Energetic, dynamic, imaginative and flexible. Increasing numbers of travel brands are discovering the value of building long-term relationships with travel influencers, and tapping into their problem-solving abilities too.

Getting paid to travel, discover the best of every destination and tell the world about it sounds like the ultimate job, doesn’t it? Until recently it wasn’t considered a job so much as a passion indulged by nomadic creatives with a gift for photography and the ability to run an attractive blog. Today that’s changing rapidly as the best travel influencers take on a professional status in the world of destination marketing and carry out a job that’s worth paying for.

However, as destination marketing organizations are increasingly required, for a variety of reasons, to shift their focus to destination management we believe that there’s a role for travel influencers can help in that process. We also know that the best travel influencers can be instrumental in helpful for them – as travel industry professionals- to get a better understanding of where they fit in the picture. To bring both groups together and chart the way ahead, TOPOSOPHY was recently invited to run the Think Tank at the Social Travel Summit (STS) 2016.

For two days in September the event brought an exclusive gathering of tourism professionals, leading travel bloggers and online influencers from around the world to the picturesque city of Inverness. I’ve got to admit that I’ve always been jealous of what travel influencers do (and you probably are too), but it became very clear during the event that these people really do care about the destinations that they work with, and when it comes to digital content creation and distribution, they really know their stuff. It’s surprising that more DMOs and travel brands of all sizes haven’t yet fully understood their value.

It also struck me how many genuine friendships had built up between the travel influencers and DMOs who attended, and how, when this relationship works well, the destination and its local businesses seem to genuinely benefit. However it has got to be said that with changing politics, shifting priorities and trimmed budgets, DMOs can sometimes take the role of a friend in need of a helping hand. One of the reasons TOPOSOPHY was invited to host the Think Tank at STS Inverness is that we’ve understand the challenges that DMOs face, and we wanted to help both sides work out how they can best support each other in the future.

Firstly, one of the biggest hurdles that DMOs face is allocating resources to working with travel influencers in the first place. Management and political decision makers can be skeptical about both the reach of the influencer’s content and the ethics of being writer, editor, and marketer all-in-one. While analytics software becomes increasingly sophisticated and great steps are being taken to professionalize the world of travel influencers (e.g. through the Code of Standards and Ethics for Professional Travel Bloggers), there is still much work to be done on articulating the value of travel influencers beyond the statistics. This is where those at the Think Tank underlined the importance of building long-term relationships rather than ‘one-night stands’. It’s only after working for a period of time with a particular destination that a travel influencer can really tap into its soul and relay this artfully to their audience. It also keeps readers engaged as they see that the influencer is a real specialist in the destination. Long-term relationships also build up goodwill, which can help a lot when DMOs need a hand with spare photos, videos and content sharing months after a particular campaign or fam trip. Just as you would with your own best friends, it means choosing the right travel influencer to begin with.

Secondly, as DMOs work more with local businesses – involving them in major decisions, providing training courses or working as part of a business cluster, travel influencers have a useful role to play. I noticed how many travel influencers complained about how they produce attractive and highly shareable content (the kind of thing which would cost an individual business a lot of time and money to produce), but local businesses don’t share it or weren’t aware the influencer was in town in the first place. By preparing well, and including time to meet and greet local business owners, the DMO can help this key stakeholder group to understand better what they’re doing, get more involved in the project, and maybe pick up some social media tips along the way!

Finally, as we recently identified, challenges like ‘overtourism’ are really putting the strain on many destinations, especially in Europe. While the causes and solutions to this problem are very complex, we believe that travel influencers can play a very important role in raising awareness of alternative destinations and attractions and giving practical info on how to get there. It’s something we explained in more detail in last month’s blog post. Running fam trips off-season, including attractive daytrips and giving the travel influencer more time to explore freely (rather than make them stick to a rigid itinerary) can all help too.

Working with travel influencers: quick tips

If you’re looking for good advice on how to get the most from working with travel influencers, check out our list of seven top tips from our own Blogger Outreach Expert Kash Bhattacharya. 

Tailor made advice, just for you

As one of our selection of high-quality keynotes and workshops, Kash can provide tailor-made advice to suit your destination and local partners in a full or half-day format. We can also assist you on a longer-term basis with our blogger outreach services to source and select the right travel influencers for your brand, and provide training to help you and your partners to get the most out of the relationship.

Social Travel Summit Think Tank – Full Report

The full Think Tank report will be launched at WTM London in a special session Digital and Influencer Marketing Developments and Trends at 2:45pm on Wednesday 9th November (location: WTM Inspire Theatre EU475). It will be freely available online shortly after.

 This blogpost is from    http://www.toposophy.com/insights/insight/?bid=434

Posted by Jordi Pera

Jordi Pera is an economist passionate about tourism, strategy, marketing, sustainability, business modelling and open innovation. He has international experience in marketing, intelligence research, strategy planning, business model innovation and lecturing, having developed most of his career in the tourism industry. Jordi is keen on tackling innovation and strategy challenges that require imagination, entail thoughtful analysis and are to be solved with creative solutions.

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