Leveraging the Power of Earned Content for Your Hotel

By R.J. Friedlander Founder & CEO, ReviewPro | February 25, 2018

No doubt your hotel is already generating a wide variety of content whether for your website, your social media channels, or digital marketing campaigns. Based on this information a future guest builds up an image about the experience they are likely to expect at your hotel, which helps them when making decisions about their trip. Content can be divided up into three key areas. They are all are important and serve distinct purposes:

Paid content is content a business purchases such as cost-per-click and display advertising, listings on online travel agency sites and social media advertising. The business has high control over the messaging, but the content has lower trust with consumers because they know it comes from a marketer who wants to sell them something.

Owned content is content a business owns and controls, like its website and blog, social media profiles and the content it posts on them. The business has high control over the messaging, but owned content has only moderate trust with consumers because, as with paid content, it comes from a marketer.

Earned content, also called user-generated content, is content posted by other people about a business. It includes guest reviews and ratings, media and blogger coverage, and social media shares, likes and comments. A business has lower control over the messaging because it originates from other people, but earned content has higher trust because it comes from consumers rather than marketers.

This type of content is not directly generated by your business, but instead it is produced by users of your product, your guests, detailing authentic and real feedback in the form of reviews, blogs, social media interactions, or even feature articles, depending on who they are. However, it is useful to view it as being indirectly generated by you, because the foundation of the positive sentiment begins with the great service received at your hotel.

Great service should mean great reviews, and you want those reviews to impact on as wide an audience as possible. Social media plays a vital role to this process: one of the first things people want to do when they have had a positive experience is to hit the 'share' button. This is one of the most powerful ways you can harness the power of earned content.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.