How Visit Phoenix Creates a Better User Experience with UGC Website Galleries
We recently chatted with Chad Hays and Julia Hill of Visit Phoenix about how they updated their website with user-generated content (UGC) to create a better experience for web visitors.
After revamping their site with CrowdRiff galleries, Visit Phoenix is now averaging a 40% longer time on page. To hear their full story, you can watch the recording of the webinar.
Don’t have time? No worries, here’s a quick summary of what they had to share:
Being Able to Spotlight More Members on their Website with More UGC Visuals
Before starting with CrowdRiff, Visit Phoenix, like many other DMOs, used one standard hero image in most of the headers on their web pages featuring one of their members.
This is a snapshot of what the header on the Hotels and Resorts used to look like:
They’d switch out the photo every couple of months to feature another member, and change it up. However, while undeniably a gorgeous photo, one single picture was just never enough to give a true representation of the volume of resorts and hotels the region had to offer.
Now, by creating UGC website galleries with CrowdRiff, Visit Phoenix can showcase not just one, but five, six, or even eight members.
“We’re able to showcase more of our resorts, more members, and more engaging pictures. A lot of them are directly from travelers,” said Chad.
So at the top of almost every page on the Visit Phoenix website, you’ll find a different gallery of beautifully curated social photos and videos.
“Instead of having just the one [picture] of the top ten things to do, we’re able to showcase more of a variety of the top ten attractions, utilizing CrowdRiff before [the user clicks away].”
Transforming the Look and Feel of Listings Pages
Visit Phoenix is a member-based organization, and as such, has directory listings for their members on their website.
But listings pages and directories, while essential and helpful for travelers, aren’t always the most interesting to look at. That’s why Chad and Julia were never big fans of the traditional listings pages.
“That’s not what people use our site for. They’re not going to click through a bunch of business listings,” said Chad.
Instead, Visit Phoenix puts blog posts or articles above the listings. This adds some additional context and stories to bring their member organizations to life.
For the categories that don’t have content written about them, the team creates UGC for website galleries to feature on listing pages where visitors can browse and get “visual inspiration” from, as Julia puts it.
And of course, these photos include CTAs. So even if someone doesn’t scroll all the way down to browse through the listings below, they can get the same information in a visual experience.
Using Clickable Captions Over Images to Navigate Web Visitors
One feature that Visit Phoenix has taken amazing advantage of is the CrowdRiff Call-to-Action feature. These are clickable captions that overlay images, which allow them to link relevant listings, blog posts, or other content related to a specific picture.
“Except for the homepage, we utilize CTAs all throughout the website,” Chad explained.
That way, these UGC website galleries not only allow Visit Phoenix to beautify their web pages, but also help guide people to the content they want to see.
These CTAs are essential in helping promote their tourism partners too. Most of the CTAs in header galleries, in places like their Restaurants or Hotels pages, show pictures of their members and link to their individual listings. This way, when web visitors become enamoured with a photo, they also discover that particular business or organization.
Solving the Problem of Sourcing Authentic Seasonal and Event Photography
Even though Visit Phoenix had a decent photo library of city and desert scenery before using CrowdRiff, the region’s extreme heat made it tricky to update their website visuals during the summer months. It simply gets hot to photograph popular hiking trails and outdoor adventures all year round.
But surfacing UGC through a platform like CrowdRiff means you always have unlimited fresh visual content — because people are always taking and sharing photos online.
In the past, Julia had found it difficult to find great event photography — a problem that was solved when they tapped into UGC.
“With event images, we don’t have an exceptional catalogue,” she explained. “I’ll lean on social content when I’m promoting special events. So CrowdRiff helped us have almost an infinite number of usable authentic event photos and this really freshened up [the Events] page. We would never have been able to have this type of variety otherwise.”
Maintaining 225 UGC Website Galleries
In the beginning, the team at Visit Phoenix took their time rolling out CrowdRiff on their site. They took 5 months slowly implementing galleries on key pages, and then eventually on their entire website.
To populate the 225 UGC website galleries now live on their site, Visit Phoenix tracks numerous terms (like hashtags, users, keywords, and more) to pull content into CrowdRiff.
“We have over 600 tracking terms. We use an excel sheet on our end to keep it organized, so when we think about what attractions we have [to showcase], we can go to our list and look at everything we’re pulling in,” said Chad.
Julia and Chad log in twice a day for just five minutes, to discover and curate the new visuals coming in. If they stumble upon something they like, but don’t want to make live right away, they save it away in an album.
So, when the time comes to update one of their pages, Julia and Chad already have a selection of images ready to go that they’ve been tucking away for months.
“The more popular a page, the more often we update [its gallery].”
Some are updated monthly, some quarterly and some annually. It depends on analytics and what content is available, but they usually update 2-5 pages a week.
Fun fact: Updating one of their most popular pages, the Things to Do page, is set as recurring meetings in both of their calendars.
Visual UGC Can Take Your Website to the Next Level
Thinking about a web make-over? Read our ebook Keeping Tourism Websites Relevant in 2019, which takes a look into what tourism brands can do to create engaging web experiences that'll turn their websites into the go-to resource for any visitor.