Influencer chief executive officer Ben Jeffries sits down with travel creator Alex Stead to discuss the impact of coronavirus on the travel industry and how travel creators have pivoted their offering to support and build their online communities.
Q: While many industries have felt the repercussions of this pandemic, the travel industry has been particularly hit hard. Has this affected/changed the attitudes within the travel creator community?
A: Due to the current global situation, it feels like everyone is very nervous about what is going to happen in the coming months. Our jobs were among the first to be cancelled and sadly will most likely be the last to come back. It’s very obvious to most of us that travelling and working how we used to is going to take a long time to get back to normal.
Despite this, for the most part, the travel creator community has responded really well. Despite lack of work, many creators are using the time to edit and build their relationships with their communities; they’re spreading positive messages to their audiences to really push the messages of social distancing and also showing them how you can still create and reflect while staying at home.
How has your content creation strategy changed since the start of the pandemic?
My current archive of content consists of travel from different photoshoots around the world, so my content has stayed the same, but my message has changed completely. I’ve made it really clear to my audience that all of my recent image posts were taken in the past. I’ve also had more time to focus on other content, which I previously hadn’t had time to look at.
For example, I’ve been creating editing tutorials to share my skills with my community and I’ve also been able to put more into building my community on YouTube through posting my own video content there.
How has your audience responded alongside the industry changes? Do they want to see different things completely, or are they committed to your original content?
As I haven’t changed the theme of my own content, I haven’t seen much overall change. However, I think my audience is responding really well to the editing tutorials I mentioned previously. In the past I’ve had a lot of requests for these and even more so now that a lot of creatives are sitting at home looking for ways to improve their skills. So it feels like doing these kinds of videos are really appreciated by the community at the moment.
Do you think the impact on creators like yourself will be long lasting, and change the state of the industry all together?
Firstly, I think it has and will continue to affect everyone for a long time, perhaps even years to come. I personally don’t believe it’s going to go back to normal all of a sudden and because of the hit the global economies have taken, I think people will be cautious about attributing big budgets to advertising and campaigns. Returning to normality is going to be a very gradual process, worldwide.
Even when travel is available to us again, it’s possible that a lot of people won’t have the savings or excess income to spend on holidays or adventures.
On the other hand, many followers look to travel content as a form of escapism. Images of incredible far away places and adventures might be just what people need right now, to give them hope for the future. Brands who align themselves with morale boosting, inspirational content are likely to fare well once this is all over!
In the current climate, I feel a lot of travel creators will need to look at ways they can pivot their skills to other opportunities to maintain an income, at least for the next 6 to 8 months. For example, a share of my income also comes from commercial photoshoots for hotels and cars; things which can be done much closer to home. The great thing about photography is that it’s an adaptable skill and can be used in so many ways. I’m looking forward to trying out some new things and doing a lot more local product work when lockdown restrictions are eased
What have you turned your attention to now?
I’m definitely focusing a lot more on my own health. I’ve worked as a travel photographer for the past four years, which has been incredible and I’m beyond grateful for the work I do, however, it’s been hard to keep active and fit in that time. Often, shoots are long hours and editing deadlines are tight so after trips I’m cooped up trying to edit 24/7 in order to get out all the content ready in time. Spending time now using our daily outing to go for a cycle and doing other indoor fitness has been really good for me physically and mentally.
Ben Jeffries is the chief executive officer of Influencer