The Ultimate Guide to UGC: Part 2 of 2

Creativity. We all thrive on creativity, but in order to sustain this creativity, splashes of inspiration need to wash over us on a daily basis, but sometimes, the watering hole dries up, and naturally, we begin to feel those first signs of dehydration, and think to ourselves, I’ve got nothing, and I’m thirsty. Not one rain drop of an idea on how to further tell my property’s visual story to the masses, but then, a virtual stranger offers you this drink called User Generated Content.

You take a swig, and immediately you feel refreshed. A current of fresh ideas flow through your mind. Then a river runs through it. This is where you, as a property, find that unique, authentic little sparkle that is your visual story.

It can be difficult to know what makes you stand out from a crowd especially when the competition is fierce. UGC, however, is always a great place to start.

As travelers are checking in and out of your property you can bet they have taken and shared an abundance of photos on social media using what else but their mobiles of course. From the fun swim in the pool, the relaxing balcony view in the guest room, the entertainment provided, to the local attractions, you name it, they have most likely shared it.

This convergence of social media and mobile technology is something we like to call the SoMo phenomenon, which can output huge opportunity if used correctly. Put it this way, these two work well apart, but together they create magic and you can look to UGC as its offspring.

So, now that this content-sharing frenzy has long arrived, it’s time to start looking at UGC as a necessity and start using it to cultivate or add to your own visual story.

Here’s how to do it.

Tell Your Story Through UGC

1. Encourage Guests to Share

The sharing aspect through social media is the mecca of all UGC. Americans spend more time on social media than any other activity throughout their day, according to a 2014 report from the Business Insider.

With over 488 million users who regularly use Facebook there are 250 million photos that are uploaded to the site every day. So, there is a high possibility that the more photos and videos your guests post, the shares are likely to circulate.

A key thing to remember is that social media is a two-way conversation. It’s important to engage with your guests prior to and upon arrival. You can encourage them to provide you with their Twitter or Instagram usernames prior. This way, before your guests have even had a chance to enjoy your lovely property you can start a conversation with them and ultimately build a connection with them which you can then use to enhance the story you share on social media.


Upon arrival is where you can encourage them to take part in your visual story. Here is where you can get creative and for example, you can offer incentives for UGC such as a free drink or a discounted meal on their first night’s stay with you.

The 1888 Hotel has done a great job using UGC to tell their visual story, connect with their guests, and overall promote who they are as a brand.

The Library Hotel NYC uses the many photos and videos guests have taken during their stay to discover what makes them stand out from different hotels and continuously engage with their guests. Most importantly, this has helped them stand out online amongst other properties


Lastly, to benefit the most from UGC it’s important to not only encourage guests to take pictures of your property but you need to also create those unique spaces to inspire guests to want to take photos in the first place. We have all had that moment where we have been somewhere and have witnessed the perfect scenery, for that perfect photo that we absolutely must have!

Once again the 1888 Hotel provides us with a great example of this. They have incorporated a designated “selfie frame” in their lobby area to encourage right from arrival to take photos inside their property and share.

They also show us that it doesn’t matter if you are a large property or small property, you can add these photos opportunities into your story and it doesn’t have to break the bank.

The Library Hotel Collection too knows how to create a photo opportunity if anyone has seen one! This unique boutique hotel chain has taken creativity to a whole new level and has decided to create a different story for each of their locations.

The image below is of Aria, their Budapest location, and as you can see, it’s loaded with unique photo opportunities. I mean, who wouldn’t want to take picture walking down those piano keys on that glamorous marble floor!

This is what you need to create for your guests. Let’s face it, everyone on social media is looking to brag about that awesome place they just visited. All you have to do is create that space and then the UGC world is yours.

2. Feature Your Wonderful Staff

The heart of your story rests with your staff. Your employees are who your guests will interact with on a daily basis and it’s those interactions your guests will remember long after the stay is over.

Loews Hotels’ digital campaign, called #H2H “Human to Human,” showcased their employees worldwide. They encouraged their employees to tweet a picture of themselves with a hand-written sign listing all the reasons they love working for the hotel chain. From this campaign, Loews increased their online interactions and engagements most notably on their Twitter account.

This is also a great opportunity to show potential guests how a day or a week staying at your property may look and feel. You may also want to consider an editorial calendar. Each day of the week you can encourage your staff to get involved and tweet or Instagram a photo.

For example, on Monday you could have your chef feature his signature dish, and on Friday you may have the D.J. or entertainment staff feature the many events you may have going on.

Whether you share a picture of an employee cooking, teaching a dance class, or your housekeeping staff creating those wonderful swan figurines from towels (a work of art, I may add) it will benefit your visual story tremendously.

UGC will also not only allow travel shoppers to see the authentic side of your property’s story but by featuring your staff this too will invite guests in through your back gate and tell them the story behind your property. Both parts of the story are equally important and travel shoppers in the end will want to visit your property and your staff.

3. Reuse Your Content and Fuel Multiple Channels

Remember the term “SoMo” from earlier on in the post? If not, as a friendly reminder it’s what we like to refer to as the convergence of social media and mobile technology. One of the great things about SoMo is that there is so much content already out there! And in our current digitally driven world you can use this to your sourcing advantage.

The great thing about content is that you can reuse it and the great thing about social media channels is that it’s easy to simply add a fresh caption to an old post in order to make your content more timely and relevant.

Multiple Channels
Although creating content is easy using your smartphone, you don’t need to constantly create and publish brand new content every time you wish to post on a different social media channel.

For example, you can start by shooting a video using your smartphone camera and then post it to YouTube and Facebook in its entirety. Then you can take still shots of interesting parts within the video using the screen capture functionality on your smartphone. Then post the photos to your property’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest pages or even your website and there you have it, your fresh content!

So next time your guests decide to get all creative and play artistic director on you by lining the eating utensils and drinking glasses exactly two centimeters away from their breakfast food, laying across that couch in your foyer as if they are taking part in a magazine photoshoot, or maybe even putting their feet in that beautiful fountain you have outside and taking a picture, let them. They are creating UGC for you and therefore adding a unique element to your visual story.

This is part 2 of 2 of The Ultimate UGC Guide.

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