“…travel influencers can impact their audiences to go from the consideration stage to the conversation stage.”
Many industries have been impacted by the global outbreak of COVID-19, including the travel industry. Hospitality and tourism have been crippled by stay-at-home orders and the many unknowns about how this disease is spread. However, as orders are lifted and life begins to resume with small levels of normalcy, social media influencers could be the heroes to save the travel industry.
With both in-state and out-of-state travel starting to pick up, state-specific travel and tourism agencies are faced with an overwhelming task of standing out from other destinations. These agencies will need to make strategic decisions on how to present themselves in order for promotional messages to stand out amongst geographically specific audiences.
Developing an influencer marketing strategy that positions social media influencers at the forefront with safety messaging can cultivate perceptual awareness around a specific destination. Travel influencers are professional when it comes to creating interactive and engaging content that drives not only impressions and awareness but engagement as well.
“I really love summer beach vacations and oftentimes find myself visiting beaches in Florida, California or Mexico. But not this year with COVID,” shared Jane Ko, an Austin-based food and travel blogger. “Earlier this summer I made an in-state road trip from Austin to Corpus Christi to enjoy the beaches there and I stayed at a new beach condo for three nights. I posted to Instagram stories during my three-night stay which led to the property then being booked out for the month!”
As seen in this example, influencers can impact their audiences to go from the consideration stage to the conversation stage.
For many marketing professionals in the travel, hospitality and tourism industry, the immediate hurdle is to inspire safe travel and to ensure guests feel comfortable with, and respect, the new safety protocols in place. From wearing masks to limiting the number of guests, social media influencers can share their experiences to help inform and put their audiences at ease. Additionally, influencers will play an important role in helping potential travelers understand what local businesses are open and which remain closed.
“In September we used our proprietary surveying technology and asked nearly 300 influencers within our platform about their opinions related to in-state travel,” explained Jamie Reardon, CEO and co-founder of Find Your Influence. “What we learned is that there is an overwhelmingly positive interest for in-state travel, specifically with Millennials and Gen Z.”
The survey referenced by Reardon also highlighted that eighty percent of the respondents would either prefer to fly or had no preference between flying or driving to their destination. Further, the data shows that influencers are ready to leave 2020 behind and begin traveling and exploring once again.
According to a recent story published by The Drum, Three-Quarters of Brands Have Upped Their Influencer Spend Despite Pandemic. With such an increase in spend in this marketing pillar, it proves that consumers are leaning in and listening to the powerful voices of influencers. According to some reports, the influencer market is expected to grow to $15 billion by 2022. With that valuation, it’s a fairly simple connection to make that influencers can save the future of travel.
“We’ve recently seen automotive brands partner with influencers to demonstrate how to safely travel in-state and discover parks or destinations they’ve never made a priority to visit,” said Reardon. “As we learn more and progress through this pandemic, travel influencers won’t immediately be posting those beautiful beach images but instead showing how they are following the safety measures at airports, in hotel lobbies and while visiting various points of interest.”
Influencers can save the travel industry when brands recognize the value of long-term partnerships. If a Texas-based influencer enters a longer-term partnership with a Texas destination, they can post on-going content throughout the term of the agreement to demonstrate their continued trust and loyalty. As audiences see those long term partnerships, they understand that the influencer is truly committed and stands behind the brand.
In early October, lifestyle and travel blogger Alicia Tenise was a panelist during the virtual Women in Travel Summit. Tenise spoke to the importance of casting diverse influencers within all influencer marketing campaigns. “Travel brands are really starting to ramp up again!” Tenise shared. She also referenced her excitement to see so many travel brands participating in the summit from international resort properties, to travel review websites and even city-focused tourism groups.
If you’re a travel marketer wondering how your brand will rebound from the impacts of COVID on your business, look no further than Find Your Influence. Request a demo today and let us put the perfect travel influencers to work for you.