The importance of influencer marketing is rapidly rising. Tourist boards, such as Visit California, have recognised and embraced this within the travel and tourism industry. This organisation encourages people to visit California, providing information about travel, places of interest, where to stay etc., luring more visitors with the use of influencers.
To enhance an approach towards a stronger digital influencer strategy, Visit California created a first-of-its-kind Digital Influencer Advisory Board (DIAB), launched at the end of 2017. This was formed to improve practices for working with influencers, set standards for tracking return of investment, and create long-term partnerships with leading digital influencers of lifestyle and travel.
The DIAB programme
Visit California’s DIAB programme urges an open dialogue and collaboration with its members while ultimately establishing California ambassadors. The advisory board comprises leading North American influencers who are skilled in creating the most innovative digital content across the food, luxury, adventure, travel and lifestyle sectors.
Eight digital content creators were invited to participate in the initial Digital Influencer Advisory Board, with a combined reach of 7.6 million. The main objectives for the DIAB were to represent the current influencer space, help build strategy for influencer partnerships, and strengthen the relationships during various Visit California campaigns and initiatives. During the DIAB meetings, influencers were able to offer insight on pricing arrangements, how much direction they require regarding itinerary and content control, as well as what destinations can do in order to partner with influencers more effectively. The informal nature when providing non-binding strategic advice allows greater flexibility in structure and management, compared to a board of directors.
The programme managed to gather a group of influencers who had the power and followers that resonated with the Visit California objective. They generated content that increased Visit California’s presence on social media across a targeted audience. Two fundamental events that they engaged with were during times of crisis – the Northern California Wine Country fires and the Thomas Fire and Montecito mudslides in Santa Barbara. The influencers helped to promote positive messages that California was still an iconic, go-to destination for travellers to visit. Their attendance at events which benefited wildfire relief significantly contributed to the DIAB’s success. A total of 19.7 million potential impressions resulted from 130 posts that went live across several social platforms, with a $2.4 million media value. The encouraging content after the natural disaster in Santa Barbara resulted in 125 posts across the influencers’ channels, with more than 39 million impressions and an estimated media value of nearly $3 million!
Why you should incorporate influencers within your marketing strategy
Influencers are undeniably influential. If their content really engages with the target audience, they can have a dramatic impact on a marketing strategy and, in turn, on people’s behaviour. Influencer marketing is one of the fastest and most effective ways to spread a message. Consumers trust the content and recommendations from influencers. As long as influencers stay present and active on social media, they will continue to attract more consumers. This will ultimately lead to more sales and revenue.
Visit California is an excellent example which indicates just how important influencer marketing is in today’s world and how seriously even tourist boards are taking it. For this organisation, influencers were utilised for crisis response and acted as authentic ambassadors for the state. Their partnerships show commitment; five of them have worked with Visit California on separate campaigns since the first DIAB meeting, emphasising the long-term benefits of connecting with influencers. The strategic direction of the influencer marketing space is necessary in order to ensure a sustainable future, connecting both influencers and prospective consumers.
The travel industry has been quick to support influencer marketing. According to data amassed by MDG Advertising, more than 90% of millennials use social media platforms to post about their travels, and 30% of travellers in the US use social media for inspiration. Results from a UK-based survey also claim that Instagram was an important factor for 40% of 18-33 year olds when choosing a vacation. These figures highlight the confidence in the effectiveness and impact of influencer marketing and the growing importance of digital influencers in the industry.
Influencers present a diverse skill set: they are artistic content creators, intuitive entrepreneurs and curators of highly engaged audiences. Here at Swayy, we can vouch for the fact that travel influencers are expanding on social networks and are working with hospitality and other travel-oriented companies to help raise awareness around their brands, as well as entice people to explore destinations and use their services. As Instagram is the fastest growing social media site, working with specific Instagram influencers can build strong relationships and reciprocal partnerships to represent core values of a company, stressing the prevalent significance of influencers in today’s realm of digital marketing and communications.
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