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In the age of social media, travel influencers have become a significant part of marketing. In the past, we’ve talked about the benefits of influencer marketing(opens in a new tab), and how to build a relationship with them(opens in a new tab). But given the current circumstances and the inability to travel, what role or benefit can travel influencers play, if any at all? Many businesses are likely feeling a pinch, and online marketing seems like an easy cut for reducing costs or something to simply put on hold until a later time. However, the irony here is that with everyone stuck indoors seemingly glued to their phones and dreaming of their future vacations, more eyes than usual are eager for fun, engaging content and ultimately, inspiration for the future.

The Current Situation

While it’s important to promote safe and responsible tourism practices in alignment with governmental policies, this doesn’t mean that influence marketing doesn’t have a role to play. If you’re able to work with an influencer from your city, area, or country this adds a personalized local touch. Consider influencers as another form of insider opinion that potential customers can turn to for validation. In Finland, the government has gone as far as using influencers for their unique reach in order to relay critical information to their citizens(opens in a new tab), proving that their credibility is not one to be dismissed. In current times, there needs to be a careful balance between armchair travel or promotion, and the everyday reality providing an authentic perspective with circumstance-sensitive and informative content, all while maintaining a positive outlook.

As Travel Picks Up Again

With travel being a source of their incoming revenue, it’s also likely that influencers will be among the first to venture out as travel restrictions soften. As things begin to open, there will undeniably be lingering hesitation amongst many travelers, so influencers have the potential to be a valuable resource in helping drive the return of tourism. Many questions and feelings of uncertainty will persist at the onset, in terms of what locations will, in fact, be open, getting around, as well as how safety and hygiene are being handled. Travel influencers will be the pioneers, offering their solutions and first-hand accounts along the way. With much of tourism generally aimed at international travellers, there is also the potential for influencers playing a more significant role in bridging the gap between promoting international and local tourism in ways that larger tourism boards may not be doing or able to.

Working With an Influencer

As a business, one of the potential benefits of turning towards influencer marketing during COVID-19 and moving forward is the cost. Like most other services, price reductions are an outcome that you can capitalize on. Take into account that these are people who are also facing their own difficulties, so be reasonable. Try offering a mixed-compensation model for example, which includes a free tour, which then also provides another layer or benefit as the influencer will have actually taken your tour. Remember the appeal factor of an influencer is often their relatability and the fact that they’re an individual that other travelers can connect to rather than a company. Most importantly, by partnering with influencers now you’ll be able to showcase to more eyes than usual so that when the time comes, your business and area will be up and running with the necessary precautions. Again, minimizing ongoing fears and anxieties, but highlighting that it’s a worthwhile experience for people when they are able to start travelling again.

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