As the world’s largest travel company, Expedia helps millions of travelers book everything from flights and hotels to rental cars and excursions.
As a top booking site, Expedia understands the need to build web experiences that aren’t just user-friendly, but also engaging and relatable on a local level. For Expedia Singapore, that meant tapping into the captivating authenticity of user-generated content (UGC).
“Because user-generated content is created by real travelers, it’s much more relatable than what a brand can produce,” said Rebecca Pinnavanam, SEO Specialist at Expedia Singapore.
Expedia wanted to run a contest where travelers could easily submit photos on social media for a chance to win a free trip. However, this presented one big problem for the SEO team: if people submitted images on third-party social networks, that wouldn’t do anything to improve on-page analytics for Expedia’s website domain – which is where their success is measured.
“All the traffic and engagement we drive with these types of campaigns need to be on our website to benefit our domain. If everything is on social media, that’s an external channel. We needed to bridge the gap between social media and on-page SEO.”
Even though Expedia’s team loved UGC, they couldn’t run social-driven contests because of the break it caused with their SEO goals. To bridge this gap, Expedia chose Stackla to power this contest and help them achieve their broader SEO and content goals:
- Drive on-page activity: pageviews, links, etc.
- Broaden awareness and engage audiences in Asia
- Create a high-quality library of UGC for future promotions
“Travel is such a big thing on social media, especially with Millennials. With this campaign, we wanted to keep them engaged with the brand so they feel like Expedia ‘gets it.’”
Launching the #EyeWanderWin Travel Photography Contest
Looking to engage travelers but also expand their creative asset library with compelling images, Expedia partnered with Oppo, a smartphone manufacture, and Klaud9, a startup focused on providing stock photography representative of Asia’s diversity, to launch the #EyeWanderWin travel photography contest.
They called on travelers with ‘the hunger to wander, the eye for photography and a smile that lights up the world’ to submit their best travel shots via direct upload or Instagram using the hashtag #EyeWanderWin. By doing so, they’d be entering to win not only a free trip to a mystery destination, but also a free Oppo smartphone and a travel photoshoot with a professional photographer.
Over the three week open contest, they promoted the competition on Oppo, Klaud9 and Expedia’s Instagram accounts and blogs, as well as across Facebook ads and in-cinema ads throughout Singapore. As new photos were submitted, Expedia used Stackla to showcase them across their campaign landing page and blogs.
“Stackla made it easy for people to submit and share UGC in a way that’s comfortable for them, while, at the same time, benefiting our site.” Rebecca Pinnavanam, SEO Specialist at Expedia Singapore
When the contest closed, over 4,350 traveler photos had been submitted and three sets of winners were chosen.
“With this contest, we were able to get photos from people in places they truly care about visiting, and they were unique. We also saved on attaining quality photos that featured ‘real people’ and were unique enough to be differentiated from the stock photos used by 10 other companies,” Rebecca said.
Generating More UGC from Contest Winners
Expedia hosted an event for the winners to reveal the mystery destinations they had each won. One winner got sent to Penang, Malaysia, another to Bagan, Myanmar and the last got to island-hop the idyllic Koh Kood and Koh Chang islands in Thailand.
At the event, each winner also received their free Oppo camera phone along with other travel swag. Naturally, each of the winners immediately started sharing more social posts about winning the contest – kicking off the series of photos they’d be publishing while enjoying their winnings.
Once they embarked on their travels, each winner was asked to take and share photos of all the food, selfies and action at their travel destinations – guaranteeing a continued stream of great, diverse UGC. Not to mention, each set of winners got professional travel photos taken by the folks at Klaud9.
As part of the terms and agreements on the contest, all photos taken on the winners’ trips were free for Expedia, Oppo and Klaud9 to use in future promotions. Upon their return, the winners and Klaud 9’s photographers submitted a total of 800 fresh quality photos to Expedia captured from the three trips.
For Expedia Singapore in particular, this content was critical in creating a more localized and personal online booking environment. As Rebecca put it, “We want the local Singaporeans to be able to relate to our content. We want them to say ‘this brand understands me; they understand what I like when I travel.’”
“With this large library of authentic traveler content, we can better localize our online experiences for our Asian markets,” Rebecca said.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Using @Stackla, Expedia built a large library of authentic traveler UGC to help localize web experiences” quote=”Using Stackla, Expedia built a large library of authentic traveler UGC to help localize web experiences”]
This can be especially important in the unique markets across Asia, where specific experiences that are tied to travel, like food, are very important. “Because we’re a travel company, we don’t normally create content around food. Yet, food is an important part of traveling for many people in Singapore and Malaysia… so there’s a gap there that UGC can be really effective at filling.”
“So far, we’ve been actively building our inspirational, localized travel blogs as the avenue to answer the specific interests of each market in Asia. We started with Singapore’s travel blog, we now have 8 across Asia and continue to think of ways to better represent local interests and holidaying habits. UGC is a great way to layer on and create a peer influenced experience by featuring everyday travelers,” Rebecca added.
Expanding Expedia’s Influence and Driving Results
With this one campaign, Expedia received over 4,350 photo submissions, providing a large library of high-quality, authentic images for them to tap into for future webpages, advertisements and campaigns. Not to mention, they were able to organically attract travel influencers to their site.
“Each travel influencer in Singapore has agency representation and typically charges a lot of money to publish a single post about your brand on their Instagram,” Rebecca said. “With #EyeWanderWin, we were able to get a Singaporean travel influencer with over 130K followers to post two photos with our campaign hashtag for free because she wanted to win. The fact that we were able to attract these kinds of influencers at little cost simply because they engaged with the campaign message and our business was an added benefit for us.”
[clickToTweet tweet=”Expedia improved blog traffic by +34% by featuring #UGC images from their #EyeWanderWin campaign” quote=”Expedia improved blog traffic by +34% by featuring UGC images from their #EyeWanderWin campaign”]
Another key result for Expedia? They were able to improve blog traffic by over 34 percent month over month by featuring the UGC images people were submitting for the contest. Additionally, they grew their number of domain links – a critical factor for strengthening a website’s search ranking and authority.
“Stackla helps me do things at scale. Typically, campaign development requires a lot of time and resources: writing content, finding relevant images, etc. But with Stackla, we are able to tap into resources that are already out there.”Rebecca Pinnavanam, SEO Specialist at Expedia Singapore
Going forward, Rebecca and her team are planning to launch more campaigns with Stackla focusing on further personalizing web experiences for their various target audiences.
To learn more about how Stackla can help your brand attract, engage and convert travelers with user-generated content, fill out the request demo form below.