Posted by: montegroup | May 13, 2008

UGC – an Interview with

So, how can tourism marketers leverage User Generated Content (UGC)? This is one of the questions that always comes up during meetings…alongside the Web 2.0 and social marketing questions.

I had the opportunity to have Susan Edds from contribute to the blog by providing us her insights on UGC and the opportunity that not only exists for tourism marketers but all online marketers in general.

Daniel: How can CVB’s and marketers leverage UGC?

Susan: Dynamic and increasingly becoming accepted as a reliable form of information, UGC is a great platform for CVBs and other marketers to leverage for recognition. First, the largest (and oftentimes best) asset a CVB has is the inhabitants.

Simply put, residents are a city’s best ambassadors, as they are more familiar with their surroundings than any guest editorial writer. In turn, they are likely to provide better information on local activities, restaurants and culture. Other relevant marketers, such as hotel properties, may leverage UGC because the users are actively leaving tips and reviews on hotels, for example. Oftentimes, the hotel advertisers on VirtualTourist already have a present on our site, through our members’ tips; many of which are positive reviews. The members communicate to one another and share their experiences through their tips and also the forums postings.

Daniel: Many marketers express concern about UGC and not being in control, what are your thoughts on this?

Susan: The easiest comparison to make to VirtualTourist is TripAdvisor. Both are great websites with UGC on travel experiences. While TripAdvisor allows anonymous reviews, VirtualTourist requires that all travel tips be attributed to a registered member. This filters out many negative, ranting-type reviews left in the heat of the moment by a traveler with a bad experience. VirtualTourist members generally accentuate the positive, and are more likely to leave good feedback.

Daniel: a recent study by eMarketer shows that only about 37% of US adult internet users are active in social networks, do you see this increasing in the near future? How does this stat compare to VT’s users?

Susan: The VirtualTourist audience actively uses social networks. 61.4% uses Myspace, 13% uses Facebook, while 4-8% uses Bebo, Orkut and Ning. Since we are a UGC site that requires membership to leave tips and forum postings, our users are much more inclined to be an active user of other social networks in comparison to other travel properties. Daily internet use is an integral part of our users’ lives.

Daniel: What kind of opportunities does VT offer for cvb’s?

Susan: A CVB is the most obvious and relevant advertising fit for VirtualTourist. The site is organized into destination categories. We have had over 30 CVBs advertise on our site in the last year. One placement we offer exclusively to CVBs is the “Featured Destination,” a weekly fixed placement on our homepage. The idea is to drive traffic and interest to your destination by clicking through to the corresponding VirtualTourist travel guides, as well as supply traffic to your CVB’s website by offering a link within the same placement.

Daniel: VT has lots of cool features, is there anything new in the works?

Susan: We are re-launching the site in 6 months with some additional features. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide specific details regarding the new functionality, but the site will have a completely different look and feel. The site will be more “Web 2.0” and the users will be able to contribute content even more efficiently and quickly.

Thanks to Susan and for taking the time to participate.

Below are some examples of the ads that Canadian Tourism Commission ran this past ski season.

Ski Canada



  1. […] – bookmarked by 6 members originally found by spargo1 on 2008-10-22 UGC – an Interview with – bookmarked by 3 members […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: