Gen Y and User-Generated Content

The following post is from Meghan Veroneau, TIG Global Marketing Coordinator.

Fact: The annual spending power of Gen Y (aka the Millennial Generation) already exceeds $200 billion.

Gen Y has integrated social media into their everyday lives, sharing opinions and seeking recommendations from across their social networks on a daily, if not hourly basis.

Why does that matter to your hospitality business? It’s simple. Gen Y is traveling frequently and looking at user generated content before they book.

gen_y_user_generated_content_tigglobal_blogAccording to the US Travel Association, Gen Y (those born after 1980) makes up 12% of all U.S. leisure travelers and those traveling in this group take and average of 3.9 leisure trips per year. Gen Yers also represent 13% of all business travelers and take an average of 4.2 business trips per year.

Additionally, Bazaar Voice released a study in January 2012 that highlighted key differences between Millennials and Baby Boomers. Key stats include the following:

  • Gen Y consults user-generated content before making large purchases (ex. electronics, cars, travel, hotels, etc.)
  • 51% of Millennials are less likely to trust reviews from family & friends over those with relevant experience versus 34% of Baby Boomers feeling this way
  • 84% of Millennials say reviews from strangers have “a lot” or “some” influence versus only 70% of Baby Boomers
  • 22% as for purchase opinions via social media – three times that of Baby Boomers
  • 39% of Millennials are going to consult user-generated content when making a hotel purchase, while 32% will for travel accommodations

Need more proof? Socialnomics recently reported that 25% of the world’s largest travel brands’ search results return user-generated content from review sites, blogs and social media updates.

While you can’t control the content being generated, you can have an influence on it. Here are our suggestions on how to do so:

Make reviews easy to give/find. If you don’t offer the functionality to leave reviews on your site directly, it might be beneficial to have a section highlighting TripAdvisor or another source’s reviews.

Get reviews from customers. Happy customers are generally willing to write positive reviews. Try putting a call to action for reviews at the bottom of email messages to the guest post stay. This does not mean you should follow Ireland’s largest hotel chain and have employees write fake positive reviews for you.

Control your online reputation. As mentioned in a previous post, you need to be aware of your online reputation and make sure you respond in appropriate situations. This will help build confidence and trust from your consumers.

Engagement. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Engagement needs to be real and needs to be deep – think of a strong multi-channel presence. If you engage consumer pre and post stay, they will be more likely to generate positive content about your location!

Embrace user generated content and influence it where possible without overstepping boundaries.

Do you already use the suggestions above for influencing user-generated content? Do agree with the study, that user generated content influences big decisions? Or do you disagree? Sound off in the comments section.

Interested in ramping up your online strategy? Check out the full suite of TIG Global interactive marketing tools, send us an email, or give us a call +1 301.841.4700(US) | +44 (0)20 3004 9468(UK).

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