How To Leverage User Generated Content For Travel Marketing

March 19, 2019
Zaky Prabowo (he/him)
4 min read

Ready to unleash the power of user generated content (UGC) and incorporate it into your travel marketing to increase conversions? Well, you have the right idea as most consumers agree that they value marketing materials which include UGC more than brand marketing content.

For instance, 55% of the people who participated in this survey found the UGC marketing images to be more trustworthy than the brand’s own photos which only received 45% of the vote.

Similarly, this one found 85% of respondents agreed that UGC is more influential than brand-created content.

Lastly, the insights here indicate that 66% of people trust opinions posted online. You get the picture…

What does it mean for your travel brand though? Well, it is time to leverage some of your client’s content (with their permission) to your advantage.

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What Is User Generated Content

You come across UGC daily, maybe without realizing it sometimes. It is the tour offering reviews that people write and read on TripAdvisor, Instagram images and videos of magical destinations, Facebook status check-ins or tags at a particular place or restaurant etc.

Basically, it is a vote of approval passed from someone with first-hand experience of what is being marketed. Travelers realize the value of this and ultimately regard it as trustworthy.

Peer reviews are therefore effective for marketing, mainly because they are an honest opinion and considered to be authentic.

Go Pro for user generated content

How To Use It In Travel Marketing

To Build Trust

Nowadays, travelers are choosing travel brands which embody and reflect their own values. As an example, Wellness Travel is currently seeing larger growth than regular travel in the industry. This is indicative of the overall increase in the importance of a mind-body balance people seek to achieve in everyday life.

With a move towards more conscious travel practices, it is more important than ever for a brand to really speak to the people targeted by their marketing efforts.

When travelers see that their peers have had a positive interaction with a particular experience, they are more likely to trust the brand in question.

So instead of filling your newsfeed with sales promotions, why not set up a take-over campaign? Or create space for your happy clients to fill it with some of their suitable content which is related to your travel offering.

Small group travel tour provider Intrepid Travel regularly does this and regrams their clients’ inspiring images on the platform.

Travel photo for travel marketing

To Shape Buying Decisions

Travelers read reviews to help them make better purchasing decisions. As an example before booking a tour, they likely read the reviews left by other travelers to make sure that they are positive. TripAdvisor and Airbnb are testaments to this as bookings are driven by affirmation derived from peer reviews.

For this reason, it is beneficial to build up a stellar review profile for your own travel product offerings. These could be listed on your Google business listing, website and social media platforms giving travelers the chance to see what other people have to say about your business.

To Highlight Your Travel Offering

There may be certain aspects of your travel product that you wish to highlight in the user generated content that you share.

For example, as a retreat leader, you may want to highlight certain aspects of the destination you regularly take clients to. Alternatively, a tour operator may want some action shots of travelers during their bicycle tour.

Whatever the case may be, you can guide travelers to curate the types of images you are after by letting them know what content your travel business would like to share. Explain what it is that their visuals will be used for, and stipulate that by using your hashtags, they are granting you permission to share it.

Take a look at how Visit Scotland has specified this outright so that the formalities are dealt with right away.

Happy traveler

Best Practices

Get Permission

Naturally, before sharing any content, you need to get permission from the owner. You will find most of the time that people are happy to get the recognition as well as the feature, and will readily agree to let you use it.

Remember to accredit the content to them and provide some sort of link back to their own profile. Not only does a link give credit where it is due but it also serves to affirm that the traveler is indeed outside of your travel company too.

As an extra bonus, if the link is on Facebook, the tag will be visible to their audience network too, thereby extending your organic reach on the platform.

Smiling traveler in travel photo

Make It Beneficial For Both Sides

Travelers need to feel like they are getting something out of the transaction too. At times the feature and social media recognition are enough. But on the odd occasion, consider holding some sort of competition which acts as an incentive.

An idea would be to ask your followers to post an image, which will be shared on social media, of their finished dish after your cooking class. The one that gets the most likes will be the winner, and the prize could be a voucher to spend on any of your travel products.

Added Value That Comes With Using UGC

User generated content is particularly effective on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. This is because it is where the content is being shared in the first place, plus the potential audience reach is a lot higher.

With the platforms come certain rules, one being that posting regularly is a must to keep your audience/followers engaged and interested. At times it can become a stretch to constantly come up with the content that your audience so regularly craves.

This is when it becomes even more beneficial to post user generated content, as the creation part is taken care of for you.

Small group tour travel


Ultimately, when you have user generated content worth sharing, it means that you have made your clients happy. That alone is a signal that you are achieving your business objectives and should tick a box or two.

Letting your customers know that you value their opinion means they will trust you too. At the end of the day, using UGC for travel marketing can be a highly effective (and inexpensive) way to promote your travel brand.