Changes in influencer marketing and the growing importance of micro-influencers in the hospitality industry

Changes in influencer marketing and the growing importance of micro-influencers in the hospitality industry

Undisputedly influencers can tap into the right kind of audience and offer brand awareness – in industries from consumer goods to services and hotels and restaurants. Whereas most hospitality businesses acknowledge the benefit of working with Instagrammers or YouTubers, namely allowing hotels and restaurants to directly market to new audiences in a more personal way, the countless request of self-described Instagram stars for all-inclusive vacations in exchange for some social media posts has pushed some businesses to drastic measures.
With Instagram having now more than 1 Million Monthly Advertisers and 8 million business profiles, it has become one of the most significant platforms for influencer marketing for the last year. Statistics show that 78% of influencers prefer Instagram for brand collaboration. 7 out of 10 hashtags on Instagram are branded. Instagram influencers are charging up to $100,000 for a sponsored post.

These are only some of the facts to begin with, that show the great influence Instagram branded content has and why many influencers believe in their own celebrity status.

Recent researches show a different side of the story – while not so long ago hotels and restaurants have acknowledged the importance of influencers for boosting brand awareness in the hospitality industry, more and more brands are now having second thoughts about it – 76% of marketers are struggling to determine the return of investment in influencer marketing.
This shift is related mainly to the change of the consumer attitude towards influencers and their credibility – Instagram has now roughly 1 billion users and many of them use it as a source of travel inspiration. This results in a vast number of influencers, who can impact the holiday decision making of customers.

Although very popular, they don`t have an image of a credible source for travel information due to loss of “realness” – according to a study by travel technology company Amadeus, millennials ranked influencers right at the bottom on the scale of sources, that impact their travel plans.

The loss of credibility of social influencers is starting to show off – a luxury hotel in Dublin recently banned all social media influencers, after a public hassle with a YouTube vlogger requesting a free stay. Other hotel brands made it harder for influencers to request freebies – e.g. they requested filling out an obligatory detailed application form before their request is even considered.
Following the shifts in the way influencer marketing works, some experts in the area started to offer more than just social media exposure, such as short videos for the website or image banks. This enables hoteliers to save money on professional photographers or camera crew by hiring an influencer instead.
Others went the extra mile and offer now much more – hosting boot camps for hotel social media teams, where employees are trained on things like Facebook ads and Instagram promotion.
As a result of all abovementioned shifts, the trend of rise of micro-influencers doesn’t come as a surprise.

The rise of micro-influencers and how brands can use them
Micro-influencers have far fewer followers than celebrities – the number varies between 5000 to 50,000. It is a relatively small audience, however far more engaged due to the niche focus. Micro-influencers are everyday people who follow their interests, post on regular basis and have gained their followers thanks to their authenticity and everyday presence.
As according to recent studies a large number of followers doesn’t mean successful engagement anymore, brands started noticing micro-influencers as new type of ambassadors that can bring them closer to their consumers. Plus, they offer 60 per cent higher levels of engagement and are 6.7 times more cost-effective per engagement compared to macro influencers, who charge thousands for a single post
There are many reasons for brands to consider working with micro-influencers in their next campaigns:

Although smaller brands see the value of working with micro-influencers, due to lower cost and higher authenticity, bigger brands like the Ritz or ASOS also has started using them in their marketing campaigns. What does this mean for the hospitality industry? Micro influencers will actually attract more customers from the same target group and will convert in clients, that would like to check their business out.  It will also cut down lost revenue to online travel agencies, as influencers drive potential guests to the hotel’s website using hashtags, causing them to book directly. The increased profitability by the opportunity to cross-sell or upsell is also part of the deal, but most important is the increased loyalty and retention.

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