Seven tips for working with travel influencers to market your hospitality brand


For many consumers, especially those who have grown up in the internet age, social-media platforms and other online outlets exert a powerful influence over decision-making. This is particularly true when it comes to travel; whether it's a friend's holiday snapshots of exotic locations on Instagram or an in-depth article by a trusted travel blogger, what we see online can have an impact on our choice of travel destinations, including where to stay and what to do once we get there.

In fact, a survey by Motel 6 in 2021 — a year of pent-up post-pandemic wanderlust — found that the average American had spent 176 hours scrolling social media for travel inspiration in the preceding 12 months.

And, according to American Express's 2023 Global Travel Trends Report, 75% of survey respondents reported having been inspired by social media to travel to a specific destination.

The rise of the travel influencer

With social media such an important factor in 21st-century consumer decision-making, it was inevitable that an entire branch of marketing would develop alongside it.

McKinsey defines influencer marketing as "a collaboration between popular social-media users and brands to promote brands’ products or services". It's a relatively simple formula: many influencers have large numbers of followers who trust their opinions, and brands leverage the spending power of those followings by engaging with the influencers.

The travel influencer industry is a big business

For many of the top travel influencers, this is no hobby or side hustle; it's a career, and they receive money from the brands they feature on their Instagram page or YouTube channel.

And it's a big business. A recent benchmarking report from Influencer Marketing Hub (IMH), "The State of Influencer Marketing 2023", forecasts that the industry is set to grow to approximately US$21.1 billion this year.

Here are some tips and strategies for working with travel influencers, for hospitality and travel brands looking to promote their products and services to a wider audience.

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1. Identify the right travel influencers

You probably already follow a few top travel influencers on Instagram, TikTok or other platforms — and if you don't, now is a good time to start. Finding the right influencers for your hospitality niche is worth a bit of research.

A luxury travel brand likely won't benefit much from collaborating with a travel influencer whose specialty is offering travel tips to backpackers on a tight budget. The UK-based travel PR firm Lemongrass puts it a little more bluntly:

The point is this: someone who influences one target group is completely irrelevant to another.

You're better off seeking out travel influencers who align with your brand values and reach your target audience. To do so, make use of analytics tools and platforms designed to help you identify quality influencers based on such metrics as engagement rates, follower demographics and content quality.

There are also a number of agencies that specialize in helping companies find the right social media influencer for their marketing efforts. (IMH maintains a list of such agencies.)

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2. Set clear objectives and track your results

Determine the goals and outcomes you want to achieve through partnerships with travel influencers. These might include:

  • to increase brand awareness

  • to drive website traffic

  • to boost bookings or reservations

  • to promote specific products/services

Having clear objectives will help you measure the success of your campaigns, but don't forget to put in place a way to track your progress, such as analytics software. Establish key performance indicators and monitor metrics such as reach, engagement and conversions to help you assess your ROI.

As Under30CEO explained in a recent Entrepreneur article:

This will enable you to regularly generate reports on each influencer you partner with. Be sure to set up meetings with your influencers so you can share your findings. Your influencers may have recommendations on how to improve goal-related metrics that are subpar or waning. After all, they probably work with other brands, giving them tremendous insight into best practices.


3. Establish mutually beneficial partnerships

It's important that any partnership you develop with a travel influencer is valuable for both the brand and the influencer. Consider offering incentives such as free hotel stays, complimentary services or exclusive experiences.

If you intend to offer monetary compensation, make sure that it is in line with the influencer's reach and engagement.

Influencer Marketing Hub notes that a growing number of brands (41.6%) report that they pay money to influencers, compared to 29.5% who give them free products: "In addition, 17.7% gave their influencers a discount on their product or services (presumably more expensive items), and a smaller 11.2% entered their influencers in a giveaway."

4. Leverage multiple platforms

Engage with influencers across various platforms such as Instagram, YouTube or TikTok to reach a broader audience. Each platform has its own advantages and audience demographics, so tailor your content and messaging accordingly.

For example, according to Sprout Social, Facebook users tend to be older (its largest age group, at 29.9%, is aged 25 to 34) and predominantly male (56%), while TikTok skews younger (21% of users are 18 to 24) and largely female (54%).

According to IMH's 2023 report, these are the top platforms — ranked according to the percentage of brands who say they use them for their influencer marketing campaigns:

  • TikTok (55.5%)

  • Instagram (50.8%)

  • Facebook (42.1%)

  • YouTube (38.3%)


5. Influencer- and user-generated content

Hospitality and travel industry operators should encourage travel influencers to create content that features their brand. If you are working with an influencer who is a professional photographer, for example, Instagram posts showcasing your properties in beautiful scenic photographs can create a lot of user engagement.

Repurpose this influencer-generated content (IGC) on your own social media channels, website or other marketing materials to extend its reach and impact.

The proverbial Holy Grail in the travel industry, moreover, is user-generated content (UGC) — that which is created and posted by ordinary travelers simply because they want to share their experiences, and not because they are being compensated for it.

In fact, 45% of surveyed brands told IMH that the wish to generate UGC was the main reason for their influencer campaigns, with sales (29%) and awareness (26%) both noticeably reduced in importance compared to previous years.

6. Craft engaging content

This is similar to the previous point, but it involves taking a more collaborative approach rather than relying only on the content influencers create.

Your hotel or travel brand can work with a travel influencer to create compelling content that showcases your travel destination in an authentic and engaging way. Such content could highlight unique features of your offerings and tell stories about promoted destinations that resonate with the influencer's followers.

Visual content such as high-quality photos and videos and live stories are especially effective for travel and hospitality promotions.


7. Build long-term influencer partnerships

Of the brands that Influencer Marketing Hub surveyed for its report, the majority (61%) said they prefer to work with influencers with whom they have had success in previous campaigns.

Consider forming long-term relationships with travel influencers who consistently deliver results and align well with your brand. Maintaining ongoing partnerships can lead to deeper brand integration and more authentic storytelling in your future travel influencer marketing campaigns.

Per the IMH report, "some firms will have a range of influencers they call upon depending on the nature of a particular campaign, the products they are trying to promote, and the target market.… The more successful an influencer campaign is, the greater the likelihood that the parties will want to work together on other campaigns."

Authenticity is vital in an influencer campaign

When brands work with influencers, transparency and authenticity are of vital importance for both parties. Ensure that the influencers with whom you collaborate disclose their partnerships in order to build trust and maintain credibility with their audience.

Has your hotel been working with influencers to reach more potential guests? Let us know, and learn more about how PressReader works with our partners in the hotel industry to help their properties stand out. 

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