‘Crowd insight’ and the future of UGC in travel
July 4, 2018 by Matthew Charles
From travelling to eating to online shopping, crowd insight – through user generated content – has never been more important.
Travel is in a unique position to make the most of the crowd insight phenomenon. What’s so special about crowd insight and why is it now so crucial to see through the eyes of the crowd?
Discover the exciting future of a user driven world.
What’s it all about?
Crowd insight comes in the form of user generated content (UGC) which Wikipedia defines as “any form of content created by users of a system or service”. Essentially any form of online footprint made by users of a service, from reviews to Instagram photos to personal blogs.
The key being that it is produced by regular people and specifically not by marketers or people employed by a brand.
By and large this means unbiased, pluralistic and user driven.
This has led to a revolution in the way people eat, travel, buy, sell and generally conduct their lives. UGC has created the ascendence of what we call ‘crowd insight’ – a phenomenon now fundamental to companies across commerce.
How Crowd Insight has transformed travel
The beauty of UGC in travel is that it improves the travel experience for everyone.
Peer opinion has eclipsed brand messaging – booking platforms defer to reviews, star based ratings and user photos.
All of this user input helps hotels adjust their service, making accommodation and booking travel more trustworthy for consumers. It’s life and death for booking companies in the crowd insight game, but the bright side is it’s never been easier to understand the needs of customers.
On another level crowd insight has improved the whole experience of travel for travellers, from the moment they step out the front door to returning home.
Limited time and budget? You can discover the best attractions and invest your time and money in rewarding experiences, vouched for by other like minded travellers. It’s rare the traveller that doesn’t have at least a quick scan of TripAdvisor or Google before booking a restaurant or planning a day out.
The next logical step for travel companies is to harness these crowd insights and provide the content customers are looking for.
Not only improving accommodation, travel brands can also now improve the whole travel experience for customers by becoming knowledge hubs. Providing easy access to authentic UGC content increases the likelihood of positive feedback from guests and leaves everyone happy.
Who’s harnessing the crowd?
This provides a crowd curated stream of images from and for Moxy, building trust and rapport with potential future customers, earning loyalty from existing customers and even helping to promote events and facilities.
Accor’s uber hip Jo&Joe Open House has its own app for guests. There is currently only one Open House up and running in southern France but 2018 will see this concept hotel pushed out across the world.
On the app guests can interact, post events and see local POI information as well as saving booking info. The app also displays posts featuring the #Jo&Joe Instagram hashtag – none so far but watch this space.
Up a gear
Many travel brands such as Jo&Joe have dedicated POI info largely built in house and with limited crowd insight.
Fiz takes harnessing crowd insight to a whole other level.
Not only can you create maps displaying local attractions, Fiz places output the internet’s most accomplished rendering of crowd insight. Essentially, Fiz brings crowd insight into destination content for the first time.
As well as outputting UGC content, Fiz now provides ‘meta-ratings‘ on every attraction.
Our star based ‘crowd rating‘ algorithm synthesises reviews from all major UGC platforms and for the first time ever creates a meta-rating; outputting the most authoritative rating anywhere in travel and beyond.
But it gets better.
We were conscious of how reviews back up and eventually become misleading. For example, The British Museum has a 4.5 star rating on TripAdvisor. This is based on 53,000 reviews, the first dating back to 2003 (which is headlined ‘slightly disappointing’, for the record).
But what if a restaurant changes hands and gets worse (or better)? Or a museum loses its star exhibits? The early reviews will weight the rating which should refer to what you’ll find right now. Things change but online review platforms don’t.
So we developed a ‘popularity scoring‘ system. Our algorithm updates attractions every 30 days and displays a popularity score out of 100 based on the last month of user sentiment. Readers can get a better understanding and the most up to date UGC feedback available.
Destination content is essential for travel companies and so is harnessing UGC. We had a vision of combining the two, letting the destination speak through the voice of the crowd.
By instigating Fiz into your marketing and customer management, you’ll be providing fresh, dynamic and authoritative destination content for your customers the likes of which has never been seen before.
Easy to deploy. Simple to maintain. The future of travel sites.