By Tom Mcloughlin, Founder, SEO Travel
Whether you work directly in the marketing industry or just brush alongside it as part of your role in travel, you’ll likely have heard of influencer marketing. What was an up-and-coming trend has now developed into one of the most talked-about marketing approaches in a vast range of industries at the moment, and travel is one sector where this technique can be incredibly effective.
Influencer marketing takes on a variety of forms, from promoting products and experiences to working directly with a brand on marketing campaigns or content. The recent nature of this approach can make it a daunting prospect to start incorporating into your existing marketing strategy, which is why we’ve put together this concise guide to travel influencer marketing for brands.
What is a Travel Influencer?
An influencer is an online personality that creates content, has a dedicated following and is a known presence within their industry. A travel influencer is someone that does all of this but focuses specifically on making, sharing and promoting content relating to travel and tourism.
Travel influencers often use a variety of platforms to share their content, including YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and blogs or websites. Many are known for and specialise in a particular format of content, and the most successful influencers often have a niche that they occupy.
What Does a Travel Influencer Do?
The role of an influencer and what they actually do as part of their job is highly contended, as there is a range of different kinds of influencers that produce a variety of content and provide different kinds of opportunities for engagement. A straightforward description would be that a travel influencer produces different content for their followers focusing on sharing travel advice and inspiration, but there are lots of different tasks that fit into this.
Here’s an example of what a travel content creator may do as part of their role:
- Travelling to new destinations on either gifted or self-funded trips
- Creating destination guides in a range of formats
- Regularly updating multiple social media accounts
- Producing vlogs or videos showcasing a location or travel experience
- Promoting businesses or products in or adjacent to the travel industry, such as accommodation or tour operators
- Writing and creating reviews of travel products and experiences
- Creating content for their own channels in collaboration with travel brands to promote their offering
- Creating guest content for travel brands to use on their own channels
- Participating in marketing campaigns with travel businesses
- Interacting with followers to build relationships and collect feedback
- Researching and responding to the latest trends in travel and tourism
Many of these tasks can be utilised by brands in the travel industry and incorporated as part of the work done in an influencer marketing strategy.
Why You Should Work with Travel Influencers
Influencer marketing is one of the most contemporary approaches in marketing and continues to evolve at a rapid pace. The ever-changing nature and heavy reliance on social media as a platform may be off-putting to some travel brands, but there are plenty of very good reasons why influencer marketing in travel and tourism can be so beneficial.
The first is that it’s a great way to reach a new audience and grow your following. Whilst you’re going to want to choose an influencer that has an audience that will already be interested in your brand’s offering, they will likely have a lot of followers that may not otherwise have come across your company, which can help you to gain a lot more business.
Secondly, it’s a brilliant way to create more content you can share with potential and existing customers, whether that’s on your website or social media. Some influencer marketing campaigns involve guest content being created, which is particularly useful if this is something you currently struggle with and can help to kickstart a more regular posting schedule.
Another key benefit is that being associated with a popular travel influencer can be incredibly good for your brand image, leading to more bookings or purchases. If an influencer has followers that trust them then they will trust their recommendations, and if your brand is promoted then you instantly gain positive associations.
Finally, influencer marketing is a trend that looks like it’s here to stay, so you should work with travel influencers if you want your business to remain relevant and competitive on the market. Younger demographics in particular make a large percentage of their purchase decisions based on the recommendations of others, so you’re going to gain access to a large portion of this market by working with well-known names to promote your offering.
How to Find Travel Influencers
There’s no one simple way to find travel influencers to work with. Depending on the size of your business and the popularity of the influencer you decide to work with, there are several different ways you can go about finding the right person to help promote your brand.
Before you start your search however, it’s a good idea to have a clear plan in mind for what you’re looking for. Decide on the kind of content you’d like to produce with the influencer, the audience or platform you’re trying to target and the kind of person you’d like to be associated with your brand, and then refine your search tactics.
Do Your Research
The best way to find exactly the right influencer for your business is to do the research yourself. Travel influencers are on all kinds of platforms, so you can start by searching for relevant hashtags on places like Instagram, Twitter and TikTok and identify accounts with large followings that use these hashtags and meet the criteria you’re looking for.
If you already engage with content from others in the travel industry then you may already follow influencers that might be a good fit for your brand. And even if they don’t want to work with you on a certain campaign, they may be able to offer recommendations for other influencers to contact.
It can be useful to research your competitors and see whether they have done any influencer marketing in the past. The majority of travel influencers work with lots of different brands to create a range of content and promote lots of different products and experiences, so this can be a brilliant way to find content creators to work with that you know will have a following that is interested in your brand as well.
There may also already be existing round-ups of the best influencers working in different areas of the travel industry, which can be useful if you’re looking to work with a more recognised name.
Look at Your Followers
In an ideal world, every travel influencer you approach is going to want to work with your company. But this isn’t always the case, and you’ll definitely benefit from finding influencers that have already heard of your brand.
One of the best ways to do this is to look at your followers and customers and see whether there are already influencers in the travel industry that engage with your existing content or have previously booked a holiday with you. This only tends to work for larger companies, but can be a very efficient way to begin building an authentic relationship with an influencer and develop a mutually rewarding partnership.
Use a Database
Various online databases allow companies to access information about influencers from a wide range of industries, which can be an incredibly useful place to start if you’re launching an influencer marketing campaign. Many of these databases require you to sign up or pay a membership fee to get access to this information and put you in touch with influencers, but if you’re serious about this marketing approach then it can be an incredibly worthwhile investment.
Contact an Agency
‘Influencer’ has become a significant job title in its own right, meaning that many people who work as content creators and influencers are signed to an agency that manages their work with other brands and provides direction for the content they share. Many well-known travel influencers are part of agencies, so researching these and getting in contact to ask about opportunities is another great way to find an influencer to work with your brand.
5 Ideas for Travel Influencer Marketing Campaigns
Now you understand the role of a travel influencer, why you should work with them and where to find them, you’re likely wondering how you actually go about planning travel influencer marketing campaigns. There’s a huge range of different approaches that we can’t cover all of in this post, so we’ve rounded up five of the best approaches to kickstart your brainstorming.
One of the simplest but most beneficial ways to use travel influencer marketing is to hire an influencer to create guest content. This could be anything from a series of blog posts to a social media account takeover or piece of video content, or even a feature in your email newsletter.
Guest content not only gives you more content to share with your audience, but it provides a fresh perspective that can be very convincing if it’s promoting your offering. It also benefits the influencer by sharing their name with a new audience, and if they notify their followers of the guest content then your brand will also likely receive attention from a new audience as well.
From official adverts to short clips shared on social media, video is one of the most effective formats when it comes to travel marketing. Using influencers in video campaigns is a great way to bring a fresh perspective to your content and improve your reputation by featuring a well-known figure in your advertising material, both of which will boost its impact. Whether you’re sharing the content yourself or have commissioned an influencer to produce their own video mentioning your brand, it’s a classic approach to influencer marketing that has been successful many times over.
In the travel industry, a wide range of influencers work with brands on gifted trips. The details of these trips will be decided on an individual basis, but usually an influencer is given a free travel experience in exchange for sharing their experience with their followers and promoting the brand as they do so.
Gifted trips come in a variety of formats, and the content that an influencer shares whilst on the trip will often be decided with the brand in advance. If you have the budget for it, it’s a fantastic way to grow your following and boost your reputation whilst also benefiting from the recommendation coming from a figure in the travel industry that people trust.
One of the classic formats for influencer marketing involves working with an influencer to promote a product or service. This promotion may come in different formats depending on the channels where a travel influencer is most active, but is a very simple way to reach a wider audience and boost your bookings.
Of course, this method really only works if the influencer genuinely wants to promote your travel product or service and feels that it is right for their followers. It’s important to do your research before approaching travel influencers with ideas for this kind of campaign and be prepared to face some rejection if your offering isn’t viewed as ‘right’ for an audience.
Finally, if you’re working with a travel influencer then a simple idea for a campaign is to organise a giveaway for their followers. Offering a trip or travel experience as a prize is a great way to motivate more people to take an interest in your company’s product or service and create excitement around this, as well as grow your audience through exposure on an influencer’s profile.
The conditions for a giveaway are decided by the brand the influencer they partner with, ranging from simply following social media accounts to submitting photos or stories to enter. If you choose the latter then this is also a great way to collect user-generated content which can then be shared or used as part of other marketing strategies.
Looking to work with influencers? Exhibit at World Travel Market London 2022 to connect with influencers who will help you elevate your brand’s social media presence!
Influencer marketing in the travel industry is an area that is full of new possibilities, which means that there is an approach out there for every kind of company. Whilst finding the right influencer to work with may be time consuming, once you have built up a relationship and gained a reputation as a good brand to work with, it’s easy to keep dipping back into this technique to create a huge range of content and campaigns and keep reaching new audiences.
If you’re a travel business looking to dip your toe into the water of influencer marketing, get in touch with SEO Travel for a chat and to find out more about the range of marketing services that we offer.