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3 Examples of How Your Travel Brand Can Win Big with Influencer Marketing

Last Modified: January 31, 2023


In the past, travel advertising centered around the usual destinations. Travel agencies, hotels, or airlines advertised special rates or traditionally-preferred places to visit. As the tourism industry continues to grow, there’s more room for smaller towns and rural communities to get in on the action. That, combined with the rise of social media, has led to the phenomenon of the travel influencer.

Influencing the Travel Market

The travel influencer hits popular destination spots or discovers new ones. By posting stories and photos of their experience, the influencer generates interest from followers and publicity for the brand. Social media reaches almost half of the world’s population as usage rates continue to rise. As a result, social media influencers are a growing segment of the marketing landscape.

Their focus on storytelling and photography makes them an excellent fit for travel-related content, especially on Instagram. Lately, Instagram influencers have been getting a lot of attention due to the spectacular nature of their successes — and failures. The over abundance of these travel influencers shouldn’t dissuade you from scaling your influencer campaign, especially if you are in a niche destination spot.

Check out these three unique travel influencers that are getting people excited for the spring travel season.

Forest bathing

No, it’s not skinny-dipping in a wilderness pool. The latest travel trend is going into the forest and “bathing” in the atmosphere to relieve stress and recharge. Sure, it sounds like hippie talk from the ’60s, but it’s got some science behind it. Studies in Japan show evidence that a 3-day, 2-night forest trip increased immune function for a period of 30 days. Many forest plants release aromatic compounds, which may help explain the health effects. Stress levels also decrease on a trip filled with nature versus a tourist trip to the city. With spring and summer coming up, nature spots are in the spotlight.

You might think it’s a tough sell to introduce your targeted audience to a completely different kind of destination. However, The Discoverer Blog highlighted these hotspots across North America for their spas, wellness tours, and forest-bathing counselors to help people get the most out of the experience. Blogs and similar publications can be great to work with as they usually have a very niche audience that is similar to yours.

Traveling with little ones

Another example of a travel influencer with a niche readership targets families that have young children. No longer is travel about dumping the kids at Grandma’s house while you take off to the beach. Families are hitting the road and taking to the air even with little ones, and family travel bloggers have risen to the challenge with tips and tricks to make it all go smoother.

The Bucket List Family roams all over the world with three adorable children and posts heartwarming shots of inventive “bucket list” moments. Family-friendly travel never looked so glamorous and fun. Whether it’s falling into a pool together or re-enacting the Wendy Peffercorn kiss from the Sandlot, this family knows how to have fun. In the spirit of love, fun, and learning, the Bucket List Family is showing everyone how to have fun and love travel.

Traveling with pets

People love traveling, and they love pets — so what could be better than combining the two? Hey, pets can get cabin fever, too, and after a winter of being cooped up, everyone is raring for some warmer air.

Rich East and his cat, Willow, have been traveling across Australia since 2014, and they haven’t slowed down one bit. After quitting his corporate IT job, Rich decided to see the countryside and sold all of his possessions for a Volkswagen he modified to make livable. But he couldn’t give up his 6-year-old cat, Willow, and began adjusting her to traveling life by taking short trips, then longer and longer ones, until they were permanently on the road. Rich writes about his traveling experiences on his blog, Van Cat Meow. The internet loves cats, and the duo’s Instagram account is still going strong, boasting 105k followers.

The Other Side of Travel Influencers

While travel blogging and influencers have become all the rage, some are jumping a little hard on the bandwagon and coming awkwardly late to the party. Hotels, resorts, and BnB owners are getting fed up with people asking for freebies. The market is starting to saturate, and now the success of Insta campaigns is making more people want to live the same life. One resort in the Maldives reports an average of six “influencer” contacts per day, all wanting a five-to-seven-day stay with all expenses paid. Some of the requests are from people with hardly any followers, and quite a few messages are lacking in detail. “I want to stay at your hotel for free” is what most of them end up saying.

The Anti-Publicity Approach

One hotel in Dublin went public with an influencer’s request for a free stay. The White Moose Cafe (associated with the Charleville Lodge Dublin) published an open letter response to a social media influencer’s request for a free stay just before Valentine’s Day weekend. Her proposition was straightforward, but perhaps a bit overconfident. Leading her pitch with impressive-sounding follower counts, the hapless influencer didn’t realize what kind of manager she was addressing. Known for his snarky blog posts and acidic humor, Paul Stenson posted the original request (with the influencer’s name and handles redacted) along with an over-the-top reply that said, in essence, get a job and heck no.

Controversy erupted, with people weighing in on both sides of the issue, but that was precisely the point. Paul Stenson thrives on controversy and even has a series of short YouTube videos explaining that getting everyone to either love or hate you generates free publicity and fills your business with “happy people” who “don’t take life too seriously.”

While Stenson didn’t out the influencer by name, she posted a YouTube video revealing her identity and rambling for over 15 minutes about how humiliated she felt.

This video probably turned more people against her than the original post, because she didn’t gracefully handle the rejection. And, like many commenters pointed out if she’d done her research first, she’d have known this hotel was a bad fit.

So while many travel brands and destinations welcome influencer collaboration, this cautionary tale underscores the need for both brands and influencers to weigh the risks and benefits of partnering. The best partnerships happen when each side benefits and the influencer’s voice matches that of the brand. In the case of the White Moose Cafe, their brand voice clashed with that of the unfortunate 22-year-old fashion blogger. Any such mismatched partnership will be similarly doomed to fail.

That’s why you need a system that can manage, onboard, and scale affiliates and influencers that fit your brand. Refersion provides the structure to find the best brand ambassadors and turn them into active promoters of your business.

Sign up for Refersion’s free 14-day trial and see the difference it can make!

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Written by

Ruthie Carey
Ruthie Carey