Five Reasons Why You Need Social Influencers for Travel Marketing
Social media has revolutionized how every industry does marketing. The travel category is no exception. From exploring destinations to booking trips and sharing journeys, social media activities have become integral to today's digital travelers. 73% of people acquire vacation ideas from platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. In fact, more than half of people say Twitter helped them in considering travel brands.
The most avid among vacation-goers are millennials, who are reportedly the biggest spenders on travels. What's unique about this generation is that they rarely seek help from professional travel services. Only 10% of millennials say they used travel agents in 2014. So whose advice do they listen to? Social media stars! They have become such trusted voices for consumers that Marriott Hotels has set up a studio dedicated to content collaborations with social influencers. Now that we're in the biggest travel season, marketers are bustling to beat the competition. Let's take a look at how influencers can take your social promotional programs to the next level.
1. They Create Highly Engaging Social Media Photography
You may hire professional photographers to take impeccable pictures of your hotel's interior designs, your city's tourist spots, and so forth. But who will these images reach? Can they generate social conversations? Social media influencers, on the other hand, are able to create an eclectic range of photography: be it National Geography-level productions, Instagram-style posts, or funny combinations with emojis on Snapchat.
Think about this: the average social media user is inundated with various beach photos around this time of year. Which ones stick in their head? Only pictures with fun twists and creative sparks, like the one below, would get people to remember and share.
A photo posted by Kyle Huber (@asenseofhuber) on Aug 6, 2015 at 12:16pm PDT
2. They Have Huge Yet Devoted Social Audience
Spending a hefty amount of advertising dollars will catch eyeballs, but it won't necessarily translate into purchase intents. People nowadays, especially millennials, are increasingly skeptical about misleading and exaggerating advertisements. However, working with influencers will get you equal if not bigger audience reach while remaining personal. Their fans already turn to these influencers for recommendations on where to shop, what to wear, and even how to handle challenges in life. When they are roaming around social media for travel ideas, they would most certainly trust influencers' advice over random information found online.
3. Their Travel Logs Are Personal And Helpful
Influencers cultivated their loyal following by openly sharing their personal stories, feelings and life lessons with their fans. They don't pull any punches when documenting their vacation experiences either. The Planet D, voted as one of the top travel blogs by USA Today, is where couple Dave and Deb share how traveling saved their once stale marriage and rekindled their long-lost passion for life. Contrary to carefully-scripted travel commercials, influencer-generated blogs or vlogs won't hide the not-so-fancy part about vacations -- budget concerns, packing hassles, safety issues, etc. Putting their fans' best interests in mind, these influencers will also give highly-objective reviews. Even if your brand or product won't be given 100% approval, the parts that do get thumbs-up will be wholeheartedly trusted by their followers.
4. They Set The Trend For What's Cool And Tasty
From destination picks to restaurant choices, influencers guide their fans to exciting journeys in life. With a few delightful captions and creatively-executed visuals, they are able to turn otherwise generic stuff into the latest trends. It can be a picture of a hotel's lobby decorations, a local boutique store in your city, or a hard-to-find scenic spot. But their followers would be able to discover where these pictures are taken through the geo-tagging functions of platforms like Instagram and start researching these places. This way, you can break down your offerings into different interest segments -- culinary, nightlife, interior decor, outdoor activities, local culture, etc. -- and partner with influencers who specialize in these areas.
5. They Add New Twists To Your Brand Or Destination
Traveling is as much about checking out different places as it is about experiencing different lifestyles. Some long for luxurious and relaxing vacations, some explore nature's wonders and challenge themselves with extreme sports, while others enjoy learning about indigenous culture. Travel marketers tend to fall into a rut when choosing influencers -- they only look at "travel influencers," people who live their lives traveling, blogging and taking pictures around the world. However, influencers from other categories can help breathe new life into your existing brand by changing people's perceptions. For instance, if you are a tourism board representing a city known for historical attractions, partnering with fashion and lifestyle influencers can help you attract travelers who aren't so interested in exploring history, but would think it's "fashionable" to visit and take pictures in your city. Here is an example picture from Jenn Im, fashion blogger and YouTuber who has nearly a million followers on Instagram, in front of historical Korean architecture.
A photo posted by Jenn Im (@imjennim) on Jun 6, 2015 at 3:59am PDT
Follow Eric Dahan on Twitter