influencers and travel marketers

The Love Affair Between Influencers and Travel Brands: A “How To” Marketing Guide

Influencing travel through content. It’s a construct that’s been around for much longer than you think.

From its 19th century “humble brag” roots in photography, to the tourism marketing titan it’s now become, travel influencing attracts doe eyes from the well traveled, inspired, and pretty much everyone in between. 

And for good reason!

When you look at the partnership between influencers and travel brands, there isn’t your typical run-of-the-mill marketing fling. Instead, we have a full-blown love affair that’s more #couplegoals than Bennifer could ever hope to be.

So let’s break down this digital saga, shall we?

matches in shape of heart

The Rise of Influencer Marketing in Travel

The digital age has ushered in an era where the consumer’s voice is more powerful than ever, and among these voices, influencers have risen as the new age celebrities of the internet. With their loyal followings and highly engaged audiences, influencers possess the unique ability to bring destinations to life, transforming static images and descriptions into vivid, relatable narratives.

But what exactly makes influencer marketing so effective in the travel industry?

The point of inflection here is the authenticity and trust that influencers have cultivated with their audience. When an influencer shares their travel experiences, followers are not just passively consuming content – they’re embarking on a virtual journey, guided by a trusted friend.  Plus, per Phocuswire, “they hold special appeal to younger travelers and get to places the travelers’ friends and families may not, opening audiences to new venues.” 

This level of engagement is unparalleled – with 80% of marketers finding influencer marketing effective, a testament to its power to sway consumer decisions.

And with some simple framework and a clear set of expectations, you too can pop this strategy into your marketing plan. 

Here’s how.

Step 1: Identifying Your Perfect Match

As with any ingenue, the key to this love story is finding your perfect match. Not all influencers are created equal, and a successful partnership lies in alignment — similar values, audience, and content style. Finding your brand’s twin flame can indeed become daunting.

Don’t be afraid to let a bit of matchmaking come into play.

Start by defining your brand’s core values and the message you’d like to convey. Then, look for influencers whose content and audience demographics fit within these parameters. Tools like BuzzSumo and HypeAuditor can help you analyze potential influencers’ reach, engagement rates, and audience demographics, ensuring that you’re making an informed decision.

How to identify your perfect influencer match:

  1. Define Your Brand’s Story: What narrative are you seeking to tell? Is it one of adventure, luxury, sustainability, or perhaps a blend of several themes? Your influencer’s content should be a natural extension of this story.
  2. Audience Alignment: The influencer’s audience should mirror your target demographic. Tools like Social Blade can provide insights into an influencer’s follower base, helping ensure alignment.
  3. Engagement Over Followers: A large follower count is impressive, but engagement is where the true magic happens. Look for influencers with high engagement rates, indicating a loyal and active audience. (Pro Tip: Use this tool to decipher real Instagram followers from fake ones before you commit.)
  4. Content Quality: The influencer’s content should not only resonate with your brand’s aesthetic but also be superior in quality. Their past collaborations offer valuable insights into their content creation capabilities.

Step 2: Crafting Stories That Resonate

Once you’ve found your match, leverage the influencer’s unique perspective to ensure that the content produced resonates with your audience. Allow them creative freedom to showcase your brand through their lens, while also setting clear guidelines to reach your marketing objectives.

Remember, the most successful influencer collaborations are ones that feel organic and genuine, as if the influencer would have shared them even without a partnership.

Crafting content that captivates AND converts:

  1. Collaborative Ideation: Work together with your influencer to brainstorm content ideas. This is the best way to marry THEIR aesthetic with YOUR bottom line.
  2. Leverage Unique Experiences: Think unique. Encourage influencers to share their bespoke experiences with your brand. Whether it’s a stay at a boutique hotel, taking an adventure tour, or having a local dining experience, personal stories are far more engaging than scripted promotions.
  3. Multi-Platform Storytelling: Utilize various platforms (Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, blogs) to tell different facets of the story. Each platform offers its own storytelling tools, and to truly bond, you’ll have to go steady with Instagram Stories to long-form YouTube content.
  4. Incorporate Interactive Elements: Engage the audience by incorporating interactive elements like polls, quizzes, and contests. This not only boosts interest but it also makes the audience feel like a part of the story.
travel influencers

Step 3: Make Sure to Measure Up

The beauty of influencer marketing is its ability to weave narratives that bond at an emotional level. But how do you measure the impact of a story?

Key metrics to build into target goals:

  1. Engagement Rate: Beyond likes and comments, look at the quality of interactions. Are followers asking questions, sharing experiences, or expressing intent to purchase?
  2. Conversion Rate: Utilize affiliate links or unique promo codes to track how many followers are converting into customers.
  3. Brand Sentiment: Analyze comments and feedback to gauge the sentiment around your brand. Has the influencer collaboration improved perceptions of your brand?
  4. Reach and Impressions: While foundational, these are not the only metrics to consider. Think of them more like an idea of how far your story has traveled.

Step 4: Keep the Flame Alive

Sustaining a successful partnership with an influencer is much like communicating in any healthy relationship  it requires intention and a shared vision for the future. Regular check-ins, feedback sessions, and a willingness to evolve together are key to a fruitful long-term collaboration.

Letting the journey end with a single post is heartbreaking!

Repurposing influencer content across your brand’s marketing channels — from social media to email newsletters — can amplify the message and extend the life of your campaign. 

Make sure that you have a contract or an agreement at play that allows you to have full control of future content use for the long run.

influencers in travel

Romanticising the Future

As proven since before the web was webbing, the love between influencers and travel brands is a longstanding match made in heaven.

By understanding the nuances of this relationship and the implicit strengths of influencers, tourism marketers can go beyond inspiring wanderlust to driving tangible results. 

And while there’s more intricacies to this partnership than we could ever cover in a single blog, the most memorable journeys happen when you let yourself to dive into something new.

So go for it. 

#TeamVonMack’s always by your side to help.