The travel industry is reviving. Consumers are looking to go abroad to recover time that was lost during the pandemic. When searching for their next destination, customers rely more on content generated by other consumers than content posted by businesses themselves. User-generated content can take many forms, such as reviews, Q&A forums, social media posts, comments, or videos. Social media has transformed from simple online review forums into masses of social posts, sortable by locations and hashtags. A brand’s reputation can be in a consumer’s hands, especially if they are an unhappy customer.
When was the last time you booked a hotel without looking through the images in the reviews? Have you booked (or would you book) 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 organization. Accommodation marketplaces such as Booking.com and Airbnb provide review sections that help customers determine which accommodation fits their needs. Customers trust that they will not be disappointed when they arrive even without seeing it in person.
What is a digital traveler?
User behavior has evolved over the past few years. Consumers have increased how much research they conduct before booking anything. A digital traveler 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. Impactful ways to drive engagement and sales include:
- understanding the digital behavior of travel users
- leveraging top trends that drive 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 analyzed how consumers make decisions within this market. This analysis has revealed how much information and how many options are available to today’s travelers. Consumers enter a loop where they are head-spun between exploring and evaluating which option is the best choice.
Travel marketers and brands must leverage buyers’ motivations and biases. In this way, they can prod them beyond the exploration/evaluation loop and into the buying phase.
Insights that lead to personalized marketing comms
User-Generated Content paints a picture of your customers. It can tell you what drove them to your business, and how they felt about the service. These insights help you understand how you can optimize and improve the journeys of prospective customers. Leveraging User Generated Content will elicit engagement from your audience and show them the value of becoming customers. By gaining personal insight into your customers’ experience, you can then personalize your content based on specific user needs.
When and where should User-generated Content be implemented?
The pandemic temporarily slowed down the travel industry, but travelers now follow post-pandemic guidelines to continue exploring. The industry is evolving so fast, and new technologies make things easier for travelers and travel businesses. Aside from social media, Google searches also play a huge role in travelers’ purchasing decisions. Holiday bookings begin with an online search, so Search Engine Marketing is an important channel for travel businesses.
One way Making Science has optimized this process is through Ad-Machina. Our proprietary SEM technology is designed to generate personalized search results based on user queries. The image below is an ad for Hotel Rio Montego, which includes a rating provided by Tripadvisor (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 place these reviews in only one place?
User-generated content can be used in:
- paid ads
- landing pages
All of these can be personalized for users interested in similar locations or facilities. From reposting posts, stories, or TikTok videos, to showcasing snippets of comments and reviews in your email comms, using UGC is a great way to ignite engagement from your travel audience.
The marketing industry is thriving due to data and machine learning tools. Therefore, we recommend implementing user-generated content alongside cutting-edge, AI technologies (like ad-machina!) to determine what your user is 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.
There are so many tools in the market today that enhance digital marketing campaigns. At Making Science, we’ve seen impressive lifts in sales with our proprietary tool, ad-machina. Download the whitepaper here and discover insights on consumer purchasing behavior within the travel industry.