User-Generated Content to Fuel Expedia's WOM, SEO and Sales
Once the customer input his content and uploaded his photo, he submitted his post for Expedia's review. Using the Compendium software interface, Packard's team was able to review the post before making it live. In addition, says Packard, one of the key benefits of this review process is the ability to add hyperlinks, where applicable. If a post mentions a hotel, particular travel package, flight or other travel service that can be booked via Expedia, her team can hyperlink the corresponding text.
"We know that conversion rates increase as a person gets further down the booking path," says Packard, so Expedia's goal is to always link deeper into its site to improve sales and be of help to people looking for more precise information.
After Expedia approved the post (almost all submissions get the greenlight), the customer received a follow-up e-mail to notify him that his post was live in the Travel Stories section of the Expedia site and to prompt him to share his story on his social media accounts. Again, to help customers take action, Expedia provided links to major networking sites and the structure to easily add the posts to their network updates.
Because this program is still in the test phase, Packard doesn't have the full results. But initial customer response is positive she says, and so testing will continue.
Recency and social influence are critical factors to how people conduct research and make purchasing decisions these days, Packard says, explaining that the social media component really is more important than being able to feature the customer-generated content (a kind of blog, actually) on the Expedia site.
"For us, we felt that it was important to expand our universe. We have a core set of customers, and hopefully they're loyal customers, but we want to tap into that ... acquisition portion of [social media] and who else can be influenced by the people who leverage our services."