Popular adventure publication Outside Magazine recently published a piece entitled “The Big Business of Adventure on Instagram” wherein the article’s author, Grayson Schaffer, describes the popularity of today’s top Instagrammers or Instagram influencers (the names for Instagram’s most-followed and/or most popular content creators) as “a seismic shift in the media world: the rise of individuals as brands unto themselves.” Though Schaffer’s article focuses primarily on the Instagram influencer revolution as it pertains to adventure sports, he hints at how the prevalence of digital influencers in mainstream culture is affecting travel marketing as a whole.
Because more and more consumers are taking social cues (including where and how to travel) from popular social media stars, travel brands—from airlines to national tourism departments to hospitality companies and major hotel chains—are revamping their marketing strategies and reallocating advertising budgets toward the development and implementation of influencer marketing partnerships and campaigns.
Collectively, digital influencers (also called “social media influencers,” “social media stars,” or simply “influencers”) are content creators adept at crafting, publishing, and promoting appealing photos, videos, blog articles, and/or Snapchat Stories on social media platforms (i.e. YouTube, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat). Collaborating with these top digital influencers to create photos and/or videos that showcase travel destinations, highlight aspirational experiences, or feature products is one of the most effective ways that brands can target and interact with interested consumers.
“Instagram culture is actually changing the way people travel and plan their trips,” Schaffer says in the Outside Magazine article, and though Instagram’s above-average user engagement and image-driven content are well-suited for travel marketing campaigns, the reach, exposure, and high ROIs that travel brands typically enjoy through digital influencer collaborations are not unique to Instagram.
For an in-depth look at how travel and hospitality brands are marketing with social media influencers, check out our dedicated explainer article here.
See how these top travel brands are leading the way with innovative and profitable travel marketing campaigns featuring top digital influencers from every social platform:
Ushering in the next big wave of millennial travelers, Contiki is a group travel company that caters to today’s aspirational lifestyle consumer. As part of its Contiki Legends campaign, the company partnered with five digital influencers to present sponsored travel marketing content on themes like “Jump” (video here above), “Explore,” “Dance,” “Prank,” and “Party.” The campaign featured Devin “Supertramp” Graham, one of YouTube’s top travel and adventure content creators. Supertramp has also worked with several global brands on influencer marketing collaborations, including Speed Stick and the Canada Tourism Department.
Following their hugely successful YouTube video with Kobi Bryant vs. Lionel Messi, Turkish Airlines leveled up their video marketing efforts by developing an influencer marketing campaign featuring 10 top YouTubers including Casey Neistat. (See Neistat’s daily vlog detailing his Turkish Airline trip above.) Collectively, the 10 YouTubers have an audience of over 40 million subscribers. To see how other airlines are developing travel marketing campaigns with digital influencers, see our airline case study here.
View this post on Instagram
Pics or it didn't happen: If a skier hucks without uploading a photo, does anybody see it? A road trip through the exploding business side of Instagram, where pro athletes roam Alberta stalking the next big trophy shot. Photo: @jimmy_chin | @graysonschaffer's story live at OutsideOnline.com
In a study conducted by Shareablee, National Geographic outranked its nearest competitor BuzzFeed on social engagement 8 times to 1. Outside Magazine details how, with nearly 1 million Instagram followers, National Geographic photographer Jimmy Chin is in the upper echelon of top Instagram accounts for travel and adventure and provides targeted, high levels of engagement for publishers and brand advertisers alike.
As one of the first major hospitality brands to create travel marketing campaigns with digital influencers, Marriott has collaborated with several top YouTubers to create sponsored and branded content. The hotel chain’s biggest influencer marketing campaigns include a viral hotel lobby prank (see video above) and a two-part series with Streamy Awards host and one of YouTube’s biggest stars, Grace Helbig.