The high impact of influencers on travelers is already a known fact, but when it comes to travel bloggers, it seems like there’s still some confusion about how to incorporate them into the organization’s marketing strategy.
During 2019, the Israeli Travel Bloggers community reached out to people in the travel industry, to discuss the pain points, solutions and best practices for collaborations between travel bloggers and tourism boards or service providers from the industry.
This website is one of the outcomes of our research, and the following are some of our insights from the past year.
Sorry, original content only
Travel bloggers create original content on their independent platforms. They share personal experiences and practical information, as a friend would do if you’d asked them about your next trip. This is the main reason travelers prefer to get their information from an independent blogger, rather than from a commercial website.
In a talk I gave at a travel conference held at the University of Haifa I was asked by one of the Israeli PR organizations in the audience, if travel bloggers would publish their press releases.
My answer was that while the travel blogger you collaborate with should definitely keep your agenda and narrative in the back of their heads, the best practice would be to let bloggers do what makes the public read and trust them, which is to create original, personal and noncommercial content.
Travel bloggers meet YOUR customers at the cashier
A great portion of the readers of well-established travel blogs is looking for information about a vacation they are about to order. It means that if you’re in the travel business, travel bloggers probably meet your customers just as they are about to make a purchase decision.
For example, I can assure you that nobody reads my detailed guide for planning a trip to Japan, unless they are planning their own trip right now, and need some help.
If you’re an airline, tourism board or a service provider in the industry, having a relevant blogger talk about you at this critical moment of the buyer’s journey, could make a great deal of a difference for you.
Evergreen content – Get yourself a brand ambassador
Unlike social networks such as Instagram or Facebook, independent blog content has a long shelf life with the potential of becoming evergreen content, that keeps appearing on Google’s first result page for years.
It means that working with a good blogger that matches your organization’s DNA, might become a long term investment, as opposed to content on Instagram or Facebook, which is more suitable for short term brand awareness campaigns.
Bloggers want their collaboration to succeed and their high-quality content to stay relevant and popular for years. If you have a good partnership with your blogger, you can not only get a good blog post, but also a long term low-maintenance brand ambassador.
The one questions you ask your travel blogger might be the wrong one
It doesn’t matter if you are trying to reach younger travelers, families with children or LGBT solo travelers. Every traveler searches on Google for high-quality information, that speaks their language, answers their questions about the vacation they’re about to take, and shares personal experiences with them, as a friend would do.
If your audience finds high-quality information on a blog – they will read it and Google will rank it higher for future readers. Your audience doesn’t check the number of followers a blogger has on Instagram before consuming great content, and neither should you.
Instead of focusing on the number of followers a blogger has on other platforms, ask the blogger what search-terms they are highly ranked for on Google and if you can make use of these pages, to advertise your business. You should also ask bloggers if they can create good content about your destination or service, that would be as successful on Google as other pages on their blog.
How to choose the right blogger for you?
Choosing a blogger is part of the business marketing strategy, so you should take into account your business goals, target audience, and brand values.
Fortunately enough, the blog portfolio is at your disposal, you can just look at the blogger’s website, read their posts, and learn about previous collaborations before making a decision.
Once you’ve identified the blogger that fits your business’ DNA, talk to them, share your goals and ideas and listen to theirs – the collaboration options are endless.
What kind of collaborations are there anyway?
In a conference for Booking.com partners this year, I was asked about the different types of collaborations travel bloggers offer.
Some bloggers plan to reach your destination anyway, and a little help on your side with a tour guide or a free entrance to an attraction will help you get more from them.
Other bloggers already have strong popular pages related to your destination or services. These can be a great platform for you to advertise your service or destination.
Fam. trips give bloggers a complimentary trip in return for their content. Some bloggers might charge a commission for this service. One of the benefits of paying a blogger for their work is that the paying party becomes a client, which gives them the option to get more control over what is being published, where and when.
There are so many more options for collaborations with a travel blogger, such as guest posts, webinars, or publishing content on magazines the blogger (or you) may be connected to. Travel bloggers would take any opportunity to publish articles in online and print magazines for destinations they had collaborated with – I know I did, for destinations such as Uzbekistan, Vilnius, and Rotterdam.
How to get the most out of your collaboration?
Collaborating should be treated like any other deal your business does. The parties should discuss their expectations, deliverables, schedule, and what-ifs, and put them down in writing.
Other than that, remember you hired a blogger because you thought they did a great job, so it would be best to let the blogger do what they do best: create high-quality noncommercial content that is based on their personal experience and fits their (and your) audience like a glove.
Incorporating travel bloggers in your 2020 influencer marketing strategy
I hope this article sheds some light on the role travel bloggers play in the industry nowadays.
Well established bloggers publish high-quality original posts with their personal experiences, that may become evergreen content on Google. Bloggers meet travelers as they are making travel-related purchase decisions. This strategic point on the buyer’s journey can be very useful for businesses in the industry.
For a collaboration to succeed, tourism boards and service providers are advised to find the travel blog that best matches their goals and target audience and discuss the collaboration terms with the blogger.
A partnership with a travel blogger can go way beyond a blog post. When a real partnership has been established, you may also get a long-term low maintenance brand ambassador.
About the author: Ofer Keidar is a travel photographer and blogger from Tel-Aviv. Feel free to drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org | Photos on this post by Ofer Keidar (it is a post about original content and personal experiences after all).