Luxury hotels develop marketing strategies to ensure that their property looks and is portrayed just right, exactly as they (or their hotel marketing agency) planned, so it’s understandable that the prospect of using user-generated content (UGC) – in all its unprofessional, unpolished, sometimes off-kilter glory – can be a little scary. However, according to research firm L2, hotels that integrate UGC into their Instagram feeds generate six times the engagement over those that don’t. So, not only can it be done – the hotels we profile below prove it – it should be done, as part of any well-rounded hotel marketing strategy.
From a devoted UGC microsite to a defined UGC gallery that’s an essential part of W Hotels’ photo galleries, here are three ways top luxury hotel brands are integrating UGC with marketing strategies that align with their very high-end brands.So you think luxury hotels can’t use user-generated content (UGC) because it’s not polished enough? Take some notes from the Four Seasons, Hyatt, and W Hotels.
1. W HOTELS UTILIZES UGC IN THE FORM OF GUEST PHOTOS
Every luxury hotel brand spends a fortune on the meticulously set up room and architectural shots of their properties. Unfortunately, we all know that these polished marketing photos don’t always reflect reality. W Hotels has an interesting approach to this dynamic. When you’re browsing properties on their website, there are two photo galleries for each: one, full of professional photos, and another, called Guest Gallery, which comprises photos from guests – shots of rooms, window views, close-ups of (real!) food, and more. They even include the original poster’s caption, Instagram username, and the photo’s date.
Takeaway for Hotel Marketers: Both professional and UGC photos have their place, but keep in mind, the younger the consumer, the more easily they can tell the difference. Give people the chance to peel back the curtain and see your property through the eyes of other guests – they’ll appreciate it.
2. HYATT AND THEIR USE OF USER-GENERATED CONTENT VIA SOCIAL MEDIA
Hyatt has a full microsite dedicated to UGC that’s built around their hashtag, #WorldOfHyatt. On the creation side, this allows guests to simply use the hashtag to be included on the microsite (though there’s a filtering process) or, for those without an Instagram account, upload to the microsite directly. People browsing the site, considering staying with Hyatt, can sort by different Destination Inspirations like “Family Friendly,” “Beaches,” and “Golf,” giving it an almost Pinterest-like feel for those in the dreaming phase of the traveler journey. Visitors can also narrow their searches by sorting by locations and brands.
Takeaway for Hotel Marketers: UGC may originate on social media, but that doesn’t mean it has to stay there. While the resolution may not be high enough to include in your print collateral, don’t be afraid to incorporate UGC photos on your website.
3. FOUR SEASONS AND THEIR SUCCESSFUL UGC PHOTO CONTEST
Even a brand as buttoned up and devoted to evoking luxury as Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts sees the value – and power – of UGC as a part of their social media marketing strategy. Focus on Four Seasons (and the accompanying hashtag, #FocusFSchallenge) was a relatively straightforward UGC photo contest. And yet thousands submitted entries. Perhaps wooed by the hefty prize: Three winning photographers each were awarded a six-day vacation to two different Four Seasons properties. While other hotels do contests with a primary focus of getting guests to promote the property to their friends, Four Seasons took the smart step of defining ways to then use that content, including sharing some of the images with their more than 600,000 Instagram followers.
Takeaway for Hotel Marketers: Some people will use your hashtag, but if you’re hoping for a lot of engagement and, in particular, harnessing those who are staying at your hotel at the moment, you have to add both on-property marketing to make them aware of the promotion and an eye-catching incentive to encourage guests to take that extra step.