Influencer Marketing and the Evolution of WOM Marketing
There is no doubt that word of mouth is one of the most effective and trusted forms of marketing, and this is particularly true within the accommodation industry. As a sector built on reviews, there is nothing more valuable to an accommodation-based business than to have people talking about your property. In 2020 the ways in which people do this has changed dramatically, from humble beginnings on review websites, word of mouth marketing has evolved into a complex web of Instagram influencers, travel bloggers and sponsored posts. The good news is, there is more opportunity than even to get the good word out to your guests.
You might be thinking, what is an influencer? Often influencers are just everyday people who have built a living sharing their passion online. This could be beauty, fashion or travel and is most prevalent on social media platforms including Instagram and YouTube. The reason who these influencers are so successful is because they have the ability to build real connections with their followers, which gives them significant influence over their audience.
A whopping 80% of marketers find influencer marketing effective, according to mediakix, and state that it enables their brand to build trust and expand their reach, whilst influencing purchase decisions. Arguably, no industry is better suited to influencer style marketing than the accommodation space, with the ability to offer social media superstars travel experiences in new and exotic locations (who could say no?).
So how can your property get involved? There are a few different approaches that hotels can use to take advantage of influencer marketing including free/discounted accommodation, sponsored content and brand partnerships.
The first method, offering free or discounted accommodation is by far the most common. This generally involves offering influencers or social media personalities a few free nights stay at your property, or rooms at a discounted rate, in return for a mention on their channel. This could mean featuring in one of their YouTube videos, or being tagged in a few of their Instagram posts. This is an excellent way to gain exposure and find your way onto consumers travel lists and is a great option if you have some occupancy during slow periods.
The second method, sponsored content, adopts more of a traditional advertising approach. This involves paying an influencer a set amount of money in return for a sponsored post or video on their social media channels. Sponsored content can be less subtle than other forms of influencer marketing, but it does provide more control over how your brand is portrayed and where you direct potential customers. You can brief the influencer on the type of content you want them to publish (taking into consideration it will have to align with their personal aesthetic and brand) , what the caption will be, and any links you want to be included. Prices will likely be based upon the number of followers an influencer has.
Finally, brand partnerships are potentially the most lucrative facet of influencer marketing for accommodation businesses. Many beauty and fashion brands are known for hosting ‘Influencer Trips’, where they bring together the biggest names in their industry to launch a new product or generate buzz about their brand. Being the host property of such trips is a significant opportunity to not only benefit from the revenue of large group bookings, but also feature on the various attendees’ social channels.
Influencer marketing is a unique opportunity to utilise the powerful voices of social media personalities to cut through the haze of marketing and reach audiences in an authentic way. Are we saying you must get on board? Not necessarily, but creating an environment and atmosphere that encourages social sharing at your property should be a consideration.