I’ve had a lot of conversations the past few days with people working in travel marketing, namely destinations and PR firms.

This, in itself, is good news. It comes after a year when an email to a travel marketer was more likely to bounce back with a canned response (out of office indefinitely/ furloughed/ be back in 4 months/ etc) than to hit an inbox or — even less likely — to receive a reply at all.

Though we’re still working from home, out of office, and likely balancing two (if not three or four) jobs on shoestring budgets, there is something that we have in 2021 that we didn’t have in 2020. And that’s hope.

With any luck, vaccines will be more widely available (in developed economies anyway, which is a whole other important conversation) in the next few months, preparing us for a summer of road trips and outdoor adventuring — and dare I suggest even a flight or two.

concrete road near brown mountain under blue sky

The question in many travel marketers’ minds now is how to manage the exciting summer agenda of 2021 with the marketing budget and capacity of 2020.

Just when marketers started to wonder if influencers were more hype than reality, it took us a pandemic to realize that partnering with them strategically is the key to driving tourism dollars where we want them to go.

This is especially true for micro-influencers, or those with audiences of fewer than 100K followers.

Here’s why.

1. Influencers will be the first people willing to travel (and are, already)

When it comes to actually getting out there, influencers are going to be first in line to hop on a plane. In many cases, they’re already doing it. This isn’t just because their entire businesses are built on the constant creation of fresh content — it’s also because they live to travel.

travel influencer at WITS

According to a survey of our creator-focused Facebook group, Women Travel Creators, 71% of surveyed travel creators have already done some sort of travel in 2020, 76% of whom have stuck to local experiences and road trips to mirror their recommendations for their audiences.

Now that travel is truly on the horizon, influencers will be the advance party. They’ll be scoping out what travel is really like so that they can send the right message to their trusting communities.

Micro-influencers, in particular, will be less likely to wait for a sponsored opportunity before getting out there, instead relying on in-kind work or sharing experiences that they’ve paid for anyway.

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2. Micro-influencers will be able to speak honestly about what those travel experiences are like

What WILL travel be like when we get out there?

That’s the #1 question that prospective travelers will have when travel opens up again. What will it look like? Will it actually be safe? Do we even need to take safety precautions anymore?

Woman sitting on a rolling suitcase in an airport wearing a face mask to travel in this new world

Influencers specialize in authentic messaging to their communities. Contrary to some of the debate about the authenticity of influencers, this is the #1 priority of any good influencer — to build authority with their audience through trust.

Influencers are expected to give honest, step-by-step information about experiences, and if they don’t like something, a good influencer will say so.

For those who are looking to dabble in travel again, having a detailed perspective by a personality we trust will be the defining factor in booking a travel experience — and doing so with confidence.

3. Micro-influencers are cheaper and have a stronger ROI than most other marketing options

Let’s face it: In a time when budgets are historically low, micro-influencers are going to give you the best bang for your buck — by far. They have the authenticity and trust of an influencer without requiring the investment of one. And, many times, (due to the law of diminishing returns) their audiences are more engaged simply because they’re smaller.

Their readers are more receptive to their content than a Facebook or Google ad, and if you pick the right influencer, their demographic is more aligned with your target audience than any other platform. 

Profile view of a woman taking photos on her cell phone from high up over a cityscape

Plus, you’re working with people, not machines. Micro-influencers tend to be a little more open to negotiation, accepting a lower payment than usual in exchange for in-kind goods, promotional support, and other items of value that help them grow their business.

If your results don’t turn out the way you expected, you can explore other options. 

If you’re curious about how to use influencer marketing on a tight budget, you’ll love our recent webinar with influencer marketing expert Netanya Trimboli, which you can watch for free in our industry content library.

Related: Influencer Marketing Tips and Insights

So…how to find them?

The good news is, finding a great micro-influencer to work with is easier than ever, and many brands are exploring new partnership opportunities now. 

Companies like Wanderful can partner with you to host a creator campaign, tapping into our community network of 4,000+ content creators and influencers, plus our extensive knowledge about what kinds of campaigns work best.

Or, meet micro-influencers yourself at the upcoming virtual WITS Travel Creator + Brand Summit. The event is well-timed to happen just as travel planning will really begin towards the end of April. 

We’re expecting 1,000 travel content creators and you can meet them through 1:1 virtual meetings, sponsored activations like virtual press trips, and more. And prices are cheaper for this than they’ve ever been because we want to see the travel industry turn around, too.

We may be in lockdown today, but when travel opens, the shift will happen quickly. Micro-influencers will be the key to moving our travel industry forward safely, responsibly, honestly, and inexpensively.

In a year when our travel dreams are big and our budgets are small, strategically partnering with influencers will make all the difference.

Feature image by allPhoto Bangkok from Pixabay

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