Travel influencers are great for reaching the right audience and influencing and swaying travel zeitgeists and trends. As businesses start to allocate larger budgets to influencer marketing, influencers are increasing in number as well. In this blog, we provide several parameters to help narrow your search when selecting travel influencers.
What are Travel Influencers?
Travel influencers are individuals with large active followings (usually on digital media) who produce travel content. Their content informs travelers and generates leads for travel destinations. The fact is, people know that they want to travel and experience something new. But they don’t know where to go. That is why taste-makers like travel influencers are essential for any tourism board or brand who want their share of travelers. Further to that, travel influencers can influence their followers to use a particular travel agent or engage with certain products and services during a journey.
What do Travel Influencers Do?
Travel influencers travel to destinations and share their experiences with their followers. Their feedback is usually accompanied by rich visual content such as pictures, videos or vlogs. Ultimately, however, the primary identifier of an influencer isn’t the number of travel destinations they’ve covered or the number of followers they have. It is more about how influential they are when it comes to making their followers take action — be it clicking on a website, filling out a survey, or even traveling to the intended destination. An influencer’s relationship with their community is vital.
Segmentation and Targeting
Usually, travel influencers target a particular traveler segment and demographic. Often, this demographic resembles the influencer the most. For example, a family travel influencer will have a family of their own whom they’ll include the feedback and experiences of when it comes to producing content for other similar families. Other than that, travel influencers come in all shapes and sizes, likes and dislikes. From teenage travel influencers to couples, thrill-seekers to senior citizens, and oddly enough, even a 1-year-old baby traveler.
Essentially, travel influencers cut through all the advertising noise and over-promotion that frequently occurs today. That is because they are seen as unbiased and trustworthy sources of information. Travel influencers are trusted because their whole reputation depends on the authenticity of their reviews. Should they engage in any unfair promotion, their career can go up in flames. Although they do receive monetary incentives and free trips (in exchange for their coverage of an area), there is an unwritten contract between the influencer and the brand. It implies that the influencer will share their explicit and unfiltered opinion about the travel destination, even if it is negative. The travel influencers’ contract with society is to provide accurate insights into the advantages and disadvantages of each destination from the viewpoint of an actual customer. Often these influencers serve as the litmus test to whether an excursion is really worth the fuss or not.
The Different Kinds of Travel Influencers
There are many kinds of travel influencers. Here we’ll cover three. The trickster, the celebrity, and the specialist.
Your hotel gets a call from a travel influencer who offers to review your hotel for his many followers and he wants to bring his friends to test the experience with him. You investigate his social media accounts and it becomes evident that this influencer really means business. Examples of other hotels he has covered are scattered all across his Instagram account. His follower count is high, ridiculously high. So you make a deal with the influencer and buy tickets for him and his friends and they pay you a visit.
Weeks later the influencers review is up and to your amusement it’s highly favorable. What seems to be a good deal to you was in actuality a scam, and it is highly unlikely that this influencer’s review will drive any bookings for your hotel.
Firstly, the other hotels that were covered on the “influencers” page were previous victims. The high follower count? Bots that were programmed to create fake social media accounts that follow and like the trickster’s account and content.
These individuals are already famous by virtue of their profession. They include actors, musicians, sportsmen, and even internet icons. When their followers display characteristics of the right demographic, the celebrity is considered when selecting travel influencers.
Just like any travel influencer, this individual will engage in an experience with your brand, and then proceed to review it online. This entrepreneurial breed of influencers distinguish themselves from the rest by a few things.
Firstly they will attempt to arrange discounts for the portion of their followers who decide to engage with your brand. The way that this is done is by the creation of a code. For example “Travel2021.” Then they will ask you to provide a set discount for any individual who uses this code when purchasing your service/product. This way you can track the efficacy of that influencer’s review by counting the number of bookings/purchases they helped you achieve.
Further to that this influencer type has a systematic approach to their content creation. First, they produce content about your brand/destination before their arrival in order to build anticipation among their followers. Then they produce content during their trip, and lastly, the third batch is produced once they have left. The final version is where their full review and follower code are found.
Converting this kind of influencer into an advocate can prove to be a strategic advantage. If their experience with your brand proves to be highly favorable their praises for it may extend well beyond your deal with them. This may come in the form of unexpected lip service or an answer to a question such as “Which hotel would you recommend for a week in XYZ?” Essentially, with this kind of influencer, you are dealing with an opinion leader, and one positive experience on their end could translate to a lifetime of positive word of mouth for you.
Selecting Travel Influencers
Below is a quick checklist you can use in selecting travel influencers that will yield the highest return on investment.
1) Go Micro
Suppose your brand provides trips for Arab families from the Middle East. Simply opting for any family influencer who seems to know what they’re talking about isn’t going to be sufficient. For example, a European family travel influencer will enjoy an evening out wine tasting on the hills of Italy while their children explore the vineyards. An Arab family, however, who more often than not are Muslim, will shrivel at the thought of taking their children with them to see a vineyard. In this case, a Muslim family travel influencer would be ideal.
Furthermore, a senior couple whom children don’t accompany will have a much different idea of what constitutes a vacation than those who do have children. It’s therefore imperative to be clear on all the specifics before selecting travel influencers. You can segment even further by targeting the actual decision-makers in a family when it comes to travel destination selection. According to data, mothers are the key decision-makers when it comes to Middle Eastern families. So, in this case, a married female Muslim travel influencer who has children would be optimal.
Click on the following link to learn more about who makes travel decisions in the Arab household. To formulate a clear influencer marketing plan, you need to obtain precise data on who exactly your ideal market is or would be. Gulf Reps’ network of travel agencies can provide you with precisely that kind of competitive edge.
Going micro with your influencer marketing efforts is the most effective way to grow your conversions (or the number of individuals who do end up booking a trip). Going micro is also one of the reasons it would be wise to select influencers with medium-sized followerships.
2) Choose the Middle Ground When Selecting Travel Influencers
Travel influencers who truly create content for a micro niche will seldom have extremely high follower counts. The connection between these influencers and their followers is, however, highly potent. It is akin to a community of like-minded individuals who share similar lifestyles and values—a community with the influencer at its head as an opinion leader.
Influencers who veer off into the deeper end of the followership pool and start to reach millions of followers will have most likely fallen off track from their initial niche. This happens when they begin to target a larger and more generic market. This translates to less influence as that community feeling that comes with more targeted niches starts to disintegrate. Famous travel influencers such as these will come at a high price and a long list of demands should they agree to work with you. A hefty bill for an ineffective campaign is highly unfortunate.
If you decide that selecting high follower count influencers is the most suitable course of action for you, then be wary of influencers with massive fake followings.
3) Choose an Influencer You Do Not Mind Being Associated With
It is absolutely essential to very deeply research potential influencers and their history before engaging in any form of communication with them. Influencers can quickly become strongly associated with your brand in viewers’ minds. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that a proposed influencer does not engage in any off-brand activities.
The frightening part of influencer marketing is that you’re associating your brand with someone else’s personal brand. If that person experiences lapses in judgment, it could reflect badly on your business. Therefore it can be hazardous to partner with dangerously eccentric influencers unless of course, your brand itself carries with it unconventional undertones.
4) Focus on the Right Digital Metrics
Instead of relying on simple metrics such as follower counts, the engagement rate is a much more accurate metric for determining an influencer’s efficacy in digital terms. In plain words, the engagement rate is the percentage of an account’s followers who have actually engaged with a specific post. Through this metric potential influencer red flags such as unengaged followers or, even worse yet: fake followers can be detected. Generally speaking, on platforms such as Instagram, engagement rates higher than 3% are highly favorable.
Attaining an excellent influencer to brand fit is akin to having an uncountable number of well-traveled individuals suggesting your brand to their friends. In marketing, nothing is more formidable than positive word of mouth from a potential customer’s friend. That’s exactly what we strive for here at Gulf Reps—selecting travel influencers that might as well as be talking to their childhood friends. Because their suggestions always fall on attentive ears. We only work with a handful of the most successful travel influencers who have a proven ability to drive value to our clients.
To find out more about our services, you can call us at +971 (0)4 703 6333 or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org