PR Discussion: Travel Influencers


Two recent articles on travel influencers created lively conversations around the Bed and Brunch PR office. We started weighing the pros and cons of complimentary stays and perks for bloggers, podcasters, etc. How much is too much to give in exchange for a story? It seems everyone has a different take.


Take a look at what ignited our discussions. First, we came across this CNN piece where a beach club owner lost his temper and responded in a less than elegant way toward ‘freeloading’ Instagram influencers. That story led us to search for others, where we stumbled upon a hotel that banned all bloggers after being contacted one too many times for a free stay. So, who’s right here? Tact aside, where’s the line? It seems that depends. The internet has changed a lot about how things happen and this concept is worth a full investigation.

Let’s back up… what is an influencer anyway?

In short, an influencer is somebody that has a large number of followers who value (or at the very least see) what this person is doing. They tend to share their travel experiences on Instagram, twitter, Facebook, and blogs. This is their job, or perhaps better phrased… they have made this their job. It’s important to keep that component in mind. This position as “influencer” is something that they have taken a great deal of time to cultivate and it is how they make their living. It is something like a modern day pitchman. Those of us of a certain age will remember Billy Martin and Bob Uecker selling beer. It’s like that, but generated from the pitchman themselves rather than being hired by any particular company. 

Two examples of successful influencer marketing that came immediately to mind are the Fyre Festival and the Fidget Spinner.

The short story of the Fyre Festival (in the event one wants to dig into the Fyre Festival more deeply there are two terrific documentaries, one on Amazon and one on Netflix) is that they used influencer marketing to great success. The festival promotion had such great success that the organizers were completely unprepared to follow through on their promises. The Fyre Festival created an influencer campaign very much on purpose and with great skill.

The Fidget Spinner, you may remember, went from being something nobody knew about to something that every child had within the course of two weeks back in 2017. The Fidget Spinner was talked about by a couple of YouTubers with large followings. Much like how Rosie O’Donnell (back when she had a non-polarizing daytime talk show in 1996) made a surprise plug for the Tickle me Elmo that caused a run on the product and many shortages for the holidays.

Next month we are going to investigate if/how an influencer can be useful in promoting your B&B or boutique hotel. Until then, take a look at three high profile Influencers in the travel space: