How to use user generated content to drive your visual marketing

Visual marketing is an effective platform for accommodation providers.  It’s not enough to just sell the value and benefits of your accommodation, these days you have to sell the guest experience.

An easy way for accommodation providers to sell the guest experience is through visual marketing, particularly using customer-generated content.

So what is customer-generated content?

Any content (blog, photos, videos, social media posts, reviews) created and shared by unpaid contributors. For your accommodation, these are guests who have stayed with you, or who are currently staying with you. Customer-generated content helps in creating credibility, authenticity, and relevance to prospective guests.

While it’s not a new medium, the impact of this type of marketing has really skyrocketed with platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. The experience a guest has at an accommodation can easily be communicated through visual mediums.

Visual content is a powerful sales tool

These days it’s not uncommon for people to share their experiences and life through a camera lens. With the undeniable presence of social media and photo-sharing platforms, the use of visuals in marketing is an effective way to drive user engagement. Having user-generated content associated with your brand can be a powerful sales tools. While people read reviews, having a photo someone has shared their experience at your accommodation premises creates authenticity, relevance, and trust. Guests can relate to those posts, and are more likely to make a booking if that’s an experience they would like to have.

Capitalising on this interest during the research/planning phase guests undertake is essential for hoteliers. This is because it will keep your brand front of mind!

How can you capture authentic, inspiring experiences and moments to captivate your ideal guests?

Ask guests to share their favorite or most photogenic moments and experiences with you. Whether it’s through your social media page, via email, or with a hashtag, you can encourage them to share their photos with a small incentive, a discount off the next stay, or to have their photo featured. This will humanise your accommodation, and create relevant, authentic images potential guests can relate to. While not every guest will share their photos with you, there is no harm in asking, there will be some who are more than happy to share their experience at your accommodation.

What about social media influencers?

Travel bloggers (writers), vloggers (video), photographers, Instagrammers, YouTubers, all have an audience that is engaged with their content. You can use these influencers to market to a new audience who may not otherwise be exposed to your accommodation. The most important thing with influencers is how engaged their audience is with their content. You will likely have to trade room nights, and your accommodation has to have a unique selling point, whether it’s the view or surrounding area.

Choosing the right influencers is important, some are paid for the posts they make, and if you’re on a budget, this might not be the best route. Instead, choose influencers that are local to you, and while they have a smaller number of followers, they could still be as easily engaged.

Only starting with visual marketing?

Not ready for influencers or haven’t built up your base of user-generated content? Re-create some experiences your guests would have when staying with you. Photograph the local sunset, or and picturesque scenes and have your caption focus on the experience of being there.

Finally, make the experience actionable

Once you have engaged potential guests with your visual content, prompt them to take action. Tell them to enquire today, book now, or view your rates. The more engaged the customer is the more likely they are to book with you.

To recap:

  • Use user-generated content in your marketing, it’s relatable and authentic.
  • Ask guests to share their favourite moments with you.
  • Captivate guests during the consideration phase, to stay top of mind.
  • Make sure your visuals reflect the guest experience.
  • You can use influencers if you have the budget and they are engaged with an audience that would be your ideal guest.
  • Make sure you include a call to action, prompting potential guests to take the next step.

About the author

Amanda is Preno’s content strategist, with added skills in copywriting and digital marketing. Working across Marketing & Sales, she enjoys writing content that covers trends, tips, and resources that help empower hoteliers.

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