The concept of the travel influencer isn’t new.
If Helen of Troy was the face who launched a thousand ships, then Rick Steves must be the button up who booked a million flights! However as social media has grown and influencer marketing has entered spheres from food through fashion to finance, the travel industry has proven no different.
As millennials value experiences over possessions travel had boomed prior to the pandemic, and the pickup is presently proceeding. It’s not surprising then that the increased marketing to the younger generations has moved from network TV to social media.
In 2023, the influencer market is worth almost $14bn annually. 93% of marketers state that they’ve worked with influencers in some shape or form, and 74% of those state the rationale is to specifically target an audience.
And as traditional media continues to lose numbers and viewing hours to online and social media, it makes sense to meet potential customers where they are.
ZipRecruiter reports the average yearly earnings for one of the influencers in travel as $93,000–the cost of influencer marketing isn’t near that of a TV campaign. Meanwhile, the rise of influencers impacts how consumers spend money on travel.
A November 2022 survey by YouGov revealed 41% of those polled globally took notice of influencers in travel with respect to pushing the button on air travel and hotels, with numbers as high as 75% in the UAE, and 61% in the increasingly important Chinese market.
Platforms for Influencers in Travel
The pandemic has increased the time most of us spend behind screens, but a startling statistic suggested people are now consuming an average of 18 hours of online video per week–an increase of 7.5 hours in the space of three years.
YouTube is the obvious platform to be in prime position to take advantage, especially when it’s taken into account that even back in 2014, personal travel vlogs received more than double the amount of subscriptions than official travel brand channels.
Instagram–long the home for pictures of exotic sunsets and holiday meals–changed its algorithm in 2022 to give greater priority to longer-form video.
59% of American millennials are Instagram users; as the demographic most interested in travel, this is clear encouragement to influencers and content creators to make Instagram their platform of choice.
In the know
The advantage of long-form video is, of course, that travel content can be more than shiny images and surface-level skims over a destination.
It seems these days there’s a YouTuber for whatever niche of vacation–and whatever part of that niche–the viewer wishes to know.
Aviation enthusiast and one of the top influencers in travel, Sam Chui has over three million subscribers looking for his tips on the best in class for coach flights, all the way to a retired jet that’s been turned into a Balinese private villa.
Alyssa Ramos’ 200,000 followers have traveled with her to over 120 countries, while Gina Jackson (ginagoesto) combines her passion for travel with that of food, detailing cities, hotels and restaurants in much more depth.
Some take trips that we’d be unlikely to do ourselves–for example, Vaga Bond who travels to remote parts of Russia and across Mongolian desert via a mixture of hitchhiking and hopping freight trains.
Others go into forensic detail of familiar locales, such as native New Yorker Jon Barr whose channel can be invaluable for those looking to get the best of his city (and beyond) with recommends as to the overall logistics of the Big Apple as well as the best kept secrets within its neighborhoods.
Is there still space for the traditional travel press? Absolutely. Vogue have named Malaga as their top hit (as have we!) for 2023. Traditionally, it’s been seen simply as somewhere to land before setting off for Andalusia’s historical destinations of Seville, Córdoba and the ‘white towns.’
Now, building on the legacy of its most famous son–Pablo Picasso–the Pompidou Centre draws art buffs for the Kahlos and Magrittes, who stay for the beach restaurants and historical sites.
But the traditional way of deciding on a destination? It was between brochures and friends’ recommendations. Influencers in travel now take their place as a friend in whichever place you propose pitching up.
Hi, I’m Stacey
UNSTOPPABLE Stacey Travel is a travel blog focused on immersive travel that highlights food, wine and the spirituality of place. I also occasionally write about life as a Camino de Santiago pilgrim. I hope you enjoy what I post here. Feel free to leave comments! Read more…
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