Influencer marketing has been growing exponentially the last few years, amounting to what some sources estimate is a billion dollar industry. Celebrities, as well as social media “cool kids”, have jumped on the influencers’ bandwagon, cooperating with brands to promote anything from food to clothes to hotels to stationary to utensils to airlines to house deodorizers. But in this increasingly saturated landscape, where accusations of fraud and backlash grow as does the budget allocated for influencer marketing, what a hotel has to know to make an educated decision about who t to work with – that is if to work with anyone in the first place?
1. Start with your hotel marketing goals
First things first, make sure that influencer marketing is a suitable vehicle for your business goals. As a tool, it can be excellent to generate awareness for your brand, a new property or a new service within an existing property, but it may not be suitable to drive large amounts of immediate sales. If it is loyalty or bookings you are looking for, maybe another campaign option is more suitable.
2. Consider your campaign and the influencer’s role in it
This principle applies to all marketing activations, but it is easy to be forgotten when having the opportunity to use a celebrity, social or otherwise, to promote your hotel: it is a lot more effective to find a way to incorporate your influencer in a wider campaign that has clear, set goals, relies on more than one media, and offers people multiple touch points with your brand. Do not just host an influencer in return for some social posts (more on that later) – either find a way to naturally incorporate him in an existing campaign, or built one around him if you prefer, but make him just one part of the equation.
Influencers can be used at any point of a marketing funnel: in the beginning, to draw people to the brand, as content creators, to populate your campaign materials with more authentic stuff, at the end to validate people’s choices. They can be very good multipliers, so make sure there are other components in the equation they can multiply!
3. Assess the influencer’s niche
For many industries, this may be a no-brainer, but for travel brands and hotels things are somewhat different: the obvious choice, travel influencers, may not be the best one, as they are not necessarily popular with your desired audience. For example, if you run an all-inclusive resort for families, travel influencers, usually young and unattached, may not attract the right crowd to your brand. Considering your guests’ interests and choosing an influencer that speaks to them is the better choice here: this way, you will reach people that are more likely to be genuinely attracted to your brand and to convert.
4. Consider their brand and affiliations
It is important to examine a potential influencer’s personal brand before choosing him, to make sure it is in alignment with yours. Aesthetics and tone of voice, values and lifestyle, all should fit with your hotel’s brand, in order for the result to appear natural, and therefore be more effective.
Whatsmore, and as people increasingly want the brands they choose to take a stand on social and political issues, it is also important to examine a candidate’s past brand affiliations, to make sure there are no issues that will affect you negatively by association.
Thirdly, it is also important to consider their work with your competition. Again, it may seem common sense but it worth repeating that you will want to steer clear of people that were waxing poetic about your next door competitor a couple of posts ago, otherwise their message will seem dishonest, and that will significantly reduce all the benefits the influencer may bring to your hotel brand.
5. Examine the influencer’s reach
Macro- mega- and celebrity influencers (101K and above followers), enticing though they may seem at first, may not be the perfect fit for your brand. Budget considerations aside, their huge audiences may contain only a fragment of the audiences you are targeting – that is only one of the many disadvantages they have: micro influencers are considered more genuine, have more loyal followers and a more homogenous fan base in terms of demographics, are easier to book and work with and have feeds that do not read like a magazine of ads. In fact, marketers agree that for most markets, micro influencers are more effective.
One last thing to consider
Before finalizing your deal with an influencer, make sure to check what types of content he will create, depending on your owned channels and the structure of the campaign he will be part of. For example, it may make sense to choose an influencer that can write blog posts as well if you have a blog (and you should have one) for your hotel, instead of a videographer. Although, basically speaking, their main role in your campaign is to promote your hotel to their fans, do not forget that some of them are seasoned content creators, each in their own medium, and this consideration may add another layer in your campaign!
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