Leveraging Influencers Can Enhance Travel Agency Brands

by Richard D'Ambrosio
Leveraging Influencers Can Enhance Travel Agency Brands

Fiji Vacations/Fiji Travel, Costa Mesa, CA, just wrapped up a two-week influencer marketing campaign in which it leveraged the “Bucket List Family,” a popular social media family it paid $60,000 to visit four of its resorts over about three weeks in January and February. The family posted photos and comments on its YouTube and Instagram pages, tagging @fijivacations so its posts also showed up on Fiji Vacations’ social media platforms.

“It feels like an authentic endorsement without being too salesy,” said Fiji Vacations/Fiji Travel CEO Melissa Pomeroy. “It’s extremely powerful.”

The use of influencers like the Bucket List Family to promote products appears to be a growing trend, inside the travel industry and out. According to a new global research study by Altimeter Group, 43% of brands (including 55% of B2C companies) are experimenting with influencer marketing.

In a January 2017 National Geographic article, writer Carrie Miller noted that between 2009 and 2014, visitors to Trolltunga, Norway , increased from 500 to 40,000 due to social media marketing, and the alpine town of Wanaka, New Zealand, credits social media influencers with helping launch a 14% increase in tourist visits.

The Maldives look to the high end
The Maldives recently launched an “ambassador” program using social influencers to reach ultra-high-net worth individuals.

“This audience is famously hard to reach with traditional marketing campaigns,” said Tim Potter, director of NeueHouse, a New York-based marketing firm that represents Lifestyle Capital Partners (LCP), the company managing “The Maldives Ambassador Program.”

In phase one of the program, 10 individuals in key markets are hosting “small intimate group events.” Potter described the “Ambassadors” as “ultra-high-net worth” individuals “who already have a deep love for the Maldives due to frequent visits, or are very influential in the appropriate circles and whom we feel should be introduced to the Maldives at topmost levels.”

LCP founder and managing partner Lynn Villadolid said, “What we look for is someone who is very extroverted and viral who is willing to reach out and do direct marketing to their network and friends. Secondly, we look for an individual who is already an advocate, someone who is already keen on Maldives or a frequent repeater of a resort or a series of resorts. The third group is celebrities or business persona who naturally attract a lot of attention by their works. These are the people who would naturally draw press and attention.”

Villadolid advised business owners to look for signs that something captures an influencer’s “imagination, hearts, minds and intellect” to ensure success. “They will willingly advocate something they are passionate about, regardless of whether they are compensated for it.  Somebody who really loves a place will be willing to open their own rolodex or email their database or host an event because they absolutely want to share something that gives them great pride and joy.”

Back to Fiji
At Fiji Travel, meanwhile, the Fiji Vacations Facebook page had about 56,000 followers when the campaign began; today, it has nearly 59,000, an increase of more than 5%. Fiji Vacations’ Instagram handle had 12,700 followers (compared with the Bucket List Family’s 500,000) at the beginning of the campaign; today it has 14,400.

Fiji Vacations chose to work with the Bucket List Family because of the dialogue it has with its fans. “When you choose an influencer, you want to make sure their audience isn’t just large, but engaged as well,” Pomeroy said.

The Bucket List Family created and posted three YouTube videos for this campaign.

Because the Bucket Family’s social media posts were linked to Fiji Vacations’ pages, “our customers could dive deeper into our landing page and explore our offerings.” Pomeroy feels the campaign was more relevant than even some Google AdWords campaigns.

Indeed, travel agents may want to begin to leverage Instagram more. More than 500 million active Instagram users share an average of 80 million photos a day, and experts say these users engage with the website and app 10 times more than they do with Facebook

Celebrity social media partners can be expensive, though. Fiji Vacations spent $60,000 on the Bucket List Family campaign.

“I realize that a regular, home-based agent can’t spend like we did. So agents need to be creative. Find someone in your community who is relevant to your target customer base and interested in the destinations and types of travel you sell,” Pomeroy said.

Tip of the Day

As an industry, we are selling experiences and travel. What better connection can we make than suitcases for children? I want to put a call out to fellow advisors to find out who runs the foster care in their community and ask them to collect luggage, book bags, toiletries and such from their clients.

Anita English, My Travel Advisor

Daily Top List

Best Spots for Cliff Jumping in Ireland

1. County Antrim

2. County Donegal

3. County Sligo

4. County Galway

5. County Kerry

Source: CNN


Beyond Booking Travel: Where the True Impact Lies

In an industry that advances thanks to the traveling public’s leisure choices, some travel players are doing their part to ignite positive change that will have long-lasting effects.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Supplier ‘Come Back’ Programs Raise Ire of Destination Wedding Specialists
Supplier ‘Come Back’ Programs Raise Ire of Destination Wedding Specialists

Travel advisors share their dissatisfaction with supplier programs that encourage guests to steer future bookings away from their agent.

Despite Record Disruptions, Most Travelers Still Don’t Opt for Insurance
Despite Record Disruptions, Most Travelers Still Don’t Opt for Insurance

One out of two vacationers still don’t purchase insurance, despite three out of four having dealt with flight delays, and nearly half having their luggage delayed or lost.

How to Use Stories to Sell Travel in Three Easy Steps
How to Use Stories to Sell Travel in Three Easy Steps

A motivational speaker urges travel advisors to grow their sales by honing their strategic storytelling skills.

Travel Industry Assesses Impact from Midterm Elections
Travel Industry Assesses Impact from Midterm Elections

Top Washington, D.C.-based associations begin to chart the impact on travel.

Paying to Play: Travel Agents Up 2019 Advertising Budgets
Paying to Play: Travel Agents Up 2019 Advertising Budgets

Lainie Melnick uses paid advertising in the local newspaper to beat a tough competitor, while Gary Smith’s paid Facebook ads helped grow his business by 37 percent. Sometimes you have to spend money to make money.

How Can Travel Agents Protect Client Relationships with Hotels?
How Can Travel Agents Protect Client Relationships with Hotels?

What you need to know about executing an agreement that tells hotel management that you are bringing them a business opportunity and you expect to be treated respectfully.

News Briefs
TMR Report Cards & Outlooks
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: Tauck