Influencer marketing isn’t about getting the biggest name you can find to rep your brand, although if you can do it, you may want to go for it. Rather, it’s a tool focused on leveraging genuine connections being made all over social media, to gain a larger target audience for your company. Travel brands should focus on finding travel influencers to tell their story.
Travel brands are coming up with creative ways to reach consumers by partnering with people these buyers already know online and trust. Heavy hitters in the industry are taking advantage of the authentic paths to purchase that influencers facilitate every day. Even smaller companies are developing influencer marketing campaigns, knowing that millennials and non-millennials alike look to Instagram, Facebook and YouTube for travel recommendations much more so than they turn to a traditional travel advertising source.
As you begin to put your influencer marketing plan into action, find inspiration from the leaders. As one would expect, some of the most recognizable and innovative travel companies in the world serve as shining examples of great influencer marketing. Their successful campaigns with travel influencers are things to admire… and replicate!
Airbnb’s arrival onto the travel scene back in 2008 gave hoteliers, from major chains to small inn owners, little reason to pause. The company was merely a quirky accommodation alternative for the adventurous at the time. Fast forward to 2015, when Mariah Carey stayed in an Airbnb property, the brand’s status as a celebrity lure positioned it to be what some now call a threat to the entire travel industry.
Success for Airbnb comes heavily by way of social. The company recently worked with Lady Gaga who stayed in an Airbnb during the 2017 Super Bowl. A single post about the experience went out to her more than 24 million followers, attracting more than 500,000 likes and more than 4,000 comments.
Airbnb regularly uses storytelling to highlight hosts, local personalities and travel influencers in its Wanderlust blog. This fun-to-read collection of content shows the travel inclined how to “live like a local,” and its surely one of the reasons the company is second in valuation in the lodging industry only to Marriott.
Marriott must have taken serious note of the fact that millennials were half of Airbnb’s customers in 2016, while its accommodation brand just garnered 28% of that demographic. The international hotel giant launched a Snapchat influencer marketing campaign earlier this year and hired popular travel influencers to take over its account, one per month for 4 months. These influencers strengthen the Marriott Rewards program by documenting their travels through video, which reach tens of millions through Snapchat’s Spectacles feature.
Before that campaign, Marriott teamed up with travel influencers to co-create content on destinations decided upon by Snapchat users. Casey Neistat, one of Marriott’s influencers, went to Haiti to tour a recently opened Marriott hotel and to provide his followers with an overview – of the property and the area’s recovery progress after a devastating earthquake that rocked the nation 5 years prior. Neistat was authentic as he toured Haiti, providing his honest views on the hotel and its surroundings.
Expedia’s Viewfinder travel blog offers a wealth of travel content written by traveler influencers. It highlights topics that are fresh in the minds of those ready to see the world. On the blog, readers learn where to take the best selfie and who has the best pub fare in London, and they get answers for other legitimate concerns of those natures. Great content by great people having great times that everyone should be envious of. It makes complete sense.
Other travel brands doing it absolutely right with influencer marketing include:
- Hilton – The travel chain’s Mom Voyage campaign gives travelers with families a source for tips and temptations. Real mom voices share stories of domestic and international should-avoids and must-dos, as they pertain to their experience planning and enjoying a destination.
- Alaska Airlines – Alaska Airlines enlisted influencers to tell their travel tales birthed in various cities along the carrier’s routes. Each piece of content is refreshing and accompanied by extraordinary visuals. Sometimes, influencers take over Alaska’s Instagram account.
- TripIt – A monthly #TripItChat hosted by top travel influencers, including Lee Abbamont and Matt Long, gives an interactive forum for learning how to optimize business and leisure travel. The format allows travelers to ask questions in real time and to find the answers they need to finalize their next trip.
These are just some of the cool ways travel brands use influencer marketing to come across as more genuine, trustworthy and valuable. And, to boost business.
Contact Galileo Tech Media to explore ways you can give your travel brand a more prominent place on the influencer marketing map.