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Social Media and UGC

3 Travel Brands Making Waves with Authentic Guest Content

Every travel marketer knows that you need to sell the experience if you want to sell a destination or accommodation, and there is no better way to do that than through visual content. Between the aspirational landscapes, the ‘gram-worthy meals, and the just out of reach weather, travel experiences basically sell themselves.

With over 233 million photos tagged #travel on Instagram and 72 percent of people posting pictures to their social networks while traveling, user-generated content has become a trusted source for people planning their next trip.

User-generated content has become a big part of any travel company’s marketing strategy—from the planning stage, to the time spent on site, and even after the trip has concluded.

Here are 3 travel brands that use authentic guest content:


Renowned hotel brand Hyatt is a great example as to how hotel brands can stay relevant by engaging with their audience through the use of user-generated travel photos. The company launched social.hyatt.com, a place where users can upload images that feature guest experiences during their stay at any of the nearly 600 Hyatt hotels and resorts across the globe.

This unique social channel allows prospective travelers to scope out details for their next vacation, whether or not they have a specific locale in mind. The site gives users the chance to scroll through inspirational experiential filters like beaches, golf, family-friendly, and weddings.

The digital hub seeks to show people possible vacations, and booking options, while capitalizing on the social proof that comes along with using user-generated content. Hyatt knows that if someone documents the great time they had at the pool in Waikiki, the next wave of potential visitors will see the fun possibilities that lie ahead.

And because consumers are such visual creatures, the brand knows they need to keep the pics coming. This way they don’t lose out to booking agencies or online travel agents—so the use of user-generated photos works for both parties. Customers get a good sense of what they’re getting into, while Hyatt keeps viewers on the page for the full buying cycle.


Kimpton Karma Rewards was launched by Kimpton. It’s a loyalty program designed to reward hotel guests for things like mentioning a specific hotel or restaurant on social media.  Members of the Karma Rewards program can earn and redeem points with over 60 hotels affiliated with the brand—including Hotel Palomar and Hotel Monaco.

Kimpton knows that social media and traveling are a marketing match made in heaven—with hotel guests being a broad, rotating pool of potential storytellers.

Karma Rewards members also gain access to certain Karma perks, which may include complimentary Wi-Fi access, Raid the Bar, spa credits, dining deals, and the ability to earn nights for free. Members may also personalize their preferences to include room-type, as well as the smaller details like their preferred type of pillow through the program.

Despite the fact that Kimpton Hotels fall within the broader umbrella of the InterContinental Hotels Group, the Karma program will continue to operate separately from the IHG Rewards Club.


Having introduced PlusPoints, Marriott is one of the higher-profile companies in this lineup to embrace the strategy of visual UGC. The Marriott program gives members points for engaging with official Marriott Twitter handles and using the brand's hashtags on Twitter and in Instagram posts.

Marriott also has multiple iterations of their rewards programs, meaning customers can pick and choose which benefits work best for their traveling needs.

The differences are laid out in a three-tier pricing structure. Here's a look at the breakdown of Marriott Rewards:

  • At the lowest tier, you'll get Silver. You may reach Silver status by staying in a Marriott Hotel 10 nights per calendar year, or you can host a qualifying event.
  • Next, is the Gold level. You'll gain access to gold privileges by staying in a Marriott hotel 50 nights per calendar year.
  • And, at the top of course, is Platinum, which requires visitors to stay overnight 75+ times.

With more than 4000 properties worldwide, the Marriott Group’s portfolio of hotels is very impressive, so, if you're a jet-setter or traveling professional, you have plenty of opportunities to get out and see the world, all the while, earning tons of points.

That said, Marriott’s rewards program is more of a traditional means of earning rewards through continued loyalty, the mega hotel chain has long been plugged into the social media scene. Their Instagram feed boasts breathtaking pics of hotels worldwide, and the brand spends much of its marketing efforts “listening” in on what people are posting (publically, of course) during their stays.

Marriott uses this information to get a better sense of their guests’ experiences, as well as to leverage on site, UGC—which allows other guests to see what the Marriott experience is like through the eyes of the guests themselves.

3 Travel Brands Making Waves with Authentic Guest Content

Capturing the attention of your audience is tricky in the crowded space of hospitality and travel. As one of the most popular categories on social media, it's a challenge to differentiate between potential customers and those who just enjoy looking at beautiful images on the internet.

But, because travel captures so many different facets of our collective imagination--our inherent curiosity and sense of wonder, travel brands from hotels and tourism companies have a really massive opportunity.

Travel brands also benefit significantly from leveraging user-generated content. People post every day, from every nook and cranny of the world--and with destinations that speak for themselves, there's no reason to use UGC.

If you're newer to the UGC game, check out some of our resources. From social marketing tips and tricks to boosting engagement through influencers big and small—Pixlee can help. Contact us today to get started with a free demo.

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