Imagine going to different exciting places and getting perks and payouts for enjoying yourself! Sounds too good to be true, but this job does exist! We’re talking about travel influencers who belong to the global influencer industry, valued at $13.8M in 2021 alone. And these professional wanderlusters are a huge part of that market. This is no surprise considering that people today look to social media for inspiration and advice in almost every aspect of their lives, including their travel plans.
According to one research, 86% of people decide on their destination after seeing a post on social media. Such is the power of travel influencers to impact the travel and tourism industry. So, if your dream job is going to different places and savoring new experiences, then becoming a travel influencer may be your OTP (one true pairing). This article will let you in on what a travel influencer is and what it takes to be one.
What is a travel influencer?
A travel influencer generates top-quality content related to travel, tourism, and culture. Using popular social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube, they typically travel and share pictures or videos of where they’ve been, what they’ve eaten, and what activities they’ve participated in while staying at their destination.
Through sharing their experiences, they encourage and inspire their followers to go on their own adventures. These influencers often partner with companies involved in the travel and adventure tourism industry, such as outdoor gear and apparel businesses, hotels, restaurants, airlines, telecom—the list goes on. Some consider being a travel influencer as a full-time job, others see it as a part-time gig.
What do travel influencers do?
Travel influencers have gained the trust of their followers because they tell their travel stories just like how they went through them. You may find many travel bloggers who aren’t afraid to share even the not-so-nice things that happen in their journeys. Followers trust influencers to tell it like it is. And this is one effective way to create a strong following.
However, hundreds of thousands of followers generally doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll want to constantly create top-notch content that social media netizens would find interesting and want to get more of. At your travel destination, take original, clear, and attention-grabbing photos or videos that can pique your audience’s curiosity. Travel influencers typically write about their experiences, too, so their followers can get a better grasp of the places visited as if they’d been there themselves.
As you build your following, brands in the travel sector may soon find themselves reaching out to partner with you. Or you could contact them as soon as you feel confident enough about gaining a substantial number of followers. Don’t worry if they don’t run into the millions just yet.
There are many successful micro-influencers with just a little over 10,000 but have built a strong connection with their internet friends and fans. Once you’ve established a partnership with a brand, you can promote and sell their products or services.
How to become a travel influencer
Where do you sign up, you ask? Here are the steps that will take you to your destination:
1. Become an expert in your field.
While you don’t need to earn a Ph.D. to become a travel influencer (although you could do that too!), you’ll need to establish credibility and carve your reputation in your chosen travel niche. Otherwise, how can you stand out from the average YouTuber or Instagrammer who just logs online and posts photos of them on vacation? Your followers are your followers for the simple reason that your content adds value to their lives. So, whether you choose to focus on national parks or vacations for risk-takers, you’ll need to continuously research and serve up material that’s authoritative and relevant to your specific audience.
2. It’s never not a sales pitch.
Although travel influencers don’t knock on doors the way traveling salespeople used to do back in the day, they still need to help seal the deal. That is, if you genuinely want to make a career out of travel influencing. Your blogs, photos, and even travel how-tos typically direct your followers’ attention to a product or service you want to promote. And it isn’t just your partner brands that you are selling—you are also marketing yourself. So it would be best if you came up with a distinct personality for your brand that’s consistently reflected in the content you share.
3. Remember that patience (along with courage!) is a virtue.
Rarely will you come across a travel influencer that has become a social media star overnight. More often than not, there’s a behind-the-scenes story that will tell you about all the hard work put into becoming a successful travel expert online. Many truly start from scratch and have to handle negative comments and criticisms that may come their way as “public figures.” It also takes time for brands to notice you and decide to include you in their legit roster of travel influencers.
And if you’re applying to become a partner or affiliate and no one is giving you the time of day, don’t worry. Stay focused on building your brand, creating quality content, and enhancing your connection with your audience. If you consistently keep at it, businesses may soon realize that your increasing influence over your followers is worth pouring their resources into.
4. Advanced social media knowledge may give you a competitive edge.
If you can’t measure success, you aren’t likely to achieve it. Instead, you’ll be investing countless hours and expending so much energy (even money!) just shadow boxing without hitting any of your goals. However, if you can check your numbers against specific standards, you can quickly determine if your strategy is working. If it isn’t, you can course-correct or tweak your plan as necessary. If you’re serious about becoming a travel influencer, there are numerous social media performance-tracking apps such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social that can help you analyze and be more strategic.
Types of travel influencers
A key strategy to a successful travel influencer career is to focus on one area of specialization instead of spreading yourself too thinly. Here are five types of travel influencer niches that you can choose to specialize in:
1. Budget travel influencers
People are always searching for ways to get the most bang for their buck. And this is why budget influencers, regardless of industry or niche, will always find someone interested in saving tips and tricks. This is especially true of many travelers who are constantly looking to visit the best destinations at a price they can afford or would be willing to spend. This niche can work with budget sites for hotels, airlines, and tour companies, offering highly competitive group travel packages.
2. Solo travel influencers
You have the most adventurous of the pack via solo travel influencers. This niche is quite flexible, with budgets ranging from affordable to mind-boggling. As far as activities are concerned, anything goes. This type of travel influencer has the freedom to make decisions on the fly as they are moving about on their own. According to Explore Worldwide, solo traveling is on the uptrend. They report that about 66% of their bookings come from this group.
3. Luxury travel influencers
The crème de la crème of influencers include luxury travel bloggers and vloggers. This can be quite an exclusive group because not everyone can spend thousands of dollars on first-class airline tickets of five-star hotels from the get-go. This type of travel influencer typically works with travel or tourism companies that cater to high society, such as Hollywood A-listers, who may be macro travel influencers. This influencer niche can also be quite competitive and demanding, but you’re sure to get a good commission owing to the high prices of luxury goods and services.
4. Medical travel influencers
Medical travel is growing significantly. Every year, millions of Americans travel overseas to get healthcare far from their usual hospitals’ stark and aseptic environs. Instead, they opt to get expert medical attention in resort destinations where they can relax and have a comfortable time. One such destination is the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz in Switzerland, which offers a comprehensive medical health center and spa. Medical travel is also an option for another group of travelers, people from developed nations who want to get more affordable but equally high-quality medical care in other countries. Businesses that typically partner with medical travel influencers are hospitals, medical spas, and specialty service providers.
5. Foodie travel influencers
For this type of travel influencer, food is life. They’re a specialized group of foodies who don’t limit their gastronomic adventures to the tried-and-tested local hangouts. They don’t mind traveling the distance to discover and savor culinary finds. Thus, they can scour even the least-known holes in the wall for the most delicious meals. This gives them the credibility to do resto reviews and provide recos for gourmets and gourmands alike.
Best Instagram Travel Influencers
Get inspired by this list of some of the most famous travel influencers on Instagram.
Name: Sorelle Amore
Home country: Australia
Specialization: Adventure travel
Name: Oneika Raymond
Home country: Canada
Specialization: Socio-political travel (exploration of the intersections of race, politics, and privilege) and Travel for women
Name: Nathalie Aron
Home country: Germany
Specialization: Luxury travel
Name: Darling Coco
Home country: U.S.
Specialization: Luxury travel
Name: Theron Humphrey
Home country: U.S.
Specialization: Adventure travel
Name: Olivier Wong
Home country: Paris
Specialization: Travel photography
Name: Murad and Nataly Osmann
Home country: Russia
Specialization: Cultural travel
Becoming a travel influencer may not necessarily be an easy road. It takes passion for traveling, patience, research, and the willingness to be “out there” to become a successful wanderluster. Just it do it right and you may well be on your way to becoming the next top travel influencer.