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Influencer Marketing

Influencer Trips 101: How to Get It Right

Influencer brand trips are back in full swing! Let's discuss how it works and the benefits.
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If your TikTok For You Page is anything like mine, you’ve been seeing a wave of brands taking influencers on all kinds of lavish vacations, ranging from the F1 Grand Prix in Miami to a dreamy villa stay in the Italian countryside. 

It’s safe to say that influencer brand trips are back in full swing, as the world has slowly recovered from the pandemic. But are influencer trips still worth the investment for brands? Let’s talk about it.

How do influencer trips work?

Influencer trips became popular largely due to the trailblazing fashion retailer, Revolve. Since the beginning, Revolve leaned heavily into influencer activations, such as exclusive events and its famously extravagant #RevolveAroundTheWorld trips, to spread brand awareness and foster community — and it was wildly successful. In fact, Revolve’s Chief Brand Officer, Raissa Gerona, revealed in 2019 that a whopping 70% of the brand’s sales were driven by influencers. 

It’s no surprise other brands started taking a page out of Revolve’s playbook by inviting influencers on luxurious getaways. But how does it all work?

Typically, rather than paying influencers to attend, brands will plan an enviable itinerary and offer influencers to come for free, with everything from flights and accommodations to food and excursions covered by the brand. While it is dubbed as a “free” trip, most times, influencers will be required to produce specific content deliverables during the trip.

Content creator Alisha Marie explains all the ins-and-outs in her YouTube video below. 

The influencer trip controversy

Lately, influencer trips have been shrouded in controversy, as consumer reactions have started to vary from excitement to outrage. While many are happy for the influencers who get the opportunity to have these amazing experiences, some audiences feel that these extravagant trips are out of touch and distasteful — especially during a time when many are struggling financially. Plus, some comment that this type of content makes them feel very distant from the creators, who typically post more relatable content, such as chatty “Get Ready With Me” videos and casual outfit-of-the-day posts from the comfort of their bedrooms. 

Some also feel that lavish influencer trip content is overdone. Even Revolve’s Raissa Gerona revealed that the brand will deprioritize influencer trips from now on. She explained, “Trips will always be a part of what we do, but we’re not going to do them as frequently — just because that content is over-served to the consumer on social media, across every single platform. It’s really important for us to evolve. And that’s me and my team’s focus now and for the next coming years.”

However, it’s clear that many brands still see a lot of value in influencer trips. If there was little business impact, brands like Tarte Cosmetics, Benefit, and NARS wouldn’t dish out seven-figure budgets for these grand activations. So, let’s talk about the key benefits of hosting an influencer trip. 

The benefits of influencer trips

It’s no secret that influencer trips cost a pretty penny. Think about it: the brand is footing the bill for all of the first class plane tickets, the luxurious accommodation fees, the decadent meals, the exciting activities — and typically not just for the influencer, but also for their +1. 

So, why do brands do it? 

Believe it or not, influencer trips are a bang for your buck.

Although brands may be cashing out thousands, if not millions, of dollars on these influencer trips, oftentimes, it’s still cheaper than working with each individual influencer to post 1-2 times on behalf of the brand. 

Because brands typically invite bigger creators on these lavish getaways, you’re getting more for less when you consider the price you’d have to pay each individual creator for the amount of content they’re creating on the trip. 

For example, Tarte Cosmetics invited TikTok’s “it-girl,” Alix Earle (5.6M followers), to its Turks and Caicos influencer trip. In a standard sponsorship, Tarte most likely would’ve had to pay her hundreds of thousands of dollars alone for the amount of content she created on the trip. Instead, Alix got a free vacation, and Tarte was able to build a buzz online through the content created by Alix and dozens of other popular creators.

@alixearle Day 1 was a successs … wish us luck today! 💓🏝️ #trippinwithtarte #tarteisland #brandtrip #umiami ♬ Young Folks - Shindig Society

But that also doesn’t mean that brands need to have a million dollar budget to host an influencer trip. According to Business of Fashion, newer startups are spending less than $100,000, inviting smaller groups of creators they have relationships with and selecting flagship destinations to travel to. 

Influencer trips are a content goldmine.

Although creators can make any location look amazing in their content, these trips add a camera-ready backdrop to their already-exceptional content creation process, ensuring they’ll produce high-quality content for your brand. 

Plus, these trips are chock-full of Instagram-worthy moments, whether it be the hotel room decked out in your brand’s products, the gorgeous tablescape at the welcome dinner, or the luxe yacht party. Because of this, each influencer will most likely post an abundance of non-sponsored content on top of documenting the getaway for their required deliverables.

This goldmine of influencer-generated content (IGC) can then be repurposed across all of your branded channels, including organic social, paid social, email, website, and even out-of-home activations. And because IGC is so diverse, you can hyper-target your different audience segments with content that resonates better, ultimately boosting your performance. 

Influencer trips skyrocket brand awareness.

With a schedule jam-packed with fun activities, exciting excursions, and five-star meals, influencer trips can yield some of your brand’s most viewed and talked about content — which undoubtedly will boost your brand awareness. Particularly with the rise of TikTok, content from influencer trips are getting millions of eyeballs as influencers constantly live-document the trip and give plenty of exposure to the brand before, during, and after the event. Typically, all of these posts are complete with signature branded hashtags, driving even more engagement. 

Additionally, most influencers have friends in the same profession and their audiences love to see them together. So, taking these friend groups on luxurious getaways will encourage more of their followers to check out your brand.

Influencer trips are the perfect place to start building deeper relationships with creators. 

Influencer marketing is a relationship game. By hosting trips for your top influencers, you can reward them with cool experiences, meet your favorite brand partners in person, and ultimately build deeper relationships. All of this will turn into more authentic partnerships down the line.

Tarte CEO, Maureen Kelly, says it best: “Every day, brands make decisions about how to spend their marketing budgets. For some companies, that means a huge Super Bowl commercial or a multi-million-dollar contract with a famous athlete or celeb. We’ve never done traditional advertising, and instead we invest in building relationships and building up communities.” Tarte Cosmetics, famous for its #TrippinWithTarte influencer trips, has now hosted over 20 trips since 2015 because it pays off to build long-lasting relationships with influencers. 

By building an engaged community of influencers, brands can:

  • Inject social proof and authenticity into your brand, which helps resonate with your audience better
  • Entice others to join your community
  • Create evergreen relationships with consumers to encourage repeat purchase
  • Differentiate yourself from your competitors

But just as it is with any influencer activation, it’s extremely important to choose the right influencers for your brand trip. Because consumers want to see authentic content, it’s important to stay relatable to both your brand’s audience and the influencers’ audience. 

For example, if your influencers have built a following based on luxury and extravagance, it makes sense to take them to the Ritz and gift them designer goods. But if their audience follows them for comfort and relatability, take a more thoughtful approach to stay true to what your influencers are known for. 

In sum, influencer trips are still worth the investment. But it’s important to focus on authenticity and relatability, even as you plan a nice getaway for your influencers. Focus on providing meaningful experiences for influencers so that you can build a community of brand loyalists, all while boosting brand awareness and collecting a goldmine of content.

Need help strategizing your own influencer trip? Talk to an expert from our Agency Services team.

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