Better Storytelling is Key to Reach Millennial and Savvy Travelers

A light breeze blowing through a set of palm trees, the sun hangs on a backdrop of crystal clear cerulean blue, waves gently ebb from the shore, a wash of relaxation pours over you. Exhale. Sounds amazing, right? This is the type of experience that is instantly conveyed when looking at nearly 36 million photos with #vacation on Instagram.

This is also the type of compelling content travel brands are desperate to create. Modern travel marketers are realizing the power of visual user-generated content (UGC), or “earned content,” and putting it to work across all marketing efforts.

With the prolific volume of consumer-generated social images found on Instagram alone, brands may be missing a huge opportunity to put that authentic, affordable content to work on their own sites.

The Travel Corporation, which operates a portfolio of more than 25 branded packaged travel operators, faces a challenge in marketing to its next generation of potential customers.

Brett Tollman, CEO of The Travel Corporation, admits that millennial consumers require a deeper level of connection outside of traditional marketing channels in order to engage with the packaged tour sector. To build that relationship with young travelers, The Travel Corporation is turning to deeper narrative storytelling in its marketing and consumer outreach.

Tollman said at the Skift Global Forum in New York City that he is placing a higher value on narrative, influencer outreach in this year’s marketing campaign, pulling in a spectrum of social media influencers with a combined reach of 16.2 million followers.

And he is not the only one to recognize the power of this generation. Skift developed a Millennial Travel Report that debunks myths of the so-talked #selfie generation.

Download the Millennial Traveler Report from Skift

User-Generating Content = Visitor Engagement

Destination Canada’s articles, such as one featuring Instagram photos of Algonquin Provincial Park, help create a sense of realism about the country, that only user-generated content can do.

“User-generated content might even be a bit surprising and we can break those stereotypes both from Canadians and those who have visited Canada in the past,” said Jon Mamela, chief marketing officer of Destination Canada.

Visit Greenland and Discover The Palm Beaches  — emphasize travelers’ photos on their sites and in Greenland’s case, its entire site is essentially a dashboard of social media posts and photos featuring the destination.

But we also chose destinations that have retained their voices on their site through content that they produce and control. User-generated content is about striking the right balance with the stories a destination wants to tell and too much user-generated content can muddle those stories.

There’s also been a shift in the last two years from static billboard tourism websites — promoting tourism and hospitality partners with lots of banner ads and generic descriptions — to more story-driven portals that feature original content that the tourism boards produced.

Where does your User-Generated Content Strategy stands?

Excerpts of this article were extracted from Skift's Destination Marketing blog.

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