If you run a tourism business, then chances are at some point you’ve received an email from a travel influencer requesting a comped media visit.
The basic idea is that in exchange for a few nights at your hotel or one of your tours, the travel influencer will write a review of your services and promote your business on social media.
If you’re new to influencer marketing, you might be wondering if working with a travel blogger or influencer is a good idea for your tourism business.
There’s a lot that goes into answering that question. But if you are going to work with an influencer, then there are a few mistakes you certainly do not want to make.
First, if you’ve worked with influencers in the past and had less-than-ideal results, know you’re not alone.
We were inspired to write this post because of a recent email we received from a client about the results of comped media visit to his retreat center. To simplify the story, the client received an email from a young woman requesting a few nights of comped accommodation, meals, spa treatments and transportation in exchange for a featured story on a travel website.
Our client agreed. Everything seemed to go well…until the article came out and there were only two sentences barely mentioning the resort.
Now, we weren’t personally involved in setting up this press trip, so we can’t speak to the details of what happened here. However, I think we can all agree that there was clearly a huge miscommunication in expectations and desired results.
This infuriates us for two reasons:
Far too many tourism businesses have stories of working with travel influencers who did not fulfill their side of the agreement. This leaves tourism businesses thinking that influencer marketing is a waste of time and resources. The truth is, influencer marketing can be a fantastic way to build brand awareness and drive traffic to your tourism website—when properly executed.
Dan and Casey, founders of Untethered Media, are also top travel bloggers and influencers. It’s disappointing and frustrating when a few bad eggs in the industry give the rest of us a negative reputation. Most travel influencers genuinely want to share once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunities with their readers, opening the door for many exciting opportunities for collaboration. Again, the key here is having the right influencer marketing partnerships.
Influencer marketing can build brand awareness within your target niche, drive traffic to key pages on your website, and ultimately increase bookings and sales. But in order to see ultimate ROI from influencer marketing, there are a few common issues you must avoid.
Top 5 Influencer Marketing Mistakes Your Tourism Business Might Be Making (And What To Do Instead)
1. Not Asking Enough Questions
As a business owner, you already know the importance of clear communication. Or, as Tony Robbins says, the necessity of “Clarify and Verify.” The same holds true when working with influencers.
What happens with many small business owners is they receive an email asking for a few comped nights at their hotel. They then say yes, and that’s the end of the story. They might not even meet the influencer if they are not on site during the press visit.
Weeks or months go by, and you have no idea what (or when) to expect publicity. You get busy, the influencer slips from your mind, and then it’s not until you receive a new email from another travel influencer that you remember you gave away a few nights last time and never even saw a review from it!
To avoid this common mistake, it’s crucial that you clarify and verify all the details of what will be included with the influencer. This includes not only what the influencer will provide you, but also with what you will offer the influencer!
– When will the review be published?
– How many social media posts will go out?
– When and on which channels?
– Does the influencer expect transportation, meals or other additional compensation?
– Will you get a link back to your website?
Top travel influencers will offer details on what they will provide to your tourism business in their initial pitch. However, if they don’t or if you’re not completely clear on what the agreement entails, it’s always better to confirm details prior to inviting them to join your tour or stay at your hotel.
2. Choosing The Wrong Influencer
The travel industry is large and diverse. You don’t cater to every single niche; it follows that you should only work with those travel influencers whose audiences align with your target customers.
Dan and Casey were once invited on a press trip for a company whose target market was clearly adventurous 20 and 30-something travelers. Perfect for Dan and Casey’s blog. Not so perfect for the baby boomers and luxury traveler bloggers also invited on the press trip.
If you cater to a specific market, then don’t invite travel influencers who don’t align with that market. You risk two huge issues:
1. You will see little to no ROI as the influencer’s audience is not interested in what you have to offer.
2. You could receive a negative review if the influencer’s own interests and passions are not in line with your offerings.
For example, a sprawling five-star luxury resort with a huge carbon footprint might not want to host an eco-conscious traveler who cares primarily about sustainable travel. However, if the very same property is taking new initiatives towards increased sustainability, the eco-conscious traveler could be a perfect fit to highlight this new campaign.
It all comes back to knowing your ideal customer and tourism business goals, and then finding the right influencer who can help you connect with this target audience to meet those goals.
3. Getting Distracted By Vanity Metrics
If you’ve read any of our articles, then you already know we talk a lot about the deceptive nature of vanity metrics. We all want large numbers of followers on social media. But those numbers don’t mean anything if they do not translate into increased bookings and revenue.
If a travel influencer with 100,000 Instagram followers reaches out to your tourism business, you might be inclined to immediately say yes to the press trip because of the seemingly large “klout” the influencer offers.
However, it’s crucial that you look at a few other important factors.
First, as mentioned above, does the influencer align with your target market?
Then, take a look at their number of followers, but also look at their engagement rate. Or, what percentage of their followers are taking some sort of action on their social media posts or blogs? There are a few ways you can do this, but a good simple way to start is simply by taking the average number of likes and comments they received on a past number of posts and dividing this by their total number of likes.
This in-depth post from Origami Logic goes into more detail on understanding social media engagement metrics.
In general, the more followers an influencer has, the lower their engagement rate will be. This is normal, and isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, because of this, don’t immediately discount micro-influencers.
Micro-influencers are those influencers with smaller numbers of total followers but higher engagement levels and perceived authority. As a very general example, if someone has 10,000 Instagram followers but receives an average of 1,000 likes on each photo, you might be better off working with them over an influencer with 50,000 Instagram followers only receiving an average of 500 likes on each photo.
4. Forgetting About The Follow-Up
We recently put together an analytics report for an influencer marketing campaign we were managing for a client. When we were following back up with the blogger to get key metrics to include in the report, we were shocked to hear that out of all the campaigns she worked on, we were part of the 15% who followed up for any sort of tracking information.
That means that a staggering 85% of marketing companies and businesses are not asking for any information on the success of their influencer campaigns. We find that shocking.
You can’t manage (and optimize) what you can’t measure. Before working with any influencer, we suggest that you request a tracking link back to your website, as well as make it clear you would like to follow up in a month’s time to get some basic information on how well the campaign performed. Key metrics to ask for include:
-Traffic to blog posts/review
-Average time on the post
-Number of social media shares
-Social media engagement on posts
Clarify and verify with the influencer before you work with them that this information is important to you. Once again, this ensures you are all on the same page and they will happily work with you to obtain these metrics when the time comes.
5. Foregoing Transparency
Finally, don’t forget that you are required by FTC guidelines to disclose relationships with influencers. If a travel blogger promotes your offering and does not disclose that they were compensated (either with a free stay/offer or monetary compensation), then this could lead to legal fines for your business.
If you’re not sure what disclosures are required, this is a helpful article that goes over the important basics.
Bonus: Not Respecting The Influencer
Last but not least, we feel it’s important to mention respecting the influencers. Just as you are running a business, so too is the influencer. If you go into any collaboration with mutual respect, the outcome will be much greater for all parties involved.
And while it might feel like you’re giving something out “for free”, keep in mind that a great deal of effort goes into the photography, writing and social media promotion to publicize your brand. And that’s not including the years of work that the influencer already put in to cultivate a large audience that trusts and respects their brand and advice.
But remember above all else, before you get started with any marketing campaign, you must get clear about your desired outcome and goals.
Download Your FREE Step-By-Step Worksheet to Creating SMART Goals
We recommend printing this worksheet out, using it as a framework to write down your SMART marketing goals, and then keeping it nearby your office or computer. It will keep you on track for massive success this year and beyond.
Do you set SMART Goals? What is your one big desired outcome for your business this year – and what is stopping you from achieving it? Share your questions and thoughts in the comments below!