One of the fundamental challenges for hospitality marketers is the need to inspire trust in people who have never met you or anyone from your business, usually from thousands of miles away. Luckily, your prospective guests are already predisposed to trust your past guests, and what they have to say about your property in the way of user-generated content, or UGC.
We have spoken about the importance of social proof and UGC before, and have even discussed some of the ways you can encourage more guests to post content about your offerings, but one of the most effective forms of user generated content, the photograph, is also one of the most difficult to encourage. So, we thought we would look at some great real-world examples of the ways you can encourage guests to take (and share) photos of your property.
Create vignettes around your property that people want to photograph
Analysis has shown that one of the most mentioned (and presumably photographed) aspects of a hotel room on social media is the view, and a quick browse through twitter shows no shortage of “view from my hotel room” style tweets.
Just arrived in #Sydney and into rehearsals for our 4 concerts at Sydney Opera House and Melbourne State Theatre. Greeted by a beautiful view from my hotel suite. #THETHE #ComebackSpecial pic.twitter.com/M3GUtUy9Tk— THE THE (@thethe) September 30, 2018
But what do you do if your view simply isn't that great? You could relocate, of course, but a less drastic option would be to create little vignettes, or styled still lifes dotted around your rooms and common spaces that make your guests think “this will impress my friends”, “that really sums this place up” or “I’d like to remember this scene”.
A clever piece of furniture, remarkable holiday decorations or even something as simple as a striking flower arrangement can do the trick:
Salvador Dali Mae West lips couch in the hotel lobby in Gunma, Japan. Not something you see everyday! 👍🏻🎨🇯🇵💋 pic.twitter.com/S6bhm7zsoU— Tony Franklin (@FretlessMonster) December 1, 2017
Show guests where the best photo opportunities are
The trend of giant yellow frames for tourists to pose in took off for a reason – it’s cute, quick, fun, and means that travellers don’t have to apply mental effort to deciding where to take their photos, and can instead just concentrate on enjoying themselves.
Pointing out to your guests where the best photo opportunities are doesn’t have to involve great big yellow boxes, if that’s not your style. A subtle floor sticker that says “great selfie spot” or even some strategic positioning of wall art with your brand's hashtag is often enough to get social media savvy travellers snapping away.
Do something innovative, amusing or unexpected
It can be tricky to figure out how to get this one right while being careful to stay true to your brand, but doing something unusual is often a great way to get social media attention. An amusing sign, innovative check in procedure, interesting decor and even a quirky bedside phone earned these hotels some social media airtime:
Our hotel room has a rotary phone...and there’s a QR code on the wall to download a video that explains how to use it. pic.twitter.com/RF2hrxD0xT— Dr. David Shiffman (@WhySharksMatter) May 19, 2018
Experienced self-check in at the hotel in Manchester for the first time today. I arrived at the lobby and no one was at the reception. Just touch-screen monitors. Entered my name and a machine dispensed my key card & room details. pic.twitter.com/MB7Bw7MhHA— Aysha Ridzuan (@ayshardzn) May 20, 2018
Go out of your way to surprise and delight your guests
Striving to surprise and delight your guests has far-reaching benefits. Guests who are looked after personally, or exceptionally impressed with how your property or team go the extra mile, are more likely to mention it in reviews, to their friends and family, and share photo evidence on social media.
You don't have to give each and every guest a personalised welcome package if it’s not in your budget, but even small touches, when thoughtful, will find their way into your guests hearts and onto their social media feeds.
After last night’s performance, we found this AMAZING road trip kit in our hotel room! Thank you so much for the gift, @HomewoodSuites ! What a cool surprise! We heard stories all weekend about how wonderful the hospitality has been in San Diego. What a great place ❤️ pic.twitter.com/r9MVTvR3xZ— Jessica Ballinger 💜 (@BallingerMom) February 12, 2018
Quick tips: Making the most of your guests’ photos
There are plenty of ways to ensure you are making the most of your property’s UGC, but with photos, there are a few key things to remember:
1. Keep an eye on your hotel’s location and other related hashtags and keywords
Just because a guest has snapped the perfect pic at your hotel, it doesn’t mean they will tag you. For guests, the name of the accommodation provider isn't always top of the list of things they want to tell their friends. To ensure you don’t miss out on great UGC, keep and eye open for posts from near your hotel, or mentioning keywords like vacation plus your area.
2. Acknowledge and thank guests for their shares and posts
Whenever you come across a photo of your property shared on social media, regardless whether you have been @mentioned or if the guest has used the correct hashtag, you still have a chance to assert your brand. Simply reply to the post from your brand’s account with a simple “Thanks so much for sharing this photo! We pride ourselves on [whatever the image is about]!”. This not only makes your guest feel appreciated, it also gives you the chance to ensure your brand is associated with the image.
3. Ask before you repurpose
Of course, it’s easy to embed and link to social media photos (as we have done in this post) but if you’re planning on sharing your guests images, its always a good idea to ask permission first – and it gives you an opportunity to politely engage in their social media conversations and ensure that all their followers know exactly where the photo they are admiring was taken.
Encouraging guests to take, and post, photographs at your property can take some work, but the reward is clear to see, not just for you, but for all those who will get to witness your property’s glory across social media, and be inspired to visit in real life.