Social media influencers have drastically altered the way brands approach marketing. Influencers have steadily grown to create massive impacts on the way audiences perceive brands and consume products. A single social media post by a renowned influencer can lead to exponential sales for a brand. The power of social media has manifested itself in influencers and their potential to make or break a brand identity.
It is only natural for the travel and tourism industry to gravitate towards influencer marketing. Travel brands have begun to rely on social media influencers to promote their products. Influencers are taken on fam trips to destinations around the world, only so they can share pictures of their experiences on platforms like Instagram. A single hashtag on a picture can have a far-reaching impact in terms of engagement for a brand.
Today, social media influencers are used to create written content, produce videos and utilise other forms of mixed media to promote a product or a destination. It is an innovative way to reach a unique audience.
The duality of influencer marketing
Projected data suggests that by 2020, influencer marketing will become a $10 billion industry. Therefore, there is little doubt that influencer marketing is here to stay. While it does have a significant impact on brands, there are potential drawbacks to this dependence on influencers.
Over the years, reports have shown that social media influencers have fabricated information online. They’ve ‘bought’ followers online, lied about their travel experiences and perpetuated false personas of themselves in the quest for fame on the online space.
Ranjini Nambiar, the CEO of Footloose Yatra Consultants says: “I believe that a small section of influencers are genuine. However, there are also a huge number of so-called influencers who are only looking for an easy way to travel for free. They do not always add value to the brand and the kind of content they produce.”
While influencer marketing has created an interesting space for engaging content, travel brands must be wary of insincere influencers who might fail to deliver what they promise. Despite a set of influencers who may not always be what they project themselves as, influencer marketing can be very beneficial to the travel and tourism industry.
How travel brands can utilize influencer marketing
There are various ways in which travel brands can optimize their relationship with a social media influencer. Some examples include:
Send them on a famil trip
A familiarization trip is essentially an all-expense-paid trip in exchange for promotion. By sending influencers on famil trips, brands will benefit from the exhaustive coverage. Influencers use these trips to create written and video content for brands and put it up on their social media. The wider the reach of the influencer, the better it is for the brand. It is also a great way to introduce a new destination to the audience. Famil trips can be tailor-made according to the needs of the brand. A brand could sponsor an entire trip or only parts of it.
Influencers are experienced in various kinds of content creation. By collaborating with an influencer a travel brand can customize the kind of content they require for their brand. Instead of hiring copy-writers or freelance photographers, travel and tourism operators and brands can directly hire an influencer to create a variety of content.
Create a bespoke product or service
A brand can work with an influencer and help them create a bespoke product or service. For example, a tour company can make the influencer design a travel itinerary that becomes one of the brand’s regular offerings. A tourism board could encourage an influencer to create a unique new travel experience in a place that audiences would be interested in.
Get them to review you
Getting an influencer to review a travel brand product or a destination is the most ideal way to attract the attention of potential customers. Organizations can provide influencers a sample of their products and ask for an honest review. This will also give them a chance to gauge potential customer feedback.
Recruit them as an ambassador
Recruiting an influencer as an ambassador or a spokesperson can work wonders for a brand. It ensures consistent engagement with audiences and a chance to interact with consumers and their needs. As and when an influencer promotes a product on their social media, their follower base will have a chance to explore the product and its offerings. Tourism boards can benefit greatly from recruiting influencers as their brand ambassador.