Known for their collection of remarkably uncommon hotels, The Leading Hotels of the World (LHW) has more than 400 properties in over 80 countries around the globe. With such an extensive amount of hotels comes the need for a lot of visual content.
Just imagine, that’s about 400 different webpages, ads, emails and more that all need unique and relevant visuals to promote, inspire and ultimately encourage bookings at LHW’s properties.
Facing this uphill content battle, LHW wanted to begin leveraging the hundreds of thousands of pieces of content their guests were already capturing and sharing from their various locations.
“A lot of people are traveling to our hotels everyday, and they’re creating amazing, high-quality content — thousands and thousands of pieces a month,” said Jose Canelos, Senior Manager of Digital Product Development at The Leading Hotels of the World. “We wanted to supplement the content we were creating with these high-volume, high-value visuals our guests were sharing.”
To help them discover, aggregate and leverage that authentic guest content, they needed a user-generated content (UGC) marketing platform.
Finding the Best UGC Platform
The Leading Hotels of the World has a standard procedure they go through when adopting new tools or products. As Jose explained, “We create a business case and typically evaluate 4-5 products to determine which is not only the best technology but also which will be the best partner and strategy for us a few years down the road.”
For LHW, Stackla ticked all the boxes.
“What really set Stackla apart for us was its forward-looking technology.” Jose Canelos, Senior Manager of Digital Product Development at The Leading Hotels of the World.
“We were excited to leverage their current AI capabilities,” Jose said. “And when we saw where Stackla’s product could be in the next 5 years, it was a no-brainer.”
Implementing a Successful UGC Strategy
When Jose’s team began preparing the roll out of their new UGC strategy, they decided on a two-pronged approach that included a user-generated content roadmap and an implementation roadmap.
As Jose described, “The content roadmap laid out how we were going to aggregate and curate UGC each quarter. What hashtags and geolocations were we going to use and how are we going to pull that content in?”
This was a crucial step, since they needed to work out how this influx of visual content was going to “play nice” with the branded content they were already using throughout their channels.
“The implementation roadmap,” Jose explained, “focused on which channels we were going to show the UGC and what was going to be our phase 1, 2, 3, etc.”
Once they had a complete plan of action, they were ready to begin launching their first UGC activations.
Creating Authentic Online Experiences with UGC
In the travel and hospitality industry, inspiration is key and experience is everything. So LHW set out to first boost inspiration and engagement across their website using UGC.
“There is nothing better than our guests sharing the remarkably uncommon experiences they have at Leading Hotels with us and their friends on social media,” Jose said.
“By featuring their authentic content across our site, we’re able to show unvarnished views of our properties and tap into the local expertise of not only our guests but also employees at our hotels.”
Using Stackla to discover and curate the best authentic guest images from across various social networks and hotel locations, LHW created a ‘Trending Moments’ section on their homepage to prominently feature this compelling visual content.
They also launched a webpage specifically dedicated to UGC to serve as real-time, cascading inspiration for site visitors.
To help move potential guests from inspiration to booking on their site, LHW leverages Stackla’s ShopSpot capabilities to make the UGC on their homepage and Trending Moments page actionable.
“Stackla’s ShopSpots turn our engaging UGC into a revenue-generating tool.”
“When a user clicks on an image they really like, they’ll see this little dot that slides in and catches their attention,” Jose said. “When they hover over that dot, it will give them the name of the hotel and a little blurb about the property, as well as the location and a button that brings them directly into the booking path by landing them on that property’s reservation page.”
“We’ve placed UGC in some key areas on our website and it has really helped inspire site visitors and move people down the path to purchase. If they really like that location or property based on a piece of UGC, we can take them directly to that booking page.”
Realizing Real Business Results
When The Leading Hotels of the World first began developing a user-generated content strategy, they focused on boosting online engagement by supplementing their existing content with authentic guest content. In the months since they started showcasing UGC across their site, they’ve seen significant results.
Jose said, “Stackla made it easy to integrate our UGC tracking and tagging with our Google Analytics, so we can see exactly which images people are clicking on and where they’re going on our site after interacting with the UGC.”
”Since going live with Stackla, we’ve noticed that visitors who interact with the UGC spend 3x the amount of time on our site — and increasing the time people spend on our site often translates to increased bookings and revenue.”
Beyond helping LHW improve online engagement and bookings, Stackla’s AI-powered content curation and predictive recommendation engine, Co-Pilot, has also helped them increase the amount of UGC they’re aggregating while reducing the amount of time they spend curating and publishing it across their site.
“Co-Pilot’s AI technology helps us improve our internal processes,” Jose said. “In an average month we’ll aggregate about 10,000 pieces of content. That’s a lot for a couple of people to go through and approve everyday. Co-Pilot allows us to focus on about 2,000 of those pieces of content based on what we’ve previously approved; what type of images they were, where the location was, as well as what pieces of content have performed well with our audience in the past. Co-Pilot substantially helps us cut down the time we spend curating content, by about 33 percent.”
Building on the Success of UGC
Now that UGC has proven it can drive results across their website, The Leading Hotels of the World is planning to expand its use to their other online and offline channels.
“We want to start transferring the success of our UGC web instances into our email marketing and Facebook ads,” Jose said.
In the meantime, they’ve already started to display guest content on live screens at the LHW office and LHW hosted events as a unique way of greeting and engaging office visitors and event attendees. It also serves as a good reminder for hotel managers to remember to ask that their guests tag their holiday photos with the #LHWTraveler hashtag in order to be featured on the website, lobby screen or event screens for others to see.
“The thing about UGC is that there is so much being created all the time — and it’s completely free,” Jose said. “There are so many different ways we can use and reuse it — the possibilities are really endless.”