I've blogged quite recently about Trip Advisor and the way you can now set up feeds to have reviews from there displayed on your own site. I recently went to an Eye for Travel Seminar (Online Content and Conversion Strategies) at WTM. Interesting day. I particularly appreciated Severine Philardeau's presentation. She's Senior Manager of Brand Distribution at TripAdvisor.She quoted some interesting stats about the value of User Generated Content (UGC) from an eConsultancy survey. From a sample of 360 website owners across all sectors (not just travel)
- 56% say it lifts conversion levels
- 77% say it increases traffic
- 42% say it increases the average spend on site
Often UGC is what tips the balance and makes someone move from engaged looker to full-on booker according to Severine.
I'd argue that that's just the start of the story.
Sometimes I think we get a bit blinkered working on the on-line enviroment. At the end of the day the on-line world is used by real people - just like in the world on the high street. When you think about it marketers have always considered customer recommendations as the gold standard for growing a business. More forward looking companies have had comments from satisfied customers in their brochures for years. As a customer whose opinion will I trust more? The company trying to sell me the product or the other customer - who seems quite like me - who has already tried it and thinks it's great? No question - it's obvious.
So... if you're not incorporating User Generated Content in your site. You are missing a massive opportunity.
What do you think? Time to get serious about allowing your customers to have a voice on your website?