Social media experts at hotel companies said user-generated content is the wave of the future, which is why they’re creating and influencing Instagrammable moments and asking for permission to use photos taken by guests for marketing purposes.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Sometimes the best way to show off what a hotel has to offer is by using photos taken by actual guests.
That’s why social media experts at hotel companies are finding ways to influence what guests post on social platforms on-property, and are asking for permission to utilize user-generated content on hotel websites.
Sam Trotter, senior marketing strategy manager at Charlestowne Hotels, said his team attempts to influence Instagram moments through interesting design elements.
This includes creating areas at the company’s hotels “where guests can interact with those pieces on their own and then hopefully put it on Instagram and tag us,” he said.
Charlestowne’s smaller properties rely heavily on user-generated content on Instagram because photos taken by guests “tell the story we want to tell on Instagram,” Trotter said.
Guests take great photos of the hotel and the local area, which Charlestowne then shares on social platforms.
“We’ll re-gram them and tag them and put our brand voice on top of it,” he said.
RLH Corporation hasn’t done much in terms of finding ways to influence what guests post on social media, but the company is starting to experiment with it, said Dan Schacter, director of social engagement and public relations.
“We’re starting to have the conversation: What is that Instagrammable design element? Is there a wall we want people to take photos at?” he said.
Schacter added that RLHC is playing with this idea at its Hotel RL properties.
“If you take an image and you post it on social media, maybe you’ll get happy hour pricing all day long at our bar or maybe you’ll get a free coffee,” he said.
Last year, Hyatt relaunched its World of Hyatt loyalty program and created the #WorldofHyatt hashtag to connect people, places and experiences around the world, said Brian Kraemer, director of social media.
“The name suggests access to a whole realm of generous experiences from dining to entertainment, from business to pleasure, from stays at Hyatt hotels and resorts to engaging in our guests’ lives beyond travel,” he said. “It encompasses a global brand with a portfolio as diverse as ours, and it allows a more personable, genuine relationship between Hyatt and our guests—and one that is rooted in care.”
Reposting a guest’s post is a start. Some hotels are looking to add user-generated content to their websites, which requires permission from the guest, sources said.
Charlestowne is currently working on a strategy for getting consent to post guest photos on the company’s website, and Trotter said the hope is for that to eventually include photos taken of the guestrooms.
Sharing user-generated content allows hotels to showcase an actual experience a guest had, RLHC’s Schacter said.
RLHC currently asks guests for permission to use their photos, but Schacter said the company is seeing a longer turnaround time when asking for permission, which could be because society is moving into “an era where people are more protective of what they’re sharing online,” he said.
“It (permission) usually still comes around, and once we explain fully what it is, then we’ll get questions back on why we’re asking, how we’re going to use it, if it will affect them in any way (and) what kind of credit they will be getting. But it is taking longer,” he said.
Hyatt’s social media goal is to create one-on-one experiences at scale, and the company looks for user-generated content that tells the story of the brand and is actually at the hotel, Kraemer said. There’s a lot of travel-related content online, which can make the process of finding these moments time-consuming.
“Finding the right stories, captured the right way, and then getting the permissions to use them can be a very challenging process,” he said.
Kraemer added that there are endless opportunities for hotels to influence guest’s social media posts, and those opportunities extend beyond “a sunset.”
“Creating memorable experiences will create UGC; bringing a location into a property will create UGC; caring for our guests will also do the trick,” he said. “After all, UGC shouldn’t just be limited to a sunset. Providing someone a special meal or a phone charger, or fixing something that had the potential to go wrong will often create a moment where a guest will take to social channels to talk about the experience.”