost your paid media strategy with UGC
UGC complements well-worn marketing and social media strategies, by being just another piece of content that can be used straight-up or remixed, and then woven into larger paid media campaigns on social media, print media, TV, digital displays on-site, and much more. By putting your social media spend on a tried-and-tested piece of UGC that’s gathered high engagement already, you can supercharge that piece of content and achieve even better ROI.
There’s a lot of uncertainty out there, but with UGC you can ride out the ups and downs of changing restrictions, and give yourself a head-start ahead of the competition for a fraction of the effort. And who knows, maybe you’ll have time to have as much fun as your customers too!
About Toby Britton, co-founder of Miappi
Toby is the co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Miappi. Toby has been involved in the creative and communications industries since mid-nineties when he started working for independent TV production companies in the production of documentary films. In 2001 he transferred his film making skills marketing and advertising before starting to focus on digital projects. It was these agency-side projects that led Toby to start the business that would evolve into Miappi. Today, Toby oversees the design, development and marketing of Miappi.
Miappi is SaaS marketing platform powered by consumer-generated content. Our technology helps brands to discover and harness these authentic stories in order to drive consumer engagement and increases conversions. Miappi helps Enterprise our clients to discover, curate and license the very best visual content (images, videos and comments) from social media platforms, review sites and from direct upload. The platform then makes it easy to publish the best of that content to websites, digital signage, live event screens, email campaigns and paid advertising.