Hamilton Island’s Multi-Channel User-Generated Content Strategy Drives Over 3,000% ROI

Global travel destination proves a picture’s worth more than a thousand words.

When you’re situated in the heart of one of the world’s natural wonders, you attract visitors from all corners of the earth. Australia’s Hamilton Island is THE global holiday destination for travelers looking to explore the Great Barrier Reef.

As you can imagine, there are no shortage of traveler photos and videos being taken at one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Understanding that real visitor photos are more credible with potential travelers than expensive professional photography, Hamilton Island wanted to make this authentic customer content a core part of their multi-channel marketing strategy.

“We’ve been very lucky that visitors have always wanted to share and interact with us,” says Aida Merdovic, Director of Online for Hamilton Island. “We see about 4,500 hashtagged Instagram posts each month about the island.”

To do so, they looked to Stackla’s leading user-generated content (UGC) platform to help them launch multiple marketing initiatives focused on achieving three core goals:

  • Re-engage past visitors to drive return trips
  • Inspire new prospective travelers to book a trip to the island
  • Make the Great Barrier Reef more accessible to people everywhere

Social Hub Provides Real-Time View of Authentic Visitor Experiences

The Hamilton Island team works to weave UGC throughout its communications. Its strategy: spotlight guest perspectives, allowing their voices—and especially their photos—be the focus of brand communications throughout the travel purchasing funnel.

To help inspire prospective guests and build purchase intent with returning visitors, UGC is now a central component of the redesigned Hamilton Island website. A curated ‘Live from #HamiltonIsland’ social hub, powered by Stackla, features posts from current guests and gives potential visitors a real-time view of the island’s vivid scenery—as well as blog posts and other content generated by the marketing and online team. Filters for activities, accommodations, events, and so on also help guests find the content they care most about, making it easier for them to envision their own stay.

“Not only is this user-generated content reinforcing our brand messages through guest endorsement, it’s also strengthening the destination’s social following—a community made up of over 150,000 dedicated fans across both our Hamilton Island and qualia accounts,” Merdovic says.

UGC is helping to inspire not just prospective visitors, but Hamilton Island employees as well. To help remind its Sydney-based sales team of the experience they are selling, Hamilton Island displays unfiltered social content from guests on large screens in its reservations call center.

This real-time view of what guests are experience on the island every day enables sales consultants to engage more authentically and deeply with prospective guests beyond the transactional process. “The consultants love having a constant reminder that they’re not selling nuts and bolts—they’re selling the dream,” says Merdovic.

Sharing Memories and Re-engaging Past Guests

To celebrate one million visitors, Hamilton Island used Stackla to ran a three-week competition, asking past guests to share their memories using the hashtag #HIRememberWhen on Instagram, Twitter or via direct upload on their website.

“We hoped that by asking past guest to reminisce about their experiences we would evoke a feeling of nostalgia that would compel them to re-visit the island and, overtime, inspire new visitors to book a Hamilton Island holiday,” said Merdovic.

They asked past visitors to share, and share they did. Thousands of people submitted photos of their Hamilton Island holidays. The memories people posted were shared over 2k times, reaching 6.7 million impressions and resulting in 4x the average web traffic to a campaign page.

Not to mention that this winning photo won Chris Jones and his family a trip back to Hamilton Island’s Yacht Club Villas where this touching moment was captured.

“We never envisaged the campaign would be so successful at driving the immediate response that it did,” said Merdovic. “To put this into perspective, these are the kind of results we would expect from a well-funded tactical campaign or major annual event taking place on the island.”

Hamilton Island saw an impressive 3,814% return on investment (ROI) from their #HIRememberWhen campaign.

[clickToTweet tweet=”See how @HamiltonIsland got 3,814% return on investment (#ROI) from their #HIRememberWhen UGC campaign” quote=”Hamilton Island saw 3,814% return on investment (ROI) from their #HIRememberWhen UGC campaign.”]

Facebook Ads That Really Resonate

Like most businesses, Hamilton Island also uses Facebook ads to attract new visitors to the island. Again, instead of using costly commissioned photography, they wanted to use the relatable, real photos their guests were already freely posted on social media. By featuring the images people actually want to engage with while they’re scrolling through their Facebook feeds, they could increase the amount of engagement their ads received.

Using Stackla’s Rights Management workflows and Facebook ad plugin, Hamilton Island was able to easily request and gain permission from travelers to use their content, then seamlessly create Facebook ads using the approved UGC from guests.

The result? Hamilton Island’s Facebook ads featuring user-generated content received three times higher click through rates as their branded Facebook ads at one third of the cost per click. So not only did their UGC-powered ads achieve higher engagement rates, they also cost less – the ultimate win/win.

[clickToTweet tweet=”#Facebookads featuring user-generated content saw 3x higher click-through rates than branded ads.” quote=”Facebook ads featuring user-generated content received 3x the click-through rates as branded ads.”]

Blogs with Social Proof Drive Online Bookings

Having achieved impactful results from infusing UGC into their landing pages and paid ads, Hamilton Island decided to test the UGC waters on their travel blog.

Leveraging the buzz created by the International release of David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef series, Hamilton Islands invited a number of guest bloggers to write about their experience of the reef and it’s surroundings.

They encouraged bloggers to include pictures they took during their time on the island and used Stackla widgets to display ‘Live from #HamiltonIsland’ UGC as social proof for potential travelers.

“We strategically placed user-generated content on each blog to show that these magical experiences are accessible to everyone, not just professional travel writers and photographers,” said Merdovic.

The blogs featuring visual UGC produced on average 50% more bookings than blogs that didn’t contain any UGC.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Blogs featuring visual #UGC produced 50% more bookings on average than blogs containing no UGC.” quote=”Blogs featuring visual UGC produced 50% more bookings on average than blogs containing no UGC.”]

To learn more about how Stackla can help your brand attract, engage and convert consumers with user-generated content, fill out the request demo form below.