Developing content that appeals to all types of visitors is difficult. You have to understand what each visitor is looking for and address his or her concerns without turning your website into a 30-page thesis. What if in addition to your persuasive marketing content, you had the added advantage of past and present guest developing content for your hotel website? How sweet would that be?
‘Guest Sourcing is the practice of sourcing content from guests in the hospitality industry.’ It is also known as crowd sourcing or user-generated content.
A prominent example of a travel user-generated content website is Tripadvisor.com. This website is built around the concept of letting travelers to help each other, share their experiences and plan their trips. All types of individuals who are planning trips from leisure travelers and backpackers to business travelers frequent this travel reference or advisory website. They select their destination and hotel based on the type of reviews, comments and blogs posted by other travelers.
Having guest sourced content on your hotel website, in addition, to your persuasive content is important, as people are cynical. They doubt the authenticity of ‘organization produce content’. However, not all is lost, one source of information that travelers place their trust in, is ‘fellow travelers’. Blogs and reviews posted by fellow travelers are considered ‘unbiased’ and such, visitors to website place higher value to guest sourced content. So, encourage your guests to write about their holiday experience and post it online.
In fact, there might be information about your hotel floating around already. So, the first step, you need to take is search and locate all content related to your destination and more importantly your hotel. There are different places you can locate information – run a Google search to locate blog posts and reviews, run a search on twitter to locate any threads about your hotel, look on youtube for videos of your destination and flickr for photos. Please note these are just some of the websites where you can locate information. This is not a comprehensive list.
Once you have compiled this information, you have two options. The first, you can set up a blog to showcase the content producers and the information. Always give credit as it will make your past guests happy and encourage them to book with you if they visit your destination again. The second, you can be proactive and create a guest section on your hotel website where you publish these reviews, photos, travel blogs etc. This gives prospective guests an idea of what to expect.
While travelers are willing to write about their travel experience, post photos etc. online, you should not depend on it. Conduct promotional activities to generate new guest sourced content on a semi-regular basis. No one is interested in reading about a concert that happened ten years ago unless of course it is a yearly event. New updated content will keep visitors engaged and encourage them to make reservations instantly. The purpose of these activities is to have fresh and update content.
Please keep in mind that this does not mean that you stop producing content or maintaining your hotel website. It simply means that you can enhance your website by getting past guests to paint a vivid picture of what future guests can look forward too when if they choose your hotel.