5 Ways Hospitality Marketers Can Use Travel Influencers
Social-media savvy travelers are making an indelible mark on the travel and hospitality industries. Social media influencers' reach on different social media platforms can equal over 5 figures in new bookings for travel brands. Influencers have become an integral part of many brands’ marketing strategies as today’s consumers trust peer recommendations above all other forms of marketing.
Leveraging partnerships with travel influencers can help hospitality and travel brands reach a wider audience and boost engagement and bookings all while showcasing the brand in an authentic and organic way.
1. To Build Brand Authenticity
Travel influencers don’t have to be celebrities or famous personalities – many top travel influencers are regular people who have gained a large social media following based on their appealing content. These influencers are trusted by their peers and followers and have positioned themselves as experts in the travel space.
Today’s consumers overwhelmingly trust recommendations from their peers. 92% of consumers trust influencers more than traditional celebrity endorsements or advertisements. This gives these social media influencers immense power in shaping how travel brands reach current and potential consumers.
Influencers have a strong impact on travelers because their content is genuine and trustworthy. They provide social proof for destinations and brands alike and confirm a brand or location’s credibility to potential guests.
2. To Drive Bookings
Millennials spend between $200 and 300 billion per year on travel – a number that is expected to continue to grow. The Millennial traveler prioritizes having experiences while traveling rather than simply purchasing things. As a result, the hospitality industry is finding new ways to market to Millennials and to offer them exactly what they are looking for in a travel destination.
Upon examining how Millennials select trip destinations, 75% were influenced by social media – a number much higher than for recommendations from colleagues, tourism websites, or news websites.
Instagram travel influencers have turned documenting their travels into a business and have gained cult followings. Partnering with successful, trusted influencers helps brands engage current customers and attract new fans.
3. To Source Brand Ambassadors
Partnering with influencers is mutually beneficial for both the brand and the influencer. For a brand, the content shared by the influencer will drive customer acquisition and awareness. For the influencer, it's exclusive access, expenses paid, or sponsorship for posting.
One popular way to leverage influencers is by making them brand ambassadors. As a brand ambassador, influencers become an extension of the team and a spokesperson for the brand. To incentize influencers to post about your destination, consider offering a complimentary trip in exchange for posting on social.
These trips are an excellent way to introduce your brand to a new audience and drive more bookings.
4. To Create Organic, Cost-Effective Content
Influencers, especially those on highly visual platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat, are an excellent source of compelling content. Not only is the content appealing to consumers due to its relatability, but brands can also leverage it across all marketing channels.
Partnering with an influencer can be a cost-effect method to boost your content creation while helping the influencer expand their audience visibility and reach. It works both ways – an influencer can provide a brand credibility and vice versa.
Maximizing the effectiveness of influencer marketing is worth the relatively small investment. In the travel and tourism category, brands saw returns of almost $13 in earned media value for every dollar spent on influencer marketing – an amount that is expected to continue growing.
5. To Cultivate Trusted Reviewers
Recommendations and reviews are one of the top ways consumers make travel decisions. Using influencers to review products and services helps convert potential customers in to brand loyalists. Influencers can be a powerful source of feedback and inspiration. Endorsements from influencers can be an excellent way to reach a larger audience, boost brand awareness, and cultivate brand loyalty, but it needs to be authentic.
Choose influencers from your existing pool of fans and followers and focus on micro-influencers. These influencers – who often have around 50K followers – can achieve a higher engagement than that of influencers with over a million followers. Why? They are better at maintaining authenticity and avoiding the celebrity status of larger accounts.
Travel influencers have such a significant, positive effect on hospitality marketing that many companies are spending a significant portion of their marketing budget on influencers. Today’s consumers seek authentic experiences when they travel and are fully aware of when someone is selling to them.
Using the traveler’s desire for information and inspiration compiled with their reliance on peer recommendations, the financial investment in influencers can provide massive returns.