By Janette Getui
Influencer marketing is more than just a buzzword. It has now become mainstream marketing and is expected to continue being a viable channel for customer acquisition.
Ever heard the statement, “People buy from people”? That’s what makes influencer marketing so powerful. It’s integrating direct human connection and stories with sales. From a hotel’s marketing standpoint, it’s also a smart, cost-effective, and creative way to connect directly with guests, while simultaneously increasing revenue in comparison to normal traditional methods.
An influencer marketer is someone who is an expert in his or her field, strategically sharing insights, advice, and content in a certain way. The audience therefore perceives him or her as a trusted advisor and peer. Hotel owners who hope to leverage influencer marketing need to realize it is becoming a mix-and-match game between macro- and micro-influencers.
For example, it makes sense to see Metallica’s Kirk Hammett promoting Ernie Ball guitar strings because he’s used the product for more than 30 years. So for a guitar enthusiast, not only will they engage with and follow that campaign, they likely will purchase as well. As he shares in his own words the beauty of using that product, based on his years of experience, that story emotionally engages anyone watching. This is what true influencer marketing looks like.
Below, we have outlined three steps owners and operators can take to become micro-influencers of their properties and brands, while taking into consideration the role macro-influencers play.
You can tell your brand’s story better than any outsider celebrity.
Go narrow and target a specific audience you feel resonates with your brand mission, vision, and the type of guest you’d love to host. Telling your brand’s story is something you already naturally do because you are at the heart of it all.
If you choose to establish yourself as a thought leader and influencer for your hotel, the knowledge you have, as well as the details, unique, eye-catching elements, and culture of your organization already are imbued in you, making your content feel authentic and emotionally engaging.
Your experience, skills, and passion give you instant credibility, quickly increasing brand exposure and direct bookings.
Brand exposure and credibility are important as travelers shift into the world of digital purchasing. Lifestyle travelers-turned-influencer marketers have a huge advantage when they come from a hospitality background. All you have to do is look around Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn, and you’ll find hospitality professionals who either retired or quit their jobs to become social media influencers.
Because they possess the skills, credibility, and title tag of “hospitality expert,” they draw more attention and set themselves apart from the sea of social celebrities. You don’t have to wait until retirement to start sharing your advice, travel tips, and industry insights. The crowd already is pumped up and eager to learn more about your travel destination, local attractions, property, and other musings.
By positioning yourself as a micro-influencer for your brand, you’re approaching this with a long-term view, which will end in better ROI.
Many smaller hotels don’t have enough revenue to hire several online celebrities to become brand evangelists over an indefinite period of time. Most influencer marketing campaigns are one-time events. And even then, it only happens across one channel with one big influencer.
Picture this instead:
Run a campaign with a macro-influencer across one social platform while you simultaneously run the same campaign leveraging the online presence you’ve acquired as a thought leader in the hospitality industry, over the past two years.
The end result will be a greater reach. Not only will you foster greater loyalty among your current devotees, you’ll create a positive, lasting impression that will exponentially increase your fan base.
A few years down the line, your hotel will not be dependent on social celebrities to stand out online. Your property will thrive and enjoy a more organic growth because of the foundational work you did in these early days to set yourself up for long-term success.