Hospitality Influencer Marketing: Building Authentic Partnerships for Wider Reach

November 28, 2023

Over the last decade, influencer marketing has grown into an indispensable aspect of B2C digital marketing. For the hotel industry in particular, social media plays a significant role in attracting direct bookings and expanding brand awareness with potential guests. 

Two significant groups of travelers, Millennials and Gen Z, are increasingly important customer segments for the hospitality industry. Known for their social media savvy, the impact of Millennial and Gen Z travelers cannot be understated: 

  • Millennials travel more than any other generation, averaging 35 days per year
  • Millennials spent $200 billion on travel in 2018
  • 43% of Gen Z list travel as their top priority 

As digital natives, Millennials and Gen Z rely on social media platforms for travel research – 46% of Millennials have traveled to explore a destination they’ve seen on Instagram. This reliance on social media as a source of travel inspiration has catapulted influencer marketing into the forefront of hotel marketing strategies.

Travel influencers possess the unique ability to bridge the gap between branded content and real-world adventures, offering a glimpse into the extraordinary experiences that await potential guests.

That being said, how do you ensure your influencer marketing campaign is a success? Today, we’ll review exactly how to find the right influencer for your hotel, best practices for building your campaign, and how to measure your success. 

Benefits of influencer marketing for hotels

  • Direct Bookings: Influencers call attention to your social media pages, which will have direct links to your website and booking pages. 
  • Increased Visibility: Influencers have a dedicated and engaged following, and partnering with them can increase your hotel’s visibility among their audience.
  • Significant ROI: Influencer marketing delivers an ROI of as high as $6.50 for every $1 spent, according to a survey of marketers by Tomoson. 
  • Trust and Credibility: According to polls by Edelman, 63% of consumers aged 18-34 trust influencer content more than branded advertisements.  
  • Authenticity & Social Proof: Authenticity is the driving force behind the power of social proof. Influencer marketing leverages both, with the influencer lending their unique voice and personality to your hotel
  • Targeted Audience: Many influencers work within a specific niche, allowing you to choose influencers whose followers match your target demographic, ensuring that your message reaches the right people.

What is the Cost of Working with an Influencer?

The cost of working with an influencer varies widely based on several key factors. These include the influencer’s category, their follower count, niche expertise, and the specific scope of the collaboration. In essence, the cost can be broken down into the following components:

  • Influencer Category: Influencers are typically categorized into Nano (1-10k followers), Micro (10k – 100k followers), Macro (100k – 1 million followers), and Mega/Celebrity (over 1 million followers). Generally, the higher the influencer’s followers, the higher their fee.
  • Niche Expertise: Influencers with expertise in a specific niche or industry may charge more for their in-depth knowledge and ability to reach a highly targeted audience. For example, many hotel influencers have a specific niche, such as budget travel, luxury resorts, or family vacations.
  • Content Creation: The complexity of content creation, including video production or high-quality photography, can impact costs. For instance, asking an influencer to produce multiple TikTok videos may be more expensive than static posts on Instagram. 
  • Duration and Scope: The length and depth of the collaboration also affect cost. A single post may cost less than a long-term partnership with multiple content pieces. How you plan to use the content (paid ads vs. organic) will also impact the total cost. 

If you’re planning to use influencer marketing to your benefit, it’s necessary to set realistic expectations for your influencer collaboration. Before you reach out to an influencer for a potential partnership, align your internal teams and set clear marketing budgets, goals and expectations. 

Leveraging Niche and Smaller Influencers

You do not need to hire the influencer with the most followers in order for your campaign to be successful. In fact, an influencer with a smaller, niche audience may provide better results than the celebrity influencer with millions of followers. 

While it may be counterintuitive, nano influencers and micro-influencers often deliver a better ROI than larger influencers. This is due to several notable factors:

  • Influencers with a smaller, niche audience often deliver higher engagement rates due to their more intimate and relatable relationship with viewers. 
  • The average engagement rate of micro-influencers on Instagram is 3.86%, whereas celebrity influencers sit at 1.21%.
  • Micro and nano-influencers typically charge lower fees or may even collaborate in exchange for products or experiences. 
  • Their smaller, more intimate followings are often made up of individuals who closely match your target demographic.

What to Look for When Hiring an Influencer

While micro and nano influencers provide niche benefits, in some cases, macro and mega influencers can be highly effective, especially when aiming for massive brand exposure. To determine the right fit for your campaign, consider these rule of thumb factors when hiring an influencer:

  • Alignment with Brand Values: Ensure the influencer’s personal brand and values align with your hotel’s image and message.
  • Audience Relevance: Look for influencers whose followers match your target demographic, regardless of their follower count.
  • Engagement Rates: Analyze an influencer’s engagement rates to assess their ability to connect with their audience.
  • Content Quality: Evaluate the quality and authenticity of an influencer’s content.
  • Budget: Consider your budget and the cost-effectiveness of the influencer partnership.
  • Campaign Goals: Assess how well the influencer can help you achieve your specific campaign goals, whether it’s boosting direct bookings or increasing brand awareness.

Selecting the right influencer should align with your campaign objectives and your target audience’s preferences, whether they have millions of followers or just a few thousand.

Best Practices for an Influencer Campaign 

  1. Identify Goals and Objectives

Clearly define the goals of your influencer marketing campaign. Are you aiming to boost direct bookings, increase brand awareness, or showcase a specific aspect of your hotel? Having a well-defined purpose will guide your campaign strategy.

  1. Find the Right Influencer 

Carefully select social media influencers whose values, audience, and content align with both your brand values and marketing goals. Analyze factors like engagement rates, audience demographics, and content alignment. 

Consider the case of the Ritz-Carlton and their strategic approach to influencer marketing. Their objective was to extend their brand’s reach to a diverse range of audiences. To achieve this, they engaged in partnerships with different influencers. Among them were micro-influencer Chris Aznar, a photographer, and mega-influencer Jack Morris, renowned for his global travel adventures showcased on Instagram.

  1. Align on Expectations and Guidelines

Create a comprehensive creative brief that outlines campaign goals, expectations, deliverables, timeline, and brand messaging. Allow influencers creative freedom, but provide guidelines to maintain alignment with your hotel’s image.

Influencers will bring their own voice and creativity to the project, but it’s important to provide them with the guiding materials to avoid tedious reshoots, edits, and other issues which can derail your timeline or sour the relationship between your marketing team and the influencer.

Caption: Example template of an influencer creative brief, created by Notion

  1. Monitor and Engage 

Stay actively engaged with influencers throughout the campaign. Encourage authentic storytelling, respond to comments, and track performance metrics to ensure the campaign stays on course.

How to Measure the Success of an Influencer Campaign 

Comprehensive analysis of performance metrics provides a clear picture of your influencer campaign’s effectiveness. The combination of quantitative and qualitative data ensures you can fine-tune future campaigns and optimize your hotel’s influencer marketing strategy.

1. Engagement

Engagement is a fundamental metric for assessing the effectiveness of your influencer campaign. It includes likes, comments, shares, and other interactions with the content. High engagement signifies that the influencer’s content has resonated with the audience. Analyzing the type and depth of engagement can provide valuable insights into which aspects of the campaign are performing well and which may need adjustment.

2. Reach and Impressions

Reach measures how many unique individuals have seen the influencer’s content. Impressions, on the other hand, represent the total number of times the content has been viewed. These metrics provide an understanding of your campaign’s visibility. A high reach and a substantial number of impressions indicate that your campaign is effectively spreading your message to a wide audience.

3. Website Traffic

Analyzing website traffic originating from the influencer’s content is a critical aspect of measuring success. Tools like Google Analytics can help you monitor the increase in visitors to your site as a direct result of the influencer’s posts. Elevated website traffic demonstrates that the campaign is effectively driving potential customers to explore your offerings.

4. Sales and Direct Bookings

The ultimate goal of an influencer campaign is often to boost sales and direct bookings. Monitoring the number of bookings and revenue generated during the campaign is a direct indicator of its financial impact. Tracking these figures allows you to assess the campaign’s effectiveness in converting influencer-driven interest into tangible business results.

5. Surveys

Gathering feedback and insights from the audience through surveys can offer qualitative data that complements quantitative metrics. Surveys can help you understand the audience’s perceptions, preferences, and the impact of the influencer content on their decision-making process. This feedback can be invaluable for refining your future influencer campaigns.

Start Influencing Your Direct Bookings!

Influencer marketing has become a pivotal strategy for hotels in 2023, particularly in engaging with the influential Millennial and Gen Z demographics and driving direct bookings. These digital-savvy generations, known for their frequent travels, turn to social media for travel inspiration. Influencer marketing has, therefore, taken a central role in the hospitality industry’s marketing efforts.

Whether collaborating with nano, micro, or macro-influencers, the advantages are clear. They range from boosting direct bookings and increasing visibility to delivering a substantial return on investment, all while infusing authenticity, trust, and social proof into your hotel’s brand.