For a number of years travel companies have been running blog trips in which they have invited travel bloggers to stay at their hotel or resort to write about their experiences. Generally these brands would aim to select bloggers with a certain level of popularity and readership, in order to maximise the return on investment of these trips. Sometimes these were paid blog trips, but in other cases the blogger would be compensated with accommodation, food and transport to and from the destination.

The benefit to both travel bloggers and resorts/hotels is clear. Generally travel bloggers love to travel, so these kind of trips offer them a way to travel to amazing destinations in return for writing blog posts. While these trips are not always financially compensated, they generally don’t cost the blogger anything except for their time. There is also the added benefit for a travel blogger as it gives them excellent new material for their blog, thus increasing their readership.

As resorts and hotels started to switch to more effective inbound marketing rather than less effective and outdated outbound marketing, these blog trips became increasingly popular. By inviting popular travel bloggers to stay in their accommodation and try out different experiences on offer in the local area, the bloggers then wrote a number of blog posts during their stay. These posts retain their value long after the blogger has left as they continue to be read online for weeks, months or even years later, creating lasting online advertising.

As well as the text these posts often contain interesting photos and engaging videos thus adding even more value to them. The more engaging, interesting and useful the post is, the greater chance there is the reader will want to share it with their friends, family and social media connections. These posts help to draw readers into the idea of experiencing a stay at a hotel or resort and trying the excursions offered. Depending on the popularity of the blogger in question, the potential advertising generated for the travel brand can be massive with a strong possibility of increased click-throughs to their website and more bookings.

While blog trips are still very popular and effective, your timeshare resort or hotel should also definitely consider working with various other influencers. With the massive growth in different social media sites and apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube there are some individuals that have become true social media stars. In fact among those in their teens and twenties, many of the most well known YouTube and Instagram stars are more popular than TV and movie stars.

While blogs remain massively popular with some of the biggest having huge readerships which rival traditional magazines and newspapers, your timeshare resort should definitely not limit itself to working with bloggers. There are many people who don’t read blogs, but they do use social media sites and apps daily. For example, for travel inspiration in the past, many would have gone and bought a travel magazine, but now they just have to login to Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest and they can find literally billions of travel images to give them ideas of where to go.

The same thing has happened with television. Whereas in the past people may have switched on a travel channel or tv show about travel to give them some inspiration, now they are far more likely to head to YouTube. If you think YouTube is just for younger internet users then you are behind the times as it now has over a billion users which is almost a third of all people online. In addition to this “YouTube overall, and even YouTube on mobile alone, reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S.”  

Some of the most popular Travel vloggers on YouTube such as Mr Ben Brown or Fun For Louis regularly get over 100,000 views on their videos which they upload on a daily or weekly basis! Both Ben and Louis also have significant followings on Instagram, Twitter and other social networks such as Tumblr. While Ben has written the odd blog post, neither of them would be considered travel bloggers, but they are definitely both travel influencers. With their videos, photos and social media posts they and many other influencers like them have inspired many people to travel to the destinations that they have visited.

With so much content being added online it may sometimes seem difficult for your timeshare resort to stand out among all this digital noise. How can your resort possibly hope to compete with all the other hotels and resorts adding content? One of the best ways for your resort to stand out is to invite an influencer with a significant presence online to come and stay. While your resort can still work with bloggers, the influencers you invite don’t necessarily need their own blog. Even better though is if they are influential on several platforms such as a YouTuber or blogger with a large following on other social media platforms like Instagram or Twitter.

While influencers like Mr Ben Brown or Fun For Louis who have millions of fans across a variety of platforms may be out of the budget of your resort, you should still definitely factor in an influencer trip this year. There are thousands of influencers with smaller but highly engaged followings. Their fans want to see what they are up to on a daily basis and trust what they say, much more so than your own brand advertising. If you invite one of these influencers with a smaller but still significant online following to your resort, the online ripple effect can still be huge.

When their fans see them having a great time by your resort pool, enjoying a delicious meal or taking part in an exciting excursion this will inspire many of them to check out your website and possibly book a trip. Alternatively if it is a younger person they may then show their parents or grandparents the photos, videos and posts of your resort and destination from the influencer you have chosen.

One recent example of a successful influencer trip was when Hedi Pavelcova and Mark Fountain visited RDO member resort Pearly Grey Ocean Club in Tenerife. Hedi is a clean eating, health food and fitness enthusiast with an award winning food blog called Hedi Hearts. On her blog she regularly posts amazing vegan and vegetarian recipes and meal plans to help people eat delicious and healthy food. She works with a number of brands and also has a significant social media following. This includes her Facebook page which has over 152,000 Likes, Instagram account with over 6,650 followers and over 3,400 followers on Pinterest!  Mark is a successful international filmmaker and photographer who has worked with a variety of different brands including Pearly Grey Ocean Club and other hotels and resorts. In addition to his films and photos he has a growing influence on social media including his Facebook page, Instagram account and YouTube channel.

Originally Hedi and Mark were asked to help film promotional video for Pearly Grey which would contrast a regular day in the UK side by side with a wonderful holiday in Tenerife. As part of this process Hedi and Mark went to stay at the resort. Mark had already been to Pearly Grey and loves it, but this was Hedi’s first time there and she was extremely impressed. The video itself had a great impact across social media, including over 12,000 views on Facebook!

In addition to this successful video, Mark and Hedi also posted extensively to their various social media channels such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook which further advertised Pearly Grey. As well as this, John Beckley, the marketing manager at the resort helped to arrange some excursions for Mark and Hedi including a trip to the famous Siam Park to show some of the outside activities that guests can enjoy in Tenerife.

@hedihearts & @fountainfotos_ day out at @siampark #incostadeje #tenerife #canaryislands #siampark #

Un vídeo publicado por Pearly Grey Ocean Club (@pearlygreyoceanclub) el

Another idea that was integrated into the trip was to shoot a series of mini videos in which Hedi learnt how to make different traditional Canarian food by Pearly Grey master chef Daryl. These videos were perfect for sharing on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube and give a great taste of some of the food that guests can enjoy at the resort.

Overall, Mark and Hedi’s time at Pearly Grey was an excellent example of an influencer trip that your timeshare resort should aim to arrange this year. The initial idea of creating a promotional video for the resort was successful in itself, but the added photos, videos and social media posts from Mark, Hedi and the Pearly Grey team really helped to elevate the effectiveness of the trip. One important aspect of selecting Mark and Hedi for this trip is that they both enjoy travelling and were already very enthusiastic about the idea of staying at the resort and promoting it as much as possible.

It is important to select influencers that fit into your brand ethos and have a aligned interests and social media presence. For example it wouldn’t be advisable to select a gaming YouTuber as someone to come and promote your resort no matter how many subscribers they have. The interests of their subscribers and what your resort offers would not be in alignment and would have little benefit for your resort if they came to stay. Also beware so-called influencers who have large social media followings but little engagement on their social media posts. This is an indication that they may have paid for Likes or followers. Some people may even try to get themselves a free holiday with you, with no intention of helping to promote your resort.

Do not let this put you off an influencer trip though, you just need to do some research beforehand. When you select the right influencers, they will help create some amazing promotion for your resort and are also quite likely become fans for life! In fact, Mark and Hedi have been invited back to Pearly Grey in February. A successful influencer trip is one of the best forms of advertising your resort can have with the potential to reach a global audience.

Let us know in the comment section below or via our social media using #RDOdigital if your timeshare resort is planning an influencer trip this year.