As a family travel blogger and freelance travel writer my job is to create engaging content for my clients regardless of the size of their business. I’ve worked for a wide range of travel companies from small, independent glamping sites to international travel companies. What often surprises me, at both ends of the scale, is that often the content I create isn’t used to it’s full extent. I’d like to offer a few pointers derived from my own personal experience on how glamping businesses can make the most of a working relationship with a blogger, YouTuber or social media influencer. For clarification, I refer to these roles collectively as ‘influencers’.
1. Do your homework
First and foremost always make sure you research your influencer. Spend time checking out your potential influencer’s previous work. Is it good quality? Is it right for your target market? Is it likely to appeal to their own followers? If you are a family site look for family influencers, whereas if your target audience is honeymooners you might be better suited to working with a young couple.
2. Don’t get caught up with follower / reach stats
It’s an easy assumption to make that the more followers an influencer has the better the outcome. However it’s important to consider whether your chosen influencer will reach your target market. For example, an Australian blogger with an audience of 20k+ might sound like a no brainier…but if their followers are largely based in a geographical area that isn’t relevant to your market is it worth while? Identifying a local influencer with a smaller following and focus audience relevant to your site might be a much better partnership despite the fact their statistics might be significantly smaller. Again do your homework and follow the rule ‘quality not quantity’.
3. Lay out clear expectations
Be certain to outline your expectations prior to your influencer visiting. Think about aspects of your site you would like to highlight to a particular market e.g. asking a parent blogger to feature a review of new play equipment or an outdoor blogger to promote your activity packages. Be clear about your expectations in an email when agreeing the terms of stay…these emails are the equivalent to a contract. I generally guarantee a minimum of 500 words written content and the use of any images or video I use for promotional purposes but this will vary between influencers. Setting out clear expectations will help guide your reviewer as to what to focus on, whilst allowing you more control and satisfaction over the finished product.
4. Share, share, share
It always surprises me how often I create content that isn’t promoted by the business I’m working for. If your influencer is sharing photos / videos / written content during their stay share it on your own channels to your own followers. Exposure and fresh content is the aim of the game.
5. Consider a social media ‘takeover’
Sometimes influencers are happy to diarise their stay through their social media channels throughout their visit. This might mean that the influencer shares aspects of their stay directly with their followers through Instagram stories or regular Facebook posts during their stay. It’s generally win / win all round allowing an intimate insight into aspects of your accommodation for potential guests whilst offering influencers an opportunity for increased engagement amongst their own followers.
6. Use the content on your own website
Once your influencer has completed the agreed content package consider ways in which you might use their work on your own website. You might want to think about using images featured in a review to showcase activities (always credit the influencer when doing this), written extracts could feature in your testimonials…or video footage on your homepage giving an overall sense of a typical stay.
7. Enquire about your influencers other skills
Influencers tend to be creative folk with more than one string to their bow. Most bloggers, for example, will have a professional background in other lines of work or a particular hobby or skill they may be willing to incorporate into their review package. Bloggers may well freelance for other publications (online and print), have a physical skill that could highlight a niche aspect of your property (eg kayaking / hiking / mountain biking) or a specific media skill like creating drone footage. It certainly doesn’t hurt to get to know your influencers range of skills and use them to your advantage.
8. Look at your working relationship as long term
If you are really happy with the work created by your influencer, why not consider using them on an annual basis? Building up long term relationships will allow a better understanding of your business and will encourage a steady stream of support throughout the year in terms of social media posts and shares. You can focus on different aspects of your business with each review whilst feeling reassured that the content will reflect the true ethos of your Glamping business.
9. Make the most of the off-season
If you’re a new or small site it might make sense to restrict your influencer trips to the very early / late holiday seasons when the weather is less favourable and bookings quieter. However, this may also make it difficult to show the glamping facilities at their best…and depending on your accommodation cold weather may certainly have a bearing on the influencers overall experience. A happy compromises might be to look a quiet weekdays / weekends during term time where bookings are quieter but the weather is still warm enough to ensure a positive stay. If you’re still undecided as to whether working with influencers is worthwhile…ask yourself…if you are likely to have limited or no bookings…what have you got to lose?
10. Be fair
I know a minority of businesses maintain the perception that influencers are not worth their value…indeed they may have had their own negative experience which sadly does happen. This certainly doesn’t apply for the majority. I spend a long time after each review stay researching, writing, editing photos and creating social content. The amount of working hours I spend on a review can often equate to a greater value than the cost of the trip I’m writing about. I feel very lucky to have been invited to so many wonderful places and to have been looked after by so many welcoming hosts..but it is important to make sure that the exchange (on both sides) is fair. Consider: How far the influencer might be travelling to reach you? Is it worth their while travelling this distance for the period of stay you have offered in return? How long you are willing to host them? Is it long enough to get a good taste of what you offer onsite? If you’re asking for extras such as video content or exclusive use of photos perhaps you could extend the stay…or include a welcome hamper? It’s important to make sure that both parties are happy with the terms of the review.
I do hope this offers some useful starter points for those of you new to influencer marketing. I’m not a marketing expert and the world of PR is still relatively new to me. This is advice I have devised myself over 2 years of writing for glamping sites. I hope it offers some guidance in finding the perfect influencer relationship ahead of the 2019 season….let me know!