Solo travel, online booking, and budget-friendly flight and hotel options are just some of the ways that the travel and tourism industry has evolved over the years. Despite COVID-19 temporarily slowing travel plans, it's not surprising that demand for travel will soon return to more normal levels.
One concept that immensely impacts a consumer’s decision to travel is user-generated content (“UGC”). Those passionate about travelling will find inspiration to book their next vacation by viewing UGC from other tourists on where to stay, eat, and explore.
How is UGC shaping the travel marketing industry to help make a destination become more desirable? We look at a few of the most prominent travel trends we are seeing today and, more importantly, how UGC plays a significant role in all of them.
As more people search for information with smartphones and computers, the demand for high-quality content that can be easily downloaded on these devices is increasing.
UGC isn't just appearing on website landing pages and social media channels, but it has also begun surfacing in online travel brochures.
With a mix of travel tips, alluring images, and thoughtfully designed templates, online travel brochures provide tourists with everything they need to know in one compact document.
As individuals decide where to go next, they want an informative document that they can refer to at any time and that can easily be shared with others. Alongside descriptive copy, UGC helps communicate the experiences and culture that prospective travellers can expect.
This image of Edinburgh Castle, taken from a visitor's perspective, captures the medieval castles and narrow cobbled alleyways that the beautiful country of Scotland is known for. Natural photos, like the example above, are used to elevate textual information in an online brochure, giving individuals a sneak peek of the experiences they will have.
Five years ago, Finland or Iceland might have seemed like rare destinations to visit. Today, there is an overabundance of individuals and influencers sharing these unique places on their platforms through social media posts, travel blogs, and reviews.
Beyond word of mouth from family and friends, consumers pay close attention to what is shared online, otherwise known as social proof. Scalable and personalised imagery captured by other like-minded individuals is the best form of social proof out there.
Suppose an individual leaves a must-see review of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland coupled with a photo. In this case, it is guaranteed that a few others will be inspired to relive that same experience due to the credible and highly positive review.
Finland boasts the true Nordic lifestyle with fresh snowfall, ice hotels, and majestic wildlife—no wonder they are considered one of the happiest countries in the world. This up-close and personal photo of a traveller being pulled on a dogsled is something we don’t see every day. With this example, UGC gives us a glimpse into the raw beauty and adrenaline-pumping activities that make Finland an ideal destination year-round.
What has more of an impact than a mundane Trip Advisor review? A review from a travel influencer. Travel influencers reach large numbers of users on social media, post consistently, and use their platform to persuade others to visit a destination.
An average visitor can share a picture of themselves staying at a 5-star hotel in London on a third-party review platform, but travel influencers who post these same pictures on social media will inspire larger audiences to follow in their footsteps because of their authoritative figure.
With a 46% increase in influencer marketing in 2020, tourism marketing organisations have increasingly picked up on this trend. Tourism organisations are leveraging influencer relationships to generate interest and help build up a demand for their destination.
Travel influencers, many of whom have visited dozens of countries, fare better than branded content because they can speak from experience. As a result, individuals can leverage their breadth of expertise by deciding whether a destination is worth visiting!
Content posted by travellers, such as influencers or the average globe trotter, can act as powerful social proof when turning examiners into explorers.
The key to success in an ever-changing industry like travel and tourism: monitor, evaluate, and adapt to change. Tourism marketing organisations should be ready to implement applicable UGC trends into their long-term marketing strategies in order to stay competitive and relevant.