How airlines can create better customer experiences with user-generated content

How airlines can create better customer experiences with user-generated content

The airlines understand more than most companies that a strong brand will lead to success. However, airlines must be able to differentiate themselves and build meaningful relationships with customers, regardless of how diverse the market is.

Airlines are striving to improve not only their inflight experience, but their customer journey as a whole. Many airlines are using user-generated content (UGC) as a source of content to improve their content marketing strategies.

The social networks have been a great place to share almost every aspect of our lives. Many of the most captivating and compelling images of people’s trips are shared on these platforms. There are 438 million photos tagged #travel alone on Instagram, and 89% of people would post a photo of a positive experience at a travel destination. This is what people want.

More than half of consumers (56 percent) say user-generated visuals are the content they most want to see from brands. So why not give consumers what they want? With 67 percent of people saying they would post about a positive transportation experience, there is plenty of authentic and compelling traveler-created flight content out there for airlines to leverage for their content marketing efforts.

Here’s how!

Create more eye-catching digital ads

The travel sector is expected to spend more in digital ads than consumer packaged goods (CPG), which will amount to approximately $13 billion in the U.S. Consumers are more interested in ad spending. How can airlines create captivating images that are relatable and stand out on people’s social media feeds? Keep their advertising creative fresh.

Air France, one of the most innovative brands in the world, has started to look to customer content for trustworthy and relatable visuals.

Air France wanted to diversify their visuals, and offer a more relatable perspective for their target audiences. To find out if user-generated content resonated better with their social audiences than standard stock images, they ran Facebook A/B tests.

After testing these Facebook ads for six popular flight destinations over seven months, Air France found that the UGC images outperformed their branded stock images across all core metrics, ultimately producing between 4-11 percent higher average click-through rates (CTR), 3-21 percent lower average cost per click (CPC) and 2-9 percent lower average cost per acquisition (CPA) .


Drive more direct bookings

Online conversions are an important goal for marketers in all industries. It can be difficult to find ways to increase bookings in the travel industry, and especially for airlines.

Expedia estimates that people visit 38 websites before booking travel. How can you convince people to book through your website and not the 37 other websites they are likely to visit? Does your airline content marketing strategy recognize this challenge?

The Airbus A380 is the largest passenger airliner worldwide. It’s a feat of modern comfort. Airbus has placed powerful social proof on its booking page to encourage travelers to indulge in this “accessible luxury”.

Their “Passengers say it best!” UGC gallery shows real customers traveling in style on Airbus’ A380 aircraft. Want to know how spacious the seats are, what their premium suites look like or what kind of in-flight bar experience you could have? The answers to all those questions are right there in unvarnished, FOMO-inducing visual detail — especially for visitors that click through to see more and are met with a larger social wall .

60% of people believe that user-generated content is most important when it comes to planning travel. In addition, 52 percent of people who have made travel plans after viewing social media images and videos shared by friends or family members indicate the potential impact of UGC on booking pages.

Make your in-flight experience more social and shoppable

Airlines have the unique opportunity to connect with their guests, no matter how long or brief the flight. This kind of uninterrupted access to a captive audience is something that very few brands have. Do you make the most of this opportunity?

Today’s airlines offer more than movies and shows. The short-lived Song Airline, which was founded in 2003, was notable for its lack of a class with a personal entertainment system. Many Song fans, including myself, loved that the entertainment systems let passengers play trivia with other passengers. Two-hour flights could seem like twenty minutes because you’d be completely engaged in a trivia game with the passenger sitting 22B. This was before email and social media were as common.

Imagine each passenger being greeted to their seat by the smiling faces and beautiful images of other customers who have just traveled to their current destination. What if, upon interacting with these images, passengers could find and book accommodations, excursions or tours with your airline partners at their destination — directly from the traveler content in their in-flight entertainment consoles? What if they could post photos in-flight and see them pop-up on everyone’s seat-back screens? Talk about creating social, customizable and value-added customer experiences!

Send more inspiring and personalized emails

Marketers need to be able to use email as a powerful, but sometimes boring medium. Finding ways to personalize beyond just names can be difficult. Although brands may have the tools to improve email personalization, many don’t have enough relevant content. Marketers can create personalized and engaging emails by taking advantage of the unique content that is shared on social media every day.

Jetstar celebrates its company birthday every year with a birthday sale. A series of marketing emails are sent to promote the big annual sale. Jetstar sends out marketing emails that go beyond the usual content about the sale and includes destination inspiration. This is done by personalizing the email with images from real travelers.

Perhaps they are aware that 86% of people are interested in traveling to a particular location based upon social images from their friends?

User-generated content can have a positive impact on your airline’s content marketing strategy at any stage of the booking process. A well-executed omnichannel UGC strategy can make a big difference in helping airlines fly higher.