With the travel industry at a historic low, it’s hard to see how travel content creators may survive. But with people spending more time than ever on their mobile devices, content creators may find themselves with a heightened level of audience trust when travel starts to reopen.
Travel focused content creators often get a bad rap. The perception that they expect free trips for little work, or live unrealistic and hyper-privileged lives without “real jobs” has defined much of the conversation over the last decade or so.
Nevertheless, it’s hard to argue that the travel content industry has not played a significant role in travel’s growth in the last 10 years. In many ways, they have replaced the traditional print media that once held so much sway over where people visited.
Campaigns are cancelled, free trips are nowhere to be found, affiliate income is nonexistent, and most of their would-be clients or partners — hotels and destinations — don’t have a marketing dollar to spare. Then there’s the high profile backlash that happened when content creators failed to live up to their responsibility as public figures during a pandemic. With all these knocks, it’s hard to conceptualize how this somewhat informal industry may adapt and survive as the travel industry undoubtedly changes.
The reality is, now that people are on their mobile devices, consuming social media content more than ever — anxious, bored, looking for both reassurance and inspiration — influential content creators and brands may have something of an opportunity.
Why Should Brands Work With Content Creators?
- Many content creators are amazing at what they do – they offer an authentic look at new destinations or new hospitality properties.
- Content creators are in touch with a vast number of audiences. Often times, audiences who may not have been attainable through traditional marketing campaigns.
- Good content creators offer engagement through conversations – honestly answering questions about what the brand has to offer – instead of the brand telling their own story, the content creator can vouch for the service offered.
- They offer a fresh look at a brand from the consumers point of view – and not the assets a brands want to showcase for themselves. It’s a power of trust between the creator and their audience.
- Brands could spend large amounts of money using a professional crew to create content. Or they could spend half the amount to draw a handful of content creators to capture content the audience actually wants to see.
As travel content creators are not producing travel, they are being innovative to stay relevant with their audiences. For very niche content creators — where all they do is talk about travel — they are trying to be a resource for educating their followings. So it’s about changing the narrative: Don’t travel now, but this is what you can do for your local communities. So really kind of taking a shift to … how to shop at small businesses, with either curb side pickup or delivery, how to take-out at restaurants. A lot of them are taking that local focus. Others have pivoted to sharing their old travel photos.
When travel begins again, travel content creators will be able to show audiences new changes in the travel world. For example…: “Okay I just checked into this hotel, they’ve changed their check-in process it’s completely contactless, they’ve added an Apple pay, I swipe my phone and enter the room.” They’ll be able to show that exact process on Instagram Stories and how it makes them feel.
Brands who work with travel content creators have a greater opportunity to bounce back faster than those who don’t. What’s important is for brands to find the content creator who has a high engagement (not just a high following). What’s more, reciprocal value and ROI must be evaluated and monitored. Once off campaigns are not as successful as short term ones. Brands should find content creators they can have a long term working relationship with. Soon, travel recovery will be inevitable.