Let's get one thing out of the way: ROI is a tricky subject in influencer marketing in the travel industry. Travel is a high value purchase, one that usually takes weeks or months to make, and the chances of successfully tracking a sale back to the original point of contact is in many cases virtually impossible. That doesn't mean there aren't other ways to track results, but we'll get into that in another post.
The reason I bring this point up is to highlight your goals with influencer marketing should be centered mostly around branding. By partnering with the right blogger, you are shaping how customers are seeing your brand. By working with influencers who focus on sustainability, the message of sustainability in connection to your company will get out. By focusing on luxury influencers, people will see your company as a luxury company.
Influencers are able to share personal stories around your brand. They place your company in the readers lives in an organic way (granted that the strategy is a natural fit), shaping the perception of your brand in ways that are much more organic than buying ads. People are over stock images of models relaxing in your hotel pool, they'd rather see their favourite blogger there. And people don't care about tv ads (that are forced upon them) about your new travel product, but will happily tune in to their favourite Youtube talking about their new discovery (your brand).
For every $1 invested, travel companies make $12.54 back*
That being said, aside from shaping the perception of your brand (branding), the natural bonus to working with influencers is brand awareness. Influencers, wether large or small, have a group of readers/followers they influence. By working with them, your message spreads to groups that otherwise would turn off your advertising on tv, or flip past it in a magazine. You're able to target very specific groups by working with micro-influencers. And large influencers have following numbers most general press outlets could only dream of. While working with influencers certainly isn't free, it generally provides much better ROI than working with general press.
A huge oversight, in my opinion, is using influencers for your own content marketing needs. Besides working with influencers to share the story about your brand, it may be very useful to use influencers to gather content for your own channels as well. Most influencers don't just live off their platforms, they also freelance on the side and sell the skills they've gathered as bloggers. They may be very good content producers, social media wizards, create gorgeous videos or photography or use their large influencer network to help brands with campaigns (such as I do). Most influencers are happy to share their business work on their own channels too, so that's a win-win. It also builds stronger relationships with influencers by working together in more ways than one.
71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on a social media reference
Ask any blogger and they will tell you: we get bombarded on a daily base by companies just wanting to purchase links on our website, to improve their own rankings in Google. Selling do follow links is frowned upon by Google, but every company should have a healthy profile of do follow and no follow links leading to their website. Working with influencers for your campaign can lead to a mixture of such links, improving your own SEO efforts, while also gathering all the other benefits of working with travel influencers.
While there are many reasons to work with influencers, a large percentage of companies are hoping to achieve more sales in the end. And that's fair enough. You invest money, you want to know the ROI. Like we've mentioned before, many people turn to influencers before making a purchase. But as we've also mentioned before: ROI is a tricky thing to measure when it comes to the travel industry.
An influencer might produce spectacular content on destination X, which reader Y loves. They'd never considered going to X before, but it looks stunning, and now they are definitely considering it for a next vacation. It won't be until a few months later that reader Y is ready to book that holiday. They will remember that destination or hotel or travel company that influencer once recommended to them. But instead of going through the bloggers link, they might google the destination or book directly with the company. In this case, the bloggers objective still succeeded (they influenced a follower to travel to that destination), but there is no way to track the sale back to them, as its been so long and the customer didn't go through the original link.
This is why sales shouldn't generally be the main objective of an influencer marketing campaign in the travel sphere, unless you're willing to look at it on a long term basis. Travel is a high value item, that usually takes months (if not years) to sell. There's multiple ways to track ROI, but an easy way is to include a booking form that asks customers where they first discovered your company. This might scoop up some results that may have gotten lost through tracking urls.
Research says for every 1$ invested, advertisers earn $12.54 back* in travel influencer marketing, so even if it's all about the numbers for you, you can clearly see the value of influencer marketing is monetary as well as for all the reasons mentioned above.
Want to create a results driven influencer marketing strategy for your travel company or hotel? Get in touch. Our team can help you set up and execute a travel influencer strategy tailored to your kpi's, across multiple channels.