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The COVID-19 pandemic has left the travel influencer market in shambles after the closing of country borders and the bans on travel, but in light of recent events, countries have begun to reopen borders, lift restrictions on travel, and even lift mask mandates in a few countries. So what does this mean for post pandemic travel in 2021? Post pandemic travel is now being considered amongst Americans. According to U.S Travel, as of July 1st, more than two-thirds of American adults are content with returning to their pre-COVID lifestyles while 62 percent now feel comfortable taking a vacation.
Likewise, business travel has been on the rise. At least 55 percent of U.S companies aren’t currently allowing travel plans to resume business in the upcoming months.
According to Forbes, as of January, nearly 70 percent of visitors searching hotels on Tripadvisor were planning future trips between May and August. Marco Corradino, the CEO of the popular booking website lastminute.com, reported a 200 percent increase in bookings leaving within a week in comparison to 2020.
With the traveling bounce back, it’s an excellent idea to examine the definition of travel influencers and how they impact the brands and companies they promote.
What are Travel Influencers?
According to Sideqik, studies have expressed that Millennials and Gen Z are passionate about travel rather than reaching traditional financial milestones. In comparison to previous generations, it’s no surprise that the younger folks crave once-in-a-lifetime experiences into new territory.
Travel influencers usually are the ones who wake up one day with their heart yearning for adventure and are often driven by tourism. These influencers wish to travel to post their videos, photos, and experiences on social media. Others may travel to promote their personal brand and gain exposure.
Influencers wish to connect their audience with their experiences and encourage them to venture to the same locations they traveled to. Influencers are powerful resources for travel agencies and businesses that seek more exposure.
Brands like Revolve, Benefit, and Boohoo (popular fashion companies) have chosen a handful of influencers to receive an opportunity to go on luxury vacations and post about their experiences on social media. Sideqik also states that these brands “propelled their social campaigns into new territories.”
Travel influencers possess powerful voices that attract newer generations to the location they traveled to. Travelmindset states that 63 percent of consumers trust influencer messages more than advertisements and messages that come from the brands they promote.
Now that travel is slowly returning to its pre-pandemic days, let’s analyze how influencer marketing survived throughout the pandemic with limited travel.
Want to know the traveling industry utilized influencers during 2020? Check out this blog post.
Influencer Marketing During the Pandemic
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, most influencers had to resort to changing up their strategies in order to make ends meet.
Alvaro Rojas, a 29-year-old who has visited every country in the world, says that he learned that “you can’t put all your eggs in one basket.” According to USA Today, Rojas published his book Stories: From My Travels to Every Country in the World during the pandemic and prevented a catastrophic financial collapse.
Although Rojas was unable to travel, for the most part, he managed to capture the essence of his experiences with his book. Wanderreds says that this book talks about Rojas’s detention sentence in Afghanistan, almost drowning in Zanzibar, sneaking into restricted war zones, and nearly getting run over by a car in Congo.
Rojas also admits that during the pandemic, he was still traveling – usually off-the-map locations, smaller towns, countries with fewer travel restrictions – and going outdoors to post content on his social media. However, Rojas’s travel during the pandemic, along with other influencers, has led to influencer backlash on social media.
Similar to Rojas, Kathrine Heckmann, a traveling influencer with 26.2k followers on her Instagram, spent most of her time during the pandemic exploring gorgeous landscapes by hiking or riding her bike. According to DW, Kathrine states that “many people simply don’t know the impact of walking cross-country through a nature reserve.”
During the pandemic, Heckmann spent her time visiting nature reserves like Kruger National Park in Africa and traveling along Bernina Massif located in the mountain range in eastern Switzerland and northern Italy all while remaining socially distanced.
DW continues by saying that Heckmann criticizes influencers that destroy the environment for the sake of social media popularity. She admits that there are influencers that educate others on the importance of preserving the environment; Heckmann herself advocates for preserving the environment, especially when traveling.
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Catarina Mello is a 30-year-old professional traveler who has about 334k followers on Instagram. When the pandemic struck, Mello with stuck between a rock and hard place, but she refused to wallow in grief for her struggling job.
Although the lockdown burdened traveling influencers, trends such as the demand for online courses and connections and the transition of retail to e-commerce gave Mallow business. Mallo began to do online courses for people interested in growing their businesses and social media.
Short videos gained popularity during the pandemic, and this resulted in Mello’s course revolving around creating videos. According to Mello’s website, her master course guarantees some of these benefits:
- Grow a business that gives you a sense of purpose
- Understand how algorithms work
- Stay in luxury hotels as a part of your job
- Help to get over camera anxiety by streaming on Instagram
- Receive multiple paid campaign emails from brands
Curious about the digital marketing solutions used during the pandemic? Check on this blog for a rundown.
The Future of Influencer Marketing
You may be wondering how a marketing influencing will be now with post pandemic travel at the forefront of our future. Pixlee states that In 2020, the travel industry lost about 1.3 trillion dollars in export revenue.
The aftermath of the pandemic resulted in the loss of over 100 million jobs in the travel industry alone while passenger revenue fell to about 55 percent of the revenue collected in 2019.
The influencer market won’t bounce back to pre-pandemic for quite a while but there are ways to effectively transition back into a normal way of travel marketing. According to OpenInfluence, post pandemic recovery can be split up into three distinct categories: emotion, behavior, and shopping behavior.
As we enter the road of recovery, optimism floods the minds of travel influencers. Though, it’s important to note that the marketing strategies influencers used during the pandemic will continue to stick and become an effective form of marketing.
Reestablish Trust for Worldwide Travel
Post pandemic travel will never successfully bounce back unless brands and marketers establish trust. During the crisis, terror and sadness plagued the minds of travelers; in order to combat these emotions, changing cleaning protocols and revamping the mission statements of brands will encourage travelers to book stays.
Companies like The Fairmont Hotels have begun showcasing the cleanliness of hotels and the opportunities travelers have to safely socially distance themselves. When combined with cheerful hospitality, consumer trust and worldwide travel will eventually return.
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Plan Short and Local Vacations
Although travel restrictions have begun to lift and consumer confidence is being restored, the idea of local vacations is still prevalent. Not only will this allow travel influencers to support local business brands, but it will also help slowly transition back into domestic travel.
According to Vamp Brands, 47 percent of people are interested in traveling in their own country while another 43 percent want to explore a new location within their country. Travel influencers can turn the tide for a struggling local business by posting user-generated content on social media.
The pandemic has helped tourists find greatness in their own backyard and local areas, so these practices should become normalized even after the traveling industry successfully recovers – of course, whenever that is.
Encourage More Environmentally Friendly Travel
Influencers like Kathrine Heckmann are already one step ahead of the game as she encourages the use of environmentally friendly travel and awareness of the state of the ecosystem. According to Vamp Brands “53 percent are also willing to reduce their waste and recycle their plastic.”
Influencers were the catalyst of many COVID-19 awareness trends. Check out Charli D’amelio’s #distancedance fundraiser here.
Vanlife influencers have been increasingly popular throughout the pandemic and continue to grow even after the reopening of countries. On Instagram, hashtags like #Vanlife, #Vanlifers, and #VanlifeDiaries have contributed to millions of posts dedicated to the vanlife movement.
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AlwaystheAdventure recognizes a few reasons why vanlife is more eco-friendly than other alternatives forms of travel (although it is important to note that there are still some environmental setbacks to vanlife like carbon emissions).
- Vanlifers are more conscious consumers as over-consumption is one of the leading causes of climate change.
- Public land stewardship encourages vanlifers to clean up campsites and parks.
- Vanlifers rely heavily on solar panel energy.
- Vanlifers learn to not waste water or other valuable resources.
Wrapping Things Up
We can all agree that the pandemic has left influencers and companies in disarray, but post pandemic travel has brought new forms of travel and awareness to brands and influencers.
It’s always smart to be mindful of the shift from pandemic to post pandemic traveling whether you’re a wannabe influencer or a casual tourist looking for new places to explore, so hopefully, this article provided you with some valuable information.