Influencer marketing is set to be one of the big trends in travel in 2017, said experts on a panel at the Melt Digital Breakfast.
With online channels such as Youtube on the rise and trust in traditional TV adverts reportedly falling, the panel discussed the growing trend of marketing will bloggers, industry experts or celebrities.
Helena Hall, chief commercial officer at Melt Digital, said: “The world is changing based on our habits.
“Anybody can become an influencer if they are an expert within an industry or particular niche. I do think 2017 is going to see a big rise in influencer marketing. Brands are going to see is as an opportunity.”
Hall said recent research showed that only 53% of people now trust TV advertisements. Meanwhile, she added, 70% of people trust consumer reviews and as many as 90% trust reviews from somebody that they ‘know’.
“Whether it’s someone they hear on a podcast, a Youtube personality they regularly tune into, an innate trust is built. Once brands understand that they can speak to their target audience through somebody who that audience already trusts, they will position their product in front of them.
“Consumers are not seeing the paid element of it. They have that element of trust already with the influencer.”
Victoria Saunders, director of travel at News UK, added: “We use influencers all the time in our campaigns. On the Insider [City Guides] site, we saw a huge rise in traffic when we put Caitlin Moran in New York and put a piece of content out. If we put a piece of content out from Jeremy Clarkson it creates an interest.
“It’s about marrying them up.”
She said a campaign with tourist board Destination Canada and explorer and historian Dan Snow proved popular.
“It’s saying we want to sell the destination, we want you to believe in it but actually this is someone who really believes in it as well.”
But Andrew Shelton, managing director of Cheapflights.com, said raised doubts and said consumers are starting to see through influencers speaking on behalf of brands.
“There are a number of influencers in travel who I think over-sell themselves and you can see they are jumping around from brand to brand. There are many examples.
“We do it, but those influencers can be really hard work sometimes – obviously they are trying to manage their brand as well. We can deal with that, but I’m sceptical on it. You can tell that those who have over-sold themselves don’t really believe it.”
Hall added: “With influencer marketing, the influencers are their brand. So to get it to work right is to take two brands and make sure that they are supporting each other and fit together.”
Melt Digital’s chief executive Dan Hart added that using influencers can kick-start a campaign.
“We’ve seen huge demand [for influencer marketing],” he said.
“There’s a natural point where you’ve created a great piece of content but you don’t know what do to with it.
“Working with an influencer can drive that and bring it to life.”