Hospitality Marketing Influencers: trends and instructions for use

According to the 2020 Multichannel Observatory by the Milan Polytechnic School of Management, conducted in partnership with Nielsen, 77% of consumers have searched for products and services to acquire via the internet. Amongst the various sectors analysed,     travel was number one in terms of users of the web and social networks to glean information and make bookings. An independent consumer survey revealed that in the 18 – 34 age group, around 22% of users followed the advice of an ‘influencer’    to complete  their purchase. Indeed, social shopping is considered an increasingly popular trend amongst younger and more technologically-minded consumers.

Key word: trust! 

From celebrities to micro-influencers, there are many opportunities for brands and hospitality to create awareness and generate new sales, but this requires a precise strategy in order to define objectives, choose testimonials and channels and respect advertising rules.

Travel is an ideal experience on which to graft personal and branded stories. Travel influencers always use the web, from blogs to social media, to share their experiences and involve the public. Over the past two years, despite the restrictions imposed  by the pandemic that have caused a halt to tourism, the subject has generated considerable interest. There are over 1.4 million organic contents created by influencers in 2020 (Data source: Buzzoole Discovery). And of the total number of travel-related  posts, only 0.63% of them were sponsored. In the first five months of 2021, a slight increase in the number of sponsored posts was recorded (+0.4%) compared to the previous year.

Furthermore, according to Buzzoole, the most commonly used channel for sharing tourism and hospitality content is Instagram with an 86.3% share, followed by Facebook and Twitter. TikTok, on the other hand, came in last as it is still relatively unexploited.   If we divide the Italian followers and travel influencers on Instagram by level, novices and micro-creators (with 10 – 30k followers) account for the highest number with a 74.27% share of the market, whereas the top and social star groups (with  over  100k followers) only account for 5% of the total.

For hotels and resorts, the focus is mainly on the Luxury segment. In fact, hotels use curated and carefully post-produced product placements, hiring influencers from the Fashion/Lifestyle sector with more than 300,000 followers or Travel Creators who   are able to promote a glamorous and luxurious lifestyle. Over the past 12 months, Italian hotels and resorts have mainly advertised the innovative ‘staycation’ formula. In other words, staying in a hotel in your hometown to enjoy being pampered,  as  if you were on holiday, and to take a break from the daily routine.

Tourism organisations mainly employ a Storytelling strategy, combined with inspirational images, stimulating users to dream of visiting that specific geographical area. In 2020, it was mostly Italian tourism organisations that used Marketing Influencers,   but at the start of 2021 with the arrival of the Green Pass, other foreign organisations, such as ‘Go Turkey’ and ‘Visit Argentina’ also engaged Italian influencers in an attempt to promote international tourism. The creators chosen for these  campaigns  are generally vertical Travel and Fashion Globetrotter influencers with a fan base of over 300 thousand.

Some suggestions for effective marketing influencer campaigns 

A good Marketing Influencer strategy is predominantly based on the following steps:

  • The choice of scouting channel, depending on the client target and desired outcome. If your target market is really young and you want to promote a fun image, then consider TikTok;
  • Budget and payment for the work of the influencers. This will depend a great deal on the dimension of your profile and purchasing power.  Engaging celebrities with several hundreds of thousands of followers and having the possibility to host them for free is not always enough and it is not necessarily the most appropriate choice. Nano-influencers or micro-influencers are often more effective and suitable, i.e. those that have from 2,000 to 10,000 followers on Instagram and who are very specialised with a high engagement rate on their fanbase;
  • The creation of a brief, including communication guidelines as well as the mentions and hashtags to be used. Influencers are not an advertising billboard. They have their own style which must be respected. It is essential to provide them with all the information about your brand in the correct fashion and not to expect them to just ‘copy and paste’;
  • Data collection, outcome and return analysis. According to a study by the Talkwalker platform, there is an increasing number of brands that undertake marketing influencer campaigns aimed at pure lead generation and not only at brand awareness. This is a complex business, somewhere between PR and social media marketing, so it is often not deemed measurable. It is important to set up an analysis method in advance (for example, to offer a personalised discount code dedicated to the fanbase to each testimonial involved).

The top performing sponsored travel posts of 2021 

The National Marketing Influencer Observatory, together with Talkwalker, periodically analyses posts on Instagram with appropriate hashtags to use in the collaboration between brands and influencers. 

Here are some of the hashtags that were analysed: 

#ad #adv #advertising #sponsored #sponsoredby #giftedby #gifted #sponsorizzato #suppliedby #supplied #ad #adv #advertising #sponsored #sponsoredby #giftedby #gifted #sponsorizzato #suppliedby #supplied

Amongst the top-performing posts in June ‘21, a month which reflects the summer season, is this one, created by Valentina Vignali for a hotel in Alta Badia. Other successful examples between April and May 2021 included posts by Belen Rodriguez for a tour operator in Tuscany and a resort in the Maldives.