How to Get the Most Out of User-Generated Content in the Hospitality Industry



When was the last time you booked a hotel room or made a restaurant reservation without first checking online comments and reviews? It’s a new decade, and everyone’s a critic. The opinions of everyday, regular consumers are becoming more and more impactful, and the guest experience is more visible than ever before, thanks to user-generated content (UGC).

What is user-generated content (UGC)?

UGC is marketing content created not by professionals, but by your peers and your customers. Social media posts, curated hashtags, location markers, and blog articles published by actual customers is something that all hospitality companies should be utilizing.

In most scenarios, event managers — in some capacity — are also marketing managers. Using your customers’ content to boost sales is free advertising and it takes the work off of your plate. It’s an easy way to ensure you’re getting the marketing your venue needs while still having the time to aptly book and attend to events.

Leverage your UGC

There are so many easy ways to make the most out of your venue’s UGC. First and foremost, you should be shaping the UGC your venue receives. Whether you’re working for a hotel or a restaurant, offering incentives to guests who generate content is a great way to get the most bang for your buck. Set up tabletop signs in your hotel lobby or restaurant asking guests to take selfies using a certain hashtag and tagging your venue. The best photo wins a free night’s stay or dinner for two.

Creating remarkable, Instagrammable experiences for your guests is another easy way to compel them to generate content for you. It could be something as simple as key cards or coffee mugs with funny phrases and photos on them or as complicated as a living green wall.

Show the UGC off on your platforms for added exposure but always make sure you give credit to the customer who originally posted the content by tagging them in your caption. A “hall of fame” page on your website is a fun way to repost all of the photos your guests tagged your venue in on social media. Give your guests a story worth telling and they will tell it for you.

Maximize your UGC

Once you have a handle on how to obtain UGC, it’s time to learn how to maximize it. Hone in on consumer trends. What demographic is sharing the most content for your venue? Are they sharing more food and drink photos or more photos of your venue? Are they sharing content while they’re still in your space or after they leave? During which season are they sharing the most content? All of these factors can help you determine your consumers’ strongest trends and use those trends to facilitate future marketing campaigns.

Use the voices of your guests to raise brand awareness and boost loyalty. With a little planning, your restaurant or hotel can harness the full potential of UGC to gain more visibility and hopefully increase revenue.

Need more tips?

Take a look at the recordings from the marketing sections of our recent Hospitality Event Sales and Marketing Seminar. The first section, Generating Leads with Social Media, focuses on how restaurants, hotels, and unique venues can use social media marketing to drive sales with customers and prospects. The second section, Outbound Marketing Techniques, takes a look at email marketing and cold calling.

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Fall 2020 Issue of Seated magazine.