Bob Dylan once sang, “The times they are a changin’,” and we’re pretty sure he was talking about marketing. Billboards and brochures are out. These days, it’s all about influencer marketing, and the travel industry is no exception. Influencer marketing is widely used by travel brands — like hotels and airlines — for brand awareness. While people might not book a trip right away, travel destinations, hotels, and airlines stay top of mind when someone is finally ready to plan a vacation.
For what it’s worth, this is the general rule of thumb across the board, especially for products with a steeper price tag. In reality, 55% of people make a purchase after social media discovery. Yet, most people don’t buy right away — they do it later on.
If you’re not tapping into influencer marketing, you’re leaving money on the table.
From lodging to luggage to boutique hotels, all types of travel brands are hopping on board the influencer marketing train. It’s not as simple, though, as (1) Find an Insta-famous traveler, (2) Ask them to post about you, and (3) Reach social media fame.
In this three-part series, we’re going to share all the need-to-know details surrounding travel influencer marketing, including:
- Influencer marketing best practices all travel brands need to know.
- Three travel brands with amazing influencer marketing strategies.
- Everything brands need to know about travel influencers.
Are you excited? We are. Let’s get started.
P.S. If you’re still learning the basics of influencer marketing and want to read more about how to plan and execute a successful campaign, you should check out The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Influencer Marketing. This will teach you how to:
- Develop a strategy tailored to your goals.
- Find and manage influencers.
- Make contracts.
- Determine payments.
- Track campaign ROI.
We might be biased because we wrote it, but we happen to think it’s the best guide to influencer marketing you’ll find anywhere online. No big deal.
6 Influencer Marketing Best Practices All Travel Brands Need to Know
1. Be Clear on How You Compensate (and What you Expect in Return)
If you want to run a successful travel influencer marketing campaign, you’re going to need to know what the investment looks like and what kind of return you can expect on said investment.
For starters, let’s talk money. Cash. Benjamins. How do you pay your travel influencers? In many cases, their payment is free swag or travel — whether you’re a luggage brand giving them free suitcases or a hotel booking app sending them on an all-expenses paid trip. In general, we’ve found that Influencers are willing to work for free if the value of the product or experience the recive is worth it to them. In this case, a free vacation might be well worth missing out on monetary compensation.
However, some influencers will indeed ask to be paid on top of whatever freebie you offer them — oftentimes requesting a rate per engagement. Be prepared to negotiate! Commonly, influencers work for a rate per engagement. The average for all influencers is $0.14/engagement. For travel influencers, it’s typically $0.17/engagement.
2. Put all of your influencer-generated content to use
We want to point out something really important, so write this down: influencer marketing is the gift that keeps on giving. By this, we mean that even though you might’ve paid an influencer once to represent your brand, you should consider additional ways you can repurpose their content and reuse it in the future. This is how you get more bang for your buck.
Think of projects like:
- Photo campaigns to be used in emails and mailer.
- Diverse images that allow you to hyper target your audience in Facebook and Instagram ads.
- Customer testimonials and reviews on your website.
In comparison to professional shoots where you have to send a camera crew to an off-site location., you have to bear in mind that influencer marketing is an incredibly cost-efficient use of your advertising dollars. Influencers act as one person creative agencies who produce content that is on par with professional quality photos, without the time and price tag associated with producing them. Plus, it allows you to target your audience better than most other types of advertising.
3. Create an Amazing — and Well-Rounded — Experience for Your Influencers, That’s About More Than Just Your Brand
For travel brands specifically, you’re going to want to build your campaign around a whole experience, and not just your individual product or service. Not only will an amazing experience help you build stronger relationships with influencers, it will make for some amazing Instagram pictures and videos that will get your target audience excited about your brand.
Later.com referenced an Instagram influencer giveaway that Tarte held. The trip included travel on private jets, food, beverages, and things to do. The total cost to them? $338,640 — and that’s more on the conservative side for a campaign like this. However, Later is quick to note that your run-of-the-mill 30-second national ad totals in at $342,000, and a one-page magazine ad will set you back about $250,000.
And these types of campaign might not even hit your target audience.
Now, this was, of course, a large expense, considering what was being given away. Depending on your own brand, the cost may very well be much lower to you. The point is this: influencer marketing is more cost-efficient, relative to other types of marketing, and it’s more targeted to your audience.
Another way to look at it? Keep in mind that for the more serious travel influencers, this is their full-time gig — not a side job or a hobby that they do just for funsies. They work tirelessly all day and night to capture and edit the very best content to flawlessly represent your brand.
4. Determine Which Platform and Content Type Will Work Best For You
“Facebook is dead!” – People
“Instagram doesn’t work!” – Other people
“Nobody uses Twitter for anything!” – Other, other people
We’ve heard it all before, but here’s what really matters: finding the social media platform and content type that works best for your brand. The platform(s) you choose will depend largely on what the goal of the campaign is and also where you’re already getting good traffic.
If you need extra help, here’s a quick cheat sheet about what works best on each platform.
- YouTube: travel vlogs, hotel tours, and generally, longer videos (think 10+ minutes). Remember, YouTube rewards you when people spend more time on your videos. Longer videos are your friend! Instagram: Story videos, high-quality landscape and scenery shots. IG Stories put you at the top of your followers’ feeds, making you stand out and extra-visible.
- Facebook: Videos uploaded natively to the platform. Videos get more engagement than images. Just be sure to add closed captioning, because most people watch them with the sound off.
- Twitter: videos and images. Twitter is a fast-moving platform full of mostly text. One simple way to make yourself stand out is to tweet lots of high-quality media.
5. Play up your brand story in order to capture your target audience
Working with travel influencers can be so positive for your brand because influencer-generated content is incredibly powerful. For instance, social content is more influential than any other kind of marketing when it comes to travelers choosing their next destination. It’s trusted even more than celebrity endorsements.
This is especially important if your target audience is millennials — which it very likely is, considering they’re our biggest generation with the stronger purchasing power.
If you want to get their attention, you have to appeal to their aesthetic desires. More than 40% of millennials consider a destination’s “Instagrammability” when trying to decide on one.
This all goes back to creating an experience, as opposed to just showing off your brand. What else can you do besides make the experience Instagrammable? Here’s a helpful hint: families and couples work really well for conversions, because they tug at people’s heartstrings and portray the emotions associated with travel.
This also means that when you’re vetting and choosing an influencer, you need one who’s on-brand with your own and also has a following that matches your desired clientele.
What does your target audience want to see? They’re going to look at your influencer content as a customer testimonial, similar to the way people look at reviews on Trip Advisor. Make sure you’re delivering the right message to them.
6. Piggyback on Trends and Seasons
You don’t always need to reinvent the wheel to get tons of additional traffic to your social media pages. Sometimes, it’s way easier to find stuff that’s trending or going viral and tag along for the ride.
Case in point: seasons and holidays! Combine forces with your influencers and create a campaign the follows the mood of the season. Is autumn approaching? That’s a great time to talk about the best destinations for fall foliage. Winter’s around the corner? Grab people’s attention by showcasing the best cities to see holiday lights.
The point is this: instead of trying to create new traffic, go where the traffic is already gathered, and ride its coattails.
Using influencer marketing can take your travel brand to the next level, and we’re here to help.