We have all seen it. Influencers flaunting their luxurious stays at 5-star resorts and hotels on social media, whether it’s the pristine beaches of the Maldives or the vibrant culture of Mexico. The allure of these dreamy destinations is undeniable, and when your favorite influencer is raving about it, it quickly becomes something you want to try also. Welcome to the power of influencer marketing and UGC.
For years now, hotels and resorts have used the creative force and reach of UGC as a cornerstone of their marketing strategies. Why? Because it possesses a unique ability to break traditional marketing boundaries, reaching audiences that might never have been on the radar through conventional channels.
While some collaborations involve a financial exchange, the majority thrive on a barter system, a delightful quid pro quo where both parties come out on top. The influencers get to revel in the lavish offerings of the hotel or resort, and in return, they create content that the hotel can use and share stories, reels and posts that expose the hotel or resort to their engaged audience.
Think about it. How many times have you learned about a beautiful hotel from someone’s Instagram account?
But it’s not just about the glamour and glitz; it’s a strategic move. These collaborations are carefully curated to tap into the authenticity and trust that influencers inherently bring to the table. Done wrong, these collaborations can leave hotel and resort owners giving more than they get.
The key to a successful partnership lies in strategic planning, clear communication, and a mutual understanding of goals. So, in this guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of collaborating with influencers, providing valuable insights for hoteliers and surf resort managers looking to get the vert most out of influencer marketing.
Why do hotels work with influencers?
Alright, let’s start here. When hotels team up with influencers, there is a trade for services, such as, 2 nights stay and 2 dinners in return for 30 high-res images, 4 reels and a blog article. They give the room, they get the content. But why do they do it?
Influencers have the ability to make waves or set trends on social media. When they showcase your hotel or surf resort to their followers, it’s like getting a VIP pass to a huge audience.
More eyeballs on your place means more people thinking, “Hey, that hotel looks awesome, I wanna check it out!”
Influencers aren’t just about fancy pics and polished captions. They build real connections with their followers. You should always look to work with influencers who have an engaged audience and ones who give us much care and attention to nurturing and actively engaging with their audiences as they do hunting collaboration opportunities.
When they give your hotel a shoutout, it’s not just an ad – it’s like a friend recommending a cool spot. That authenticity goes a long way in winning over new guests.
Boosting the Cool Factor
Picture this, Koa Smith posts a video of his stay at your resort, scoring pumping HTs out front. That instantly exposes your name to his 160K YouTube followers, and almost 300k Instagram followers. His engaged audience of mostly people with an interest in surf and travel have now seen your resort and are going to be influenced to add it to their list of places to visit. If he likes it, it must be good right?
Influencers bring a fresh vibe and style. Their content makes your place look not just like a hotel, resort or surf camp, but a lifestyle – a place people want to be part of.
Influencers are kind of like trust brokers. Their followers trust their opinions and recommendations.
So, when an influencer gives a thumbs-up to your hotel, it’s like a stamp of approval that people can rely on. Trust is the secret sauce for turning lookers into bookers.
Ride the Trend Train
Influencers are trendsetters. They’re always on top of the latest and greatest.
When they showcase your hotel, you’re riding the trend train. It keeps your brand looking fresh and relevant, attracting those trend-savvy travelers.
Social Media Buzz
Social media is where it’s at, right? Influencers know the ins and outs of platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, and your collaboration should utilize all of their strong points.
When they share their experience at your hotel, it creates a buzz. Suddenly, your place is all over feeds, stories, and timelines.
Identifying the Right Influencers
So now we know a bit about what influencers bring to the table, we need to find the right ones for us.
I know, I know, everyone out there is an influencer, from tech to travel, there are a LOT of “influencers” out there, ranging from wannabes to international superstars.
As a hotel, surf camp, surf resort or whatever, it’s important that you work with people who align with your business ethos and brand and who will sell your business to the right people in the right manner.
It’s also so important to see past the numbers. 250,000 followers mean nothing to your surf camp if their audience follows cause they simply like tits. These people probably aren’t going to come stay.
Meanwhile, an influencer who surfs and travels with 10k followers who are all following along to learn about the best places to travel and surf around the world is going to bring a lot more value to the table.
It’s important to align with the influencers you choose to work with. Their style, language and their audiences are all very important things you should consider. So here are some tips on finding the right influencers.
Define Your Goals
What specific goals do you aim to achieve through influencer collaboration? Increased brand awareness, boosted bookings, or positioning your hotel as a surf destination? Do you want to become a household name among travel enthusiasts, or do you have a specific niche audience in mind?
Clearly define your objectives to guide your influencer selection. Seek influencers whose style, audience, and content align seamlessly with your objectives. If it’s about global brand awareness, influencers with a broad reach might be your match.
For boosting bookings, consider those with a knack for creating compelling call-to-action content. If you aim to be well-known in the surf community for the best waves, collaborate with influencers deeply rooted in the surf culture.
Know Your Audience
Who are your target guests, and what type of influencers resonate with them? Consider factors like age, interests, and travel preferences to align with influencers whose followers match your desired clientele.
If you are a surf camp looking to get more beginner surfers through the doors, find someone who appeals to that audience, maybe they are a surf coach, or maybe they regularly offer tips on surfing and how-to’s to their audience as their audience is more likely to be looking for the best places to learn and progress their surfing.
If you are a luxury 5 star hotel that caters for the high-end market, you want to choose an influencer that matches your offering. The budget backpacker influencer whose following is made up of 18-year-olds getting ready for their first trips abroad does not align with your target customer as this audience is more than likely looking for budget-friendly travel options. Not a 5-star luxury stay.
Knowing your own audience will help you find the influencers that actually engage with other similar people.
Authenticity Over Follower Count
We said it in the intro to this section. Look beyond follower numbers. Authenticity and engagement are crucial.
Assess an influencer’s content, audience interaction, and relevance to your brand. Micro-influencers with a dedicated following can often provide more genuine connections.
Crafting a Win-Win Collaboration
Establish Clear Expectations
It’s essential to clearly communicate your expectations and goals to potential influencers. Whether you are paying or making a trade for accommodation, you are both making a transaction for services, so your expectations should be clearly defined.
Make sure to define the scope of work, deliverables, and the timeline for the collaboration. This makes sure that the influencers know what is expected of them in return for what you are giving.
Discuss expectations with potential influencers, and don’t be afraid to say no. It’s important to remember that you are running a business and while this is a two-way deal, as a business, you come first. If the expectations can’t be met or you feel something is off, it’s time to move on.
Develop a Mutually Beneficial Partnership
While we have set expectations from a business perspective, this should be a mutually beneficial collaboration. Consider what value your hotel or surf resort can offer to influencers. It could be a complimentary stay, exclusive experiences, or discounts for their followers.
Ensure that the collaboration is a two-way street. You want to show your hotel, surf camp, resort or brand in the very best light to their followers. Treating them to unique experiences that blow them away and that they can share to their followers is a great way to showcase your offerings.
You want to give the influencers you work with amazing experiences to share, so work with your chosen influencer to make a mutually beneficial partnership.
Negotiate Terms and Compensation:
We won’t get too deep into this right now. But it’s important to be transparent about compensation, whether it’s monetary, in-kind, or a combination.
Negotiating terms that align with your budget while providing fair value to the influencer helps set the tone for the whole thing.