Pool cleaners, stationery lovers, gamers and ‘realistic’ bakers – all these niches have one thing in common – a presence on social media and more specifically Instagram or TikTok, where there is an influencer for almost everything or anything. However, that doesn’t mean that they are the right fit influencer. When it comes to hotels and hospitality influencer marketing there are three questions that need to be asked before they are even approached about a collaboration: What’s in it for me? Who are they? Who are they influencing?
What’s in it for me?
This is the starting point. Why are you looking to work with influencers, and what outcomes are you hoping to get out of working with them? The list of content outputs from social media channels is growing all the time; grid posts, stories, broadcasts, reels, to name just a few. Many influencers have a presence across more than one platform, which is important to map out and understand to determine which channels would be most beneficial.
With social media increasingly being used as a search tool by users seeking travel inspiration, brands should be carefully considering their channel strategy when it comes to influencer partnerships and ensuring that any content created from the partnership is ‘findable’ either via hashtags, highlights or channels optimised for search such as TikTok and YouTube Shorts.
Before there was social media, there were bloggers, and they still hold just as much importance today due to the longevity and the searchability of their content through SEO and google search results. Finding the balance between blogs and the variety of social media channels that influencers are likely to have is key and will vary between hotels. Is it better to have beautiful Instagram content which has high engagement rates and distribution, or a written content piece that has longevity? There is no right answer, simply what is required as an outcome for a particular partnership.
Who are they?
According to trendHERO There are more than 64 million influencer accounts on Instagram alone, sharing content on all sorts of things – how to do DIY, training your dog, or ASMR (the tapping or ripping videos you’ve likely seen!), and they may have thousands of followers, likes, comments and engagement. The question is – how do you find an influencer that is a good match for your brand and product? Who are they and how do you decide who to work with?
A mutually beneficial partnership happens when a brand and an influencer fall within the same category. Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok are content-hungry, and the machine constantly needs feeding so that influencers can keep their engagement rates and numbers at a strong level for future partnerships. Content that falls far outside of the influencer’s ‘usual’ may not fare as well with their followers and consequently have an impact on the engagement rate – a lose-lose scenario.
Luckily for us there is an influencer for everything, and in the case of hospitality there is an abundance of travel influencers that are primed and ready for review stay opportunities, which creates visual and powerful content. Established travel influencers have followers who expect content that gives them travel inspiration – and therefore hotel reviews fit nicely into the same category.
Within just the travel niche there are variables such as luxe, budget, couples, family-friendly, solo, and pet travellers – needless to say, not every hotel will fit all those categories, so to find the right match there needs to be an understanding of those variables and how they apply. This may also fluctuate during the year and any given season – especially for family-friendly stays during the school holidays. Research using keywords and hashtags is key, and we also recommend spending time scrolling through old content to ensure the influencer’s content is a good fit for the hotel.
There are influencers outside the sphere of travel who also have a need for hotels to fuel their content needs, whether it’s to attend special conventions and events, or destination-led content trips. Whilst they are less likely to produce full travel reviews, mutually beneficial content can be agreed in advance to ensure appropriate exposure for the hotel to a potentially new audience. It’s all about finding an angle and reason for the influencer to visit your hotel.
With any influencer, previous content also needs to be deemed appropriate, and non-conflicting to prevent any difficult situations or embarrassment – be warned!
Who are they influencing?
Once you have established a good content fit, it’s time to review the numbers to further assess suitability. Custard continues to invest in several influencer-vetting tools and platforms to review an influencer’s followers, providing an overview of fake followings, engagement rates and the demographics of the followers. These are important to give an overall perspective of the value of the influencer’s content, and the reach it is likely to have:
- Followers: Putting it simply, the bigger the number of followers, the bigger the sphere of reach and influence that influencer has. This is usually the first number that is looked at as it determines whether they are a niche, micro, or macro influencer which can then be applied to the hotel’s target audience and strategy. Remember though numbers can be about vanity and you really need to focus on engagement.
- Fake followings: inevitable due to the nature of social media, however, there is a tipping point of what level of fake followers are deemed acceptable which varies depending on the number of original followers, engagement rates, and their overall suitability of content. Given that these fake followers are likely bots, the likelihood of engagement from them is extremely low so it’s important to assess on a case-by-case basis
- Engagement rates: with these, the higher the better. As there is no set percentage, these are reviewed alongside the other key factors in the decision making process
- Demographics: a young, funky, modern hotel in a vibrant city centre, or a hotel with more historical styling and grandeur? On first impression each would likely appeal to a very different demographic, however, it’s essential to consider who the hotel is currently targeting within their marketing plans and that this is always filtered through any tactics, including influencer marketing.
The numbers tell one side of the story, but further research into the types of comments and engagements that an influencer receives builds the picture even further – do they respond and engage back with their followers? Do the commentors engage with each other? This can be linked back to the content being posted – does the influencer run a lot of competitions and giveaways which can attract ‘freebie seekers’, or are they genuinely engaged with their audience?
This initial groundwork is essential to ensure alignment before even contacting an influencer to ensure that the process is smooth sailing, and all involved parties are clear on the desired outcomes and objectives.
To find out more about building an influencer strategy for your hotel, get in touch with the Custard team.