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User-generated photos are 5x more likely to convert customers vs. non-UGC content. In fact, key stats show that marketing that uses user-generated content, or UGC marketing, is 50 % more trusted among millennials than other forms of traditional media or advertising. Additionally, marketing material that includes UGC has a 4x higher click-through rate and a 50% drop in cost-per-click when compared to traditional advertising.

Why? Because consumers are increasingly seeking authenticity in everything they do and the power of peer influence has a pivotal role in the purchase path, particularly when it comes to booking travel. Consumers are hugely influenced by their peers, especially in the social media realm, and this is why UGC is becoming one of the most trusted touchpoints during the travel research phase and an important deciding factor when it comes to booking one destination over another.

So what is UGC and where does it fit for DMOs? 

UGC is 'user-generated content', and it does exactly what it says on the tin; it is content that is created by users, rather than the brands themselves, and used by brands and destinations for marketing and communication purposes. It is also known as community generated content, consumer generated content or customer generated content, but user generated content is the most widely used term. Wow, that was a mouthful!

Did you know - on average consumers in the UK visit over 120 travel sites 45 days before they book. That is a lot of research and a very big window of opportunity! In simple terms, brands are tapping into this growing trend as a powerful source of communication and influence when consumers are researching, as this peer to peer influence has a significant impact on decision making. This strategy also lends itself well to destinations who may have limited budgets or lack the time or means to create fantastic content.

Why? Using user-generated content allows destinations to build a true picture in the visitor’s mind based on authentic and genuine storytelling from the visitors themselves, and some destinations such as Visit Indy, now utilise a 100% UGC marketing strategy and have done since 2014.

In 2017, Visit Scotland took it one step further and opened a pop-up digital travel agency where travellers could craft a customised experience entirely based on a huge library of user-generated content. Customers could browse other travellers Instagram pictures of their visit to Scotland and plan a holiday based on those pictures. We think this is just fantastic, and the results included growth of Instagram followers by 23% month-over-month, and an increase of overnight visits to Scotland by London-based Millennials by 34%!

At last year's #DTTTCampus, one of our workshops involved understanding how to use user-generated content and exploring how destinations can incorporate this content on their own social media pages to generate engagement, counteract negative perceptions of their destination and ultimately attract more visitors.

Nestled comfortably in a colourful deck chair inside the historic beachfront Lido in Jersey, Molly from Visit Pittsburgh and Amrita from CrowdRiff talked about using user-generated content in your blog, website, advertising and more, to transform people’s perceptions of your destination.

WhatsApp Image 2018-09-20 at 14.26.53

Here are some key takeaways from the workshop;

  • Create photo prompts - also known as 'Instagrammable places' in your destination and most importantly, make sure to include the hashtag you want people to use
  • Create an ambassador position - this doesn’t have to be a paid position or use celebrity influencers. In fact, it’s better if it’s not - Instead, just focus on getting local content creators and micro-influencers involved who make really great content!
  • Engage - reach out to people who are posting about your destination and leave a comment - i.e we love your pic!
  • Explore - Don’t just follow your hashtag, follow hashtags associated with your destination
  • Signpost - Put up signs that encourage people to take photos and always remind them what your hashtag is
  • Invite - Invite people in your attraction’s demographics to invite users to your destination at special times, for unique relationships and stunning visuals
  • Instameet - Invite Instagrammers to your destination and give them a tour of all your hotspots and Instagrammable locations!
  • Don't forget! - Always ask for permission before posting and always give credit by tagging the photo

For this year's #DTTTCampus, which will take place from 13-14 June 2019 in Oslo, Norway, our workshops will be focusing on a variety of different topics from Content & Storytelling to Sustainable Growth. Subscribe to our email list to get notified when we announce our full speaker list!



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