How to manage user-generated content

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Toady, content isn’t king – it’s everything.
by AMBER WOJCEK

When you hear “content” you may think of blogs, webpage copy or the posts you publish on social media. That’s far from where content begins and ends, however. Content is any word or visual that has an impact on guests and potential guests. It’s the text on your hotel’s “do not disturb” signs, the copy on your hotel’s Wi-Fi login page and every word that people say about your business online.

There are two types of content business owners must manage: brand content and user-generated content. Brand content is what you control, such as how you describe rooms on your website or the copy you write in email marketing campaigns. Then there is the user-generated content you cannot control. This is content you must respond to, such as online reviews and social media posts.

The posts published online by your guests have a huge impact on the way their followers view your brand. Word of mouth remains the most credible form of advertising. According to Nielsen, 83 percent of people trust recommendations from friends and family, and two-thirds of people trust opinions posted online.

As much time and planning should be spent managing user-generated content  (UGC) online as you would spend on creating and distributing branded content. You know that the words that you write for your brand should always be thoughtful, well-planned and consistent with your overall marketing strategy. But how do you manage what someone else is writing about you?

HOW TO MANAGE UGC

The first step in managing UGC is finding it. Use a platform that allows you to connect all of your social media accounts, review websites and OTA listings to receive notifications any time content is posted about you online. When you see that something has been written about your hotel online, assign tasks to employees at your hotel to make sure every post is responded to.

Don’t forget to encourage happy guests to leave reviews for your property online. You can use physical reminders on-property, but we find the most success by implementing a post-stay email campaign. Following check-out, send an email to request feedback with a link to your TripAdvisor or Google business reviews page. Sending personalized emails can be automated with a reputation management system.

HOW TO ENGAGE WITH UGC

As a best practice, you should respond within 48 hours to guest feedback and posts online. In fact, 84 percent of customers expect a reply to a social media comment within 24 hours. Likewise, 45.6 percent of customers expect their negative online reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor or Google to receive a response in three days or less, and half of those expect a response to their review within 24 hours.

Delegate someone at your hotel to respond to every review – not just the bad ones. Comment on social media posts on your profiles or that you are tagged in. Keep a spreadsheet to track potential social media influencers for future partnerships, such as an Instagram sponsorship or blog review of your hotel. Note their name, links to their social media accounts, follower counts and how you think you could partner in the future.

HOW TO LEVERAGE UGC

Social media is one of the most effective ways for hotels to earn direct bookings online. Indeed, 84 percent of millennial travelers look to social media for travel inspiration. You can use the content that people post about your hotel online in social media posts to inspire others to book with your hotel.

Wherever travelers are searching, 86 percent of them think that online reviews are important. One of the most influential things a hotel can do on Facebook is to highlight others’ positive experiences through sharing positive reviews. Because social media posts only reach a percentage of your total following, you can create a post using a positive review and schedule it multiple times in the future to make every review work for you longer.

When you receive negative reviews, frame your responses with your future guests in mind. Remember that 65 percent of travelers are more likely to book a hotel that responds to traveler reviews, and write your response both to help the unhappy guest and to make future guests feel comfortable booking with you. Your review responses should be personalized to the issues raised in the review and express your continued pursuit of excellence.

The most exciting impact of positive reviews online is the direct impact they can have on your ADR. In fact, 76 percent of travelers would pay more for a hotel with a higher review score. By encouraging positive reviews and amplifying them on social media, you can build a value story for your hotel and optimize pricing based on improvements to your reputation online.

PLAN FOR SUCCESS

By managing, engaging with and leveraging content posted online about your hotel, you will see a real impact on both your reputation and your revenue. Track content on every website that you appear on, including OTA reviews and social media posts. Respond to all the user-generated content about your hotel thoughtfully and consider how you will be able to use each piece of positive content to your advantage. By putting in place a robust content management platform built for hotels, you’ll be able to take control of content posted about your hotel online and use it to attract more guests.

Amber Wojcek is the marketing coordinator for Travel Media Group, which provides innovative digital marketing solutions for hotels. Contact her at amber.wojcek@travelmediagroup.com and follow her on Twitter at @TravelMediaGrp.

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