By Emily Peters
Hey there, independent travel advisor: What have you done for your travel company’s social media presence lately?
Before you answer, keep in mind that we know how time consuming social media can be. If it’s not already part of your daily routine, it can feel good to leave that social stuff to the “young” crowd.
But that young crowd isn’t so baby-faced anymore—millennials are growing up, and many turn to social media to find inspiration for their next travel destination. Integrating social media into your travel business marketing plan should no longer be a question of “if” but “how and how much?” To this, we suggest one more addition: with who?
Here’s where the influencers come in
Social media influencers (people whose social media platforms/personalities have a large, loyal following), may hold part of the answer. As an independent travel professional, growing an independent following from scratch is tough, and most of us simply don’t have the time to devote to it.
Newbie independent travel professional Heather Christopher, however, leveraged the power of social media influencers to get her fledgling travel agency off the ground. By identifying, befriending and ultimately taking on the travel needs of just two influencers, Christopher’s business began to rapidly multiply. How?
Cross-marketing. In exchange for targeted social media posts promoting her services, Christopher comped her influencers her consultation tee. By gaining exposure to the influencer’s audience, she added one to two new clients per day to her rolodex. And because the influencers were Christopher’s actual clients, they could speak about her expertise from a genuine place. That element of trust between the influencer and their followers is key to a successful partnership.
But what if you don’t know any influencers?
They’re easy enough to track down. Start with one platform—Instagram is an excellent beginning—and begin to look for travel-focused Instagrammers in your area. In the Instagram search bar, enter in straightforward terms—like “Los Angeles”—and see what you can discover listed under tags, people and locations.
As you find travel-focused influencers with with followers in the thousands, pay attention to what other hashtags they’re using to augment your search. Notice who the influencers themselves follow or engage with—identify those whose lifestyle/travel choices align with your target audience. Then begin to follow, like, comment and share their content. Use engagement to open the door to conversations about partnering.
As you build relationships with influencers, you can branch out. Why limit yourself solely to travel influencers? Look at the periphery: the book reviewers, the foodies, the folks that are inspired to travel by what they’ve read or a dish they’ve sampled.
When the time is right, be bold about asking for a partnership, and be sure to focus on highlighting the benefits to them. Sprout Social recommends suggesting a few ideas on how to partner with influencers, such as sponsored posts, a service review or collaborating on an event.
Above all, keep it real: social followers can smell fake a mile away. Avoid influencers that don’t share your brand aesthetic. Authentic friendship and mutual support is key to finding success through influencer partnerships.
The beginning of a beautiful relationship
Travel is broader than we think when we’re neck-deep in itineraries and invoices. When you look up, you’ll see that your potential prospect list is, too. Leveraging the power of social media influencers can get your services in front of hundreds or thousands of eyes without the expense of a major marketing campaign.
What are your thoughts on working with social media influencers to boost your travel business? Are there other social media tactics you’ve tried with success? Sound off in the comments!
Are you ready to start your independent travel business with MTravel? We are here to help! Contact us here or call us at 800-870-5799. Be sure to check out our website at www.MTravel.com and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.