As more and more brands team up with social media influencers to drive engagement, reach, and newfound awareness towards longstanding brands, the travel and hospitality sector is well-poised to transition from traditional modes of advertising into the best digital marketing practices. Many of the newer and emerging social media publishing channels are visually intensive (focusing on beautifully captured photos and well-shot videos) lending itself well to capturing experiences within the travel and hospitality industries.
Hotel giant, Marriott, recently rolled out their own global content studio, partnering with five top social media influencers: YouTubers Jeana Smith from PrankVsPrank, Louis Cole from FunForLouis, Tom from TheSyndicateProject, Steve Zaragoza from Sourcefed, Meghan Camarena from Strawburry17, and hosted by Shira Lazar of What’s Trending (a live daily interactive channel that features viral videos and various segments that cover trending topics). This major marketing partnership features a dedicated series that allows the viewer to follow the featured YouTuber as they travel and document their unique adventures. The following video chronicles a hotel lobby dance party surprising the millionth Marriott mobile app check-in user. By using this YouTuber marketing strategy, Marriott garnered close to 4M views in four months:
In addition to Marriott, many other travel and hotel brands are integrating top social media influencers into their marketing campaigns. With most consumers becoming increasingly both digital and mobile, YouTube and other social media publishing channels (blogs, Instagram, and Snapchat), is oftentimes the best medium for reaching engaged consumes online. YouTube is seeing prodigious growth, currently has 1B+ users, and is the second leading search engine behind Google. YouTube reaches more 18-49 year olds than any U.S. cable network (see our post on digital media vs. TV).
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Millennial consumers have taken over as the largest demographic, according to the US Census, millennial consumers now number at 83.1M compared to baby boomers who are now at 75.4M. This leaves many traditional brands wondering how to reinvent the way they market themselves. It is no longer a question that brands need to adapt, rather it’s how.
As such, these consumers look directly to their favorite social media influencers for advice, often following those who align with their personal aesthetics and lifestyle aspirations. According to a McKinsey study, recommendations from a trusted source are 50% more likely to lead to a conversion. Instead of a pitch man or a celebrity (see our post on how YouTubers rank higher than most mainstream celebrities in consumer affinity), consumers are now looking to their favorite bloggers, vloggers (video bloggers), Instagrammers, and YouTubers for their next travel adventure inspiration.
Social media influencers create content that portrays their everyday lives and interests. Influencers often have highly varied audiences (a 33-year old mom living in New Hampshire is not going to have the same content as that of a 24-year old fashion blogger living in Los Angeles). Influencers see large amounts of social engagement. With hundreds of thousands (and sometimes millions) of followers, and with their audience engaging through likes, comments, tags and follows, the influencers enable brands to reach audiences worldwide. With this, and an increasing variety of social platforms, brands are able to engage with consumers like never before.
Marriott has taken the forefront in implementing a highly social media-savvy and YouTuber-based marketing strategy (similar to what Hollywood production companies have done with their YouTuber movie promotions). In a recent bid to appeal to the coveted millennial demographic, Marriott has partnered with top YouTuber Casey Neistat, to drive a campaign where he travels to various locales sharing his entire experience with Marriott. This results in a very organic and genuine campaign that resonates with Casey’s audience. As opposed to a traditional advertising measures, marketing with Neistat ensures a beautifully captured, day-in-the-life experience as opposed to a scripted commercial. In an interview with David Beebe, the VP of Global Creative & Content Marketing for Marriott International advises that “rather than dictating the topic and type of content you want from the influencers, let them come back to you with a concept that plays to their strengths and social credibility.”
Love Taza For Starwood Hotels & Resorts
Naomi Davis, of the family-friendly blog Love Taza, has collaborated with St. Regis hotels to feature their Monarch Beach resort over Father’s Day Weekend. Through well-curated photographs and candid descriptions, her blog post, “A Weekend at Monarch Beach,” and adjoining video are able to portray the weekend in a way that seems to come as advice from a trusted family friend. This enables the brand to appeal to parents who otherwise would not consider St. Regis as family-friendly.
DevinSuperTramp For New Zealand Tourism
Former film student turned adventure vlogger, Devin Graham (Devinsupertramp), launched into fame after posting a YouTube video taken on his cellphone. Featuring incrediblly-shot videos of his travels all over the world, he recently partnered with the New Zealand Board of Tourism to bring his viewers highly engaging content that’s wholly his own.
Taryn Southern For Moxy Hotels
Moxy Hotels, a Marriott division, is teaming up with YouTube star Taryn Southern to promote their line of stylish hotels. Moxy is set to appeal to Millennials, with chic yet budget-friendly rooms. Slated to begin in September, Southern will host Do Not Disturb, a web series that features collaborations from other top YouTubers being interviewed about travel related topics.
Tuula Vintage For Cathay Pacific
Tuula Vintage is a lush and luxurious travel blog by Jessica May Stein. She documents her travels with vibrant, fashion-centric photography. Stein partnered with top-tier airline, Cathay Pacific, for incredible vacations throughout Hong Kong and the Maldives as part of their #LifeWellTravelled.
lead image via Love Taza