The Power of Influencer Marketing in the Travel Industry

Have you ever found out about an amazing destination via social media, and made plans to travel there despite never having heard of the place before?  Such as after looking at the picturesque scenes constantly being uploaded to Instagram.

If you answered yes to this question, then how would you like to find out about the motivation behind your decision?

In simple terms, you were inspired by a travel Influencer.

These days, it’s hard to find a social media stream that’s not filled with enticing videos about travel destinations. Most of those videos revolve around the experiences of people and groups having the time of their lives in jaw-dropping places. And often, it’s the popular individuals we follow on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, etc. behind the production of this content.

The Rise of Travel Influencers & Millennial Voyagers

Bloggers and social media superstars are being flown around the world by companies, so that they can rave about how great their trip to Thailand or how comfortable their experience of flying economy class with a certain airline was.

What’s great is that the majority of travel Influencers are keeping the content they post about their experiences authentic. For instance, Ben Schlappig, who is known to promote luxury airlines and international hotels, tells his followers when the service isn’t up to the point. Though he states that he’s been paid to fly, etc. there’s a degree to authenticity involved. Most companies are happy to put their product to the test.

Here’s an excerpt from his blog:

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It is because of this authenticity that potential travelers are booking flights and getaways based on Influencers’ recommendations.

And it’s a win-win for companies too. People are less frequently  motivated to action by banner ads anymore. Plus magazine adverts have become costly in recent times. Skipping all that, travel companies can show what they can offer through a trusted individual. On top of that, travel Influencers can have a lasting impact on people, much more than a magazine advert would.

It’s also working out for travel brands because millennials now comprise the majority of their target audience. They’re impressed when their peers and favorite personalities document experiences and critique or applaud services. Word-of-mouth is also key to inform friends about great choices or warn about poor service and products.

As a result, travel firms aren’t shying away from partnering with Influencers. For instance, Budget Traveller Kash Bhattacharya, who challenges people to have a different mindset about travelling on a budget, partnered with Expedia. The content he created was based on the best way to kill 48 hours in Madrid with only £139 in your pocket.

Bhattacharya blogged about his experience, and created Instagram posts as well as a vlog. The content was promoted to more than 20,000 followers on different social media platforms. It received great engagement, increasing the visibility for the him and the partner companies.

Expedia simply plugged their brand into the social sharing space by partnering with an Influencer, giving itself the chance to be top of mind for budget travelers.

But it’s not just full-service travel agencies leveraging Influencers to build brand affinity. Even newspaper and magazine outlets that have a travel section are making use of key individuals from the traveling sphere.

News UK’s Director of Travel, Victoria Saunders, stated that they use Influencers in their campaigns all the time. On the City Guides (Insider) website, they witnessed a large spike in traffic when they placed Caitlin Moran in New York and published a piece about her experience.

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And what’s unique about News UK’s Influencer partnership is that they’ve also worked with Influencers from other industries. Saunders identified the campaign featuring the popular historian Dan Snow and Destination Canada tourist board as working out particularly well.

Advice for Travel Brands Wanting To Work With Influencers

As is evident, the importance of travel influencers is unquestionable. But how do you get them interested in working with your travel company? Below we’ve listed a few simple measures you can take to attract their attention.

  1. Reach Out TO Them

If you want travel Influencers to take notice of your company, a good start is to email or private message them to introduce yourself. Comment on the content they have recently posted if it’s related to your business, or ask for their thoughts on your latest blog publication. If you want to build a positive relationship with key individuals, you’ve got to get the initial conversation started. Show that you are interested in them and their thoughts.

  1. Think about Sponsorships

Once you’ve built up a relationship with an Influencer, you can arrange to sponsor their trip to a particular destination. This strategy comes at a higher cost, but also the higher reward of very engaging and relevant content. While this sort of interactive content is ideal, it is usually not within the realms of possibility for smaller businesses with smaller ad budgets. In this instance you might have to get more creative, such as asking for a mention and incorporating this into travel-focused content. For instance a health food shop might ask to be mentioned when an Influencer with a focus on healthy living talks about finding great dietary options on the go or in another country. To ensure an Influencer that fits your specific requirements, you can use an Influencer Marketing platform like Buzzoole and set your own budget requirements.

  1. Decide On a Social Media Platform

The platform you choose will depend on how established your brand is in the travel industry as well as on the popularity of the Influencer you’re going to work with. For instance, if you own a popular YouTube channel, you might let the Influencer create an episode for it. Likewise, if the Influencer’s blog receives more traffic than your website, you can work out an agreement where they allow you to post on their blog. Wherever there is an opportunity for mutual gains, grab it with both hands.

Final Verdict

Travel Influencers are acting more like brand ambassadors these days. So, when you work with them, it is not only your product or service but your company as a whole which will be promoted via breathtaking footage. Influencers have the talent to create fantastic visual content to promote your brand image. Remember that they will be honest about their experience with your product, however also be confident that your product can stand up to the test! Start building relationships with popular travelers in the social space, and make sure their and your brand values are aligned for maximum benefit. This will result in great content and a mutually beneficial relationship where your brand is promoted and Influencers are given the resources to create even more engaging content for their audience.

This post is also available in: Italian

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