Imagine it’s your first time in a new city. You found the perfect hotel in an ideal part of town, and your check-in experience was welcoming and informative. Upon entering your room, you’re greeted with a stunning view of the new city you’re about to explore. It’s exhilarating moments like this that we in the hospitality industry aim to create and share with our guests.
As one of the world’s largest luxury hotel groups, The Leading Hotels Of The World (LHW) focuses on demonstrating what is remarkably uncommon about our properties. Every one of our hotels create uncommon experiences for our guests, but it can be challenging to tell personal, human stories about all 400 of our hotels spread across 80 countries.
Letting Travelers Tell Your Story
When looking for a new way to connect with guests and tell our brands’ stories, we realized the best place to start was with our customers themselves.
Today, people not only share their hotel and travel experiences on social networks, but also make future travel decisions based on the user-generated content (UGC) they see online. Recent data from Stackla revealed that 48 percent of people post about places they visit at least twice a month, and 43 percent have made travel plans based on a friend’s social post.
We can do our best — spending lots of time, money and resources — to create brand images of certain activities or moments at our hotels, but when guests have real experiences and personally share them it’s much more powerful and has been incredibly impactful across our online experiences.
Tapping into that fresh stream of unique and influential customer content has allowed us to show our properties and global destinations through the eyes of our guests.
Elevating the LHW Experience
To integrate authentic guest content across all our digital channels we partnered with Stackla, leveraging their UGC platform to discover and curate tens of thousands of real guest images, then dynamically display them across our website.
By creating a dedicated “Trending Moments” webpage and featured section on our homepage, we’re able to show guest experiences that are happening in real time. Site visitors can interact with the UGC images to get more post details and even be linked directly to the booking page for the specific LHW hotel in the photo. This shortens the booking path for web browsers at the moment of inspiration.
The Time-Saving Power of AI
As you can imagine, there is a large amount of content constantly being created by guests across our 400 hotels — roughly 1,000 pieces of content every other day. To manually sift through all those incoming posts and identify the best ones for our site would take a substantial amount of our team’s time every week. But it’s tasks like this that AI technology was made for, and Stackla is leading the way in AI-powered content curation and predictive recommendations.
Using Co-Pilot, Stackla’s machine learning engine, we’ve been able to cut down our content curation time by 33 percent — a significant time savings for our team. Beyond helping us quickly filter out thousands of incoming images, Co-Pilot learns our moderation patterns and makes content recommendations that continually boost our content approval rates, so we can publish better content at a faster pace.
Real Content Gets Real Results
“Trending Moments” has become a particularly popular page on our site, with users spending a lot of time looking through all of the real, visually compelling content from our beautiful properties. In fact, site visitors who interact with the UGC stay on our site twice as long as other users.
This increased web engagement is proof that when people are exploring hotel options, they’re interested in seeing the unvarnished experiences other travelers have had at the properties.
Having successfully boosted engagement with UGC on a limited number of webpages, we have now began to focus on site conversion and revenue opportunities with the recent launch of social commerce functionality. As well as expanding to more pages in order to enhance the UGC experience on LHW.com.
By adopting UGC as a core component of our digital marketing strategy, we have not only expanded the amount of visual content we have to leverage across all our channels, but have also been able to tell a more human brand story that truly resonates with curious travelers around the world.
If you want to know more about how we’re strategically using UGC at LHW, watch my live discussion with Stackla’s Mike Anderson at this year’s Digital Travel Summit in Las Vegas.
Jose Canelos is Senior Manager of Digital Product Development at The Leading Hotels of the World.