How Influencers Can Drive Visitors to Your Destination

Kristyn Snell (She/Her)

September 14, 2023

Turning hashtags into holidays, influencer marketing is shaping every part of the traveller journey. 

It’s a bold statement, but we can guarantee that within a few swipes on your favourite social media app, you’ll be exposed to crystal blue waterfalls, sprawling desert vistas, or potentially at least one bottomless brunch, depending on your algorithm.  When we reflect, the job title of “travel influencer” didn’t even exist a decade ago.  Fast forward to today, whether you’re “team influencer” or not, influencer marketing for tourism can not only yield incredible reach, contributing to each step of the path to purchase, but it can also help brands to create a plethora of high-quality photos and video assets for their marketing needs.

How influencers can have a significant impact on driving tourism to your destination

As a tourism product or destination marketing organization, working collaboratively with professional creators provides an opportunity to harness their technical skills and their audience. You can tailor the campaign to meet your marketing goals, integrate key messages, and, most importantly, access the highly niche and trusting audience each influencer has cultivated over years of building their brand.

Influencers with a niche, travel-focused audience can provide access to people who are interested in what that creator has to say. From dreaming of a potential trip to planning and booking, a well-executed campaign can aid in the dreaming and planning phases of a customer journey with “saves” on a traveller's Instagram, pins on their “Pinterest” board, and even purchases through “swipe-ups” and links to book an experience.

The importance of selecting influencers whose audiences align with your destination's target demographic

Working with an influencer with a highly engaged audience is crucial to driving the ROI of the partnership, especially when the audience and destination are authentically aligned. A savvy content creator knows their audience's preferences and the style of content that results in the best engagement. They have robust demographics for their followers, and matching these demographics to your marketing needs is key to a successful campaign.  

This also goes for the experience you hope to cover through influencer marketing. Hosting an influencer that normally covers luxury travel on a rustic backcountry adventure will likely result in lower engagement as it’s not what their followers have come to expect. 

How influencers' authentic endorsements can establish credibility and trust among their followers

Influencers that have cultivated a loyal audience have leveraged their authentic, honest, and often inspiring take on destinations and experiences to build a community that trusts their take on a destination or experience, often better than a traditional ad campaign or branded hero video. Their followers live vicariously through them, looking for inspiration on where to travel, how to get there, and what to do in the area.

Understanding that creators are typically compensated for their time and content - they don’t just get free trips as the internet might lead you to believe - there’s a level of integrity required to maintain trust with audiences. People can see through sponsored content that a creator doesn’t believe in. Although sponsored posts give some people the “ick”, we know branded partnerships can thrive when done well. 

Expand reach through influencer channels

Partnering with influencers can help you reach a larger, more engaged audience than other digital marketing channels. You can hone in on creators that reach a specific audience with niche interests, and by creating engaging and inspiring content, your brand can get in front of people who might bypass ad units or gloss over traditional brand content. 

The benefits of collaborating with local influencers

Not every destination or tourism experience has the budget to support flights, content fees, and licensing agreements for mega travel influencers. The exciting part is that you can work with creators in your own backyard. Building strong relationships with local storytellers - the actual people -  can have incredible benefits. 

Proximity opens the door for informal ambassador relationships and increases trust because they are legitimately part of your local community. Sure, a heavy-hitter macro influencer would be a dream, but building a mutually respectful relationship with your neighbourhood creatives is always a win. 

Potential hurdles in influencer tourism marketing 

While there are many benefits of influencer marketing, it is important to understand the potential hurdles, such as creating an understanding among your team of the benefits in the overall marketing mix. It’s an ever-changing space with a lot of nuance. However, the metrics and connection to other tactics are tangible, making it easy to connect to digital campaigns. 

Lastly, influencers and social media personalities get a bad rap for buying followers to inflate their statistics. It is important to vet and research influencers to ensure they have a legitimate following, strong character and do not engage in inflammatory behaviour that might reflect poorly on your brand. There is a very strong and robust community of extremely talented travel content creators across the globe who make their livelihoods creating captivating and engaging digital content - just check out our roster for some great examples!

Influencer marketing can be a powerful marketing tool to drive awareness and visitation. By working with quality creators, you can ensure your brand reaches a highly engaged and trusting audience while they dream, plan and book their next vacation. 

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