How The Vacationeer partners with creators to power its travel influencer marketing campaigns
The pandemic restricted travel, which has left many of us excited to begin traveling again. This leaves travel brands in an excellent position to market to potential travelers through social media marketing campaigns. To give you an edge, we had a chance to sit down with Jonathan LASTNAME from The Vacationeer to chat about how he partners with influencers to drive qualified leads to his travel business.
Jonathan has a background in real estate – both as a real estate agent and a real estate investor in the Massachusetts area. Today, he owns The Vacationeer, a travel agency specializing in Disney vacations, such as bookings for Disneyland, Disney World, Universal Studios, and the Disney Cruise Line.
With The Vacationeer, Jonathan frequently works with influencers to market his business. He started by identifying his target audience, which is people who are not necessarily searching for information on planning a Disney vacation but are people who are scrolling through social media and enjoying browsing travel content.
He specifically looks to work with influencers who are not “general travel” influencers but influencers in the Disney travel space. His personal strategy is to work with larger influencers because of the higher likelihood of getting a better return. Jonathan occasionally works with influencers on different levels, but he says he typically prefers working with larger influencers.
Once he’s identified influencers that The Vacationeer is interested in working with, Jonathan will launch into his influencer marketing strategy.
Long-Term Relationships and Influencer Marketing Strategy
So, how does Jonathan work with influencers? His strategy is always long-term relationship development. Rather than focusing on a per post sponsorship which feels more like buying a single ad placement, he opts for a continuous relationship with influencers.
He also works to help influencers integrate The Vacationeer content into their own content in a natural way that makes sense. When working with an influencer, Jonathan looks for influencers to share about The Vacationeer’s free service to help you plan a better Disney vacation.
Influencers he works with are usually on some kind of referral agreement, where the number of people referred is tracked, then the influencer is rewarded for the number of referrals. This gives the influencer a lot of control over the campaign’s success. The more they put into it, the more likely they are to have a greater number of referrals. At this point in the relationship, Jonathan will sit back and wait to see what comes of it.
One of the biggest influencers they regularly work with is the Disney Kiki on Tik Tok. She’s even an agent for The Vacationeer, and she frequently talks about the Disney vacation planning Jonathan’s company does. As you can see in the photo below, she has a vacationeer.com link in her bio, which is a referral link that tracks referrals from her.
@thedisneykiki Dont have to tell me twice 👀 #wdw #disneyparks #disneyworld50 #disneycreators #thedisneykiki ♬ original sound – prettyaxme
Jonathan does work with many influencers, and he is also expanding his social media work with their new YouTube channel and paying for ads through an agency. He regularly reaches out to influencers he works with to ask about their anecdotal evidence about their leads and their feelings on ways to improve the campaign.
The Vacationeer has also had some success with sponsoring a YouTube channel for a month for creators to run an ad in the middle of their video. As a whole, video is probably the most potent medium for The Vacationeer because people see Disney videos and get excited and are much more into it than a single photo post.
His biggest concern with ads is always making sure the ad comes across as natural. That’s why he greatly prefers ads that are in the middle of a video and incorporated into the content, rather than a video that starts by saying, “Today’s video is sponsored by The Vacationeer.” People tend to tune out the latter, which is a waste of money for The Vacationeer. Long-term relationships with influencers often feel much more natural to the influencer’s audience as well and feel less like an ad and more like a genuine love of the product or service.
What is the ROI?
It can be challenging for Jonathan to measure the ROI of his ads at times because people are less likely to book a vacation upon seeing an ad instantly. It may take people months to come back to the ad and book a Disney trip with The Vacationeer. However, a Disney vacation is obviously a much larger investment than a company advertising clothing or supplements, so this is expected. At the end of the day, what is most important is the quality of the leads and that the leads convert by filling out The Vacationeer’s online form or by calling them.
Jonathan’s Biggest Lesson About Influencer Marketing
Over his many years of influencer marketing, Jonathan has learned a lot. His biggest lesson?
Try it all. You won’t know if you don’t give it a shot.
He also recommends making sure that you and the influencer you are working with have a “meeting of the minds.” Be on the same page about the value they’re delivering and what value you’re delivering. He recommends being very clear on how that value is measured. For example, is the value determined by clicks, comments, purchases, or leads generated? This can heavily affect how an influencer will go about sharing content.
Another important lesson about advertising is that follower count doesn’t equal value. Many influencers look up information online about how much they should be paid for working with brands, and it’s typically based on their follower count. However, this doesn’t necessarily benefit the advertiser, who may not be seeing a good ROI simply because an influencer has a lot of followers. Inside, define your value and pay based on that. For example, paying based on referrals.
If an influencer is unsure about being paid based on referrals rather than a flat rate, show them proof of success. Have your numbers from other campaigns and show them what you paid out to other influencers based on their generated referrals. Recommend that the influencer shows their audience the value of your product or service, rather than simply plugging the product by saying, “by the way, you can book your vacation here..” This approach will pay off better for the brand and the influencer.
He also recommends making sure that you pick very specific influencers. Influencers who talk about a broad number of topics may not be the best pick. Instead, look for people with a particular audience and topic that aligns with your brand. If you are an influencer, he recommends creating substantial value to attract brands. Be unique on your platform and develop a specific audience and specific content.
Don’t take general brand deals. For example, if your YouTube channel talks about cars, don’t do an ad for Wix, a website developer. This lacks authenticity to your audience and won’t bring as much value to the brand. Work with companies that align with your own niche and value for the most mutually beneficial relationship.