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Long time no sea: why now is the time for travel brands to be working with influencers

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Over the past few months, we’ve all been aware of the conversations around the choices made by some influencers to travel abroad, against the backdrop of a worsening pandemic in the UK. Sunkissed tans, bikinis, cocktails... while we're stuck at home with a trip to the local supermarket being the most thrilling part of the week. I for one have felt it. But I guess the trigger point this really uncovers is what we're all desperately in need of - a break.

And social media provides just that. An escape from reality, which right now is more monotonous than ever before. No matter your age, who you follow, or which platforms you use, you've undoubtedly come across someone posting alluring beach snaps at 10am on a Tuesday. Meanwhile, like the vast majority of others, you're sitting at home wondering when you'll ever actually leave your living room. Whether that's made you feel deep disgust at the inability to 'read the metaphorical room' or on the contrary, feel serious FOMO, let's address the elephant in the room. How powerful is it that we as consumers have such an emotional reaction to content like this?

With holidays feeling closer in grasp than they have done since the coronavirus pandemic started, it is crucial for brands to understand the vital role that content creators and influencer marketing play in the travel purchase journey; a role that far exceeds the stigma that some influencers have become surrounded by in recent months. Speaking with a travel client recently, following the British Government’s release of the roadmap to ease lockdown, they saw a 500% increase in WoW holiday sales.

This is supported by findings from search intelligence company Captify, who reported a 753% uplift in travel searches between August and January, following the announcement of the vaccination rollout. For the travel industry in particular, rebuilding consumer confidence post lockdown will be the main challenge - one that influencer marketing can truly help solve. 54.6% of people rely on social media posts to plan their travels. In a world that has become more virtual than any of us ever thought possible, it has never been more important to consider working with content creators in your travel marketing.

Authenti-sea-ty

We know authenticity is key for influencer marketing to work - you follow creators you like, admire, and trust for recommendations and a holiday really is no different. More than 40% of millennials consider “Instagrammability” when choosing their next trip. I for one, am not at all surprised. The advice and opinions of creators are greatly valued by their followers, clearly playing a major role in influencing people's travel choices.

But influencer stigma aside, is this behaviour really any different to what we have always done before planning a trip? Asking friends that share the same values and interests for holiday destination recommendations or scanning Tripadvisor to see how big the room really is, or if the breakfast buffet is quite as delectable as it seems. Rather now, you can follow a hotel tag and within minutes you're sitting around the pool through someone's Instagram story. Social media only accelerated the trajectory we were already on, just through rose tinted, well angled glasses.

As brands work to make themselves visible to travellers, they are now spending 61% of their marketing budgets on online channels. And to those that aren't? I guess we'll send you a postcard.