Micro-Influencer Marketing for Tour Operators | Orioly

Growing Your Brand on a Budget: Micro-Influencer Marketing for Tour Operators

Many travel and tour entrepreneurs have the idea that working with influencers is something only big operators and DMOs can afford.

Hence, they focus their marketing efforts mainly on social media, search engine optimization, and, when there is enough budget, on platforms such as Google and Facebook Ads.

However, despite being popular, these channels also have downsides:

  • Social media relies on an engaged audience to give you results.
  • SEO needs a good amount of time to generate consistent traffic to your website.
  • PPC has a high cost and can be frustrating if you don’t have enough technical knowledge to run paid ads.

So, how to boost your marketing efforts for better results?

You can work with micro-influencers.

In this article, we will show you that even small tour operators can work with influencers. The results and costs of doing so are better than you imagine.

What is a micro-influencer?

I am sure that at least once in your life you considered buying a product a celebrity announced on their social media.

Did you know that profiles with millions of followers could receive more than the average American annual wage for just a single sponsored post?!

That’s definitely a lot, and most brands can’t afford this kind of promotion.

That’s where micro-influencers come in. These are accounts with way fewer followers, less than 25,000, but with intensely engaged audiences.

Working with micro-influencers is way more affordable than hiring a celebrity. Furthermore, there is a chance they will accept make a publication in exchange for a free tour.

Partnering with these professionals might give you the extra push you were looking for in your social media marketing strategy.

Why you should use micro-influencers in your marketing strategy?

Brands form partnerships with influencers to reach a larger audience than they would normally do with their own accounts.

Also, customers are more likely to buy a product or service recommended by someone they know and trust. This is word-of-mouth marketing and is a strong social proof for their partner brands.

Organizations use this to leverage the established trust amongst the influencer’s audience, which results in more sales.

Research by Expertvoice found out that micro-influencers have 22.2 times more conversations than the typical Instagram users.

Mostly because they’re passionate and knowledgeable about their particular interest area.

Influencer vs. Micro-Influencer

The price isn’t the only difference between big influencers and micro-influencers.

Unlike celebrities, micro-influencers are regular people with deep knowledge and passion for their area.

Thereby, they talk to a niche audience who sees them as a trusted source when it comes to recommendations for what to buy.

Micro-influencers are open and accessible to reply to comments. Because of that, many of their followers see them as a friend.

According to Expertvoice, over 82% of surveyed consumers said they were likely to buy something a micro-influencer recommended.

Micro-influencers are a better investment even for big brands

Another study conducted by Markely analyzed how micro-influencer audiences are engaged compared to celebrity influencers.

With this research, they discovered that as an influencer’s number of followers increases, their number of likes and comments from followers decreases.

In other words, the more followers an account has the less engaged its audience is.

image representing the like follower correlation
image representing the comment follower correlation

According to the study, micro-influencers with Instagram followings in the 1,000–10,000 range are the ones that give the best return on investment.

According to the study, a brand investing in a celebrity could generate way more engagement by hiring dozens of micro-influencers instead.

How micro-influencers can boost travel marketing?

As previously discussed on this blog, visual material is one of the best advertisement formats in travel. Especially during the dream phase of the travel journey.

According to Facebook, 67% of travel enthusiasts use Instagram to find inspiration for where to go next.

Another UK study found that 40% of millennials reportedly prioritize ‘Instagrammability’ when choosing a destination.

Sum that to the fact micro-influencers have hyper-engaged audiences, and you come up with a good formula to drive more bookings to your business.

Fortunately, travel is a niche full of micro-influencers, and the average price per post on Instagram is among the cheapest compared to other industries.

The website Influence.co shared a graph with the average price range influencers are charging across the platform for a single publication. For travel, most influencers charge less than $150 for a publication.

influence.co prices graph

You can even offer a free tour in exchange for a post. Tours and activities are something most travel influencers are interested in sharing with their audiences.

So, what are you waiting for to start a partnership with a micro-influencer?

What should I do before start searching for an Influencer?

Before contacting someone for a partnership, the first thing you need is a clear goal. Each goal demands a different message, type of content and platform.

Are you looking for generating brand awareness? Increasing your number of followers? Driving traffic to a landing page? Or maybe boosting the bookings for a specific tour?

For example, if you target a mature audience and you want to increase your sales, a written tour review published on a blog or news portal might be more relevant than a post on Instagram.

You also need to set specific metrics for each of your goals. If you want to drive more traffic to a page, tracking the number of clicks using bitly is a good solution.

Or, if your goal is to increase the number of followers on Instagram, you can use Facebook Insights to track the changes in your audience number.

Finally, have a clear budget for your campaign. Will you pay in cash or will you offer a free tour?

Your budget determines the reach of your campaign. The more followers an account has the more expensive is a collaboration.

Once you have these points clear on your marketing plan it’s time to find the right influencer for your campaign.

Where to find micro-influencers for my travel brand?

Hiring an influencer marketing agency would solve most of your problems regarding working with an influencer. But the idea of this article is to show you that influencer marketing can be affordable.

Alternatively, you can remove the middle man by searching for micro-influencers directly on social media, Google, or third-party tools.

Searching for influencers on social media

If your idea is to reach potential customers on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Pinterest, or any other social media, your search should start on the desired platform.

There are some ways to do that, I’ll list three of them below.

Hashtag search

Influencers are always using hashtags to increase the reach of their posts. Use that to find potential partners in your niche.

If you are an adventure tour operator, the hashtag #adventuretravel on Instagram is a good starting point for your search.

screenshot instagram results for micro influencers

The next step is to check the profiles that posted the pictures in the “Top Posts” section. Chances are these profiles to be micro-influencers, and if they fit your needs you can DM them for a partnership.

Don’t forget to check their number of followers. Remember, you are looking for profiles with a maximum of 25,000 followers.

Group search

Probably you know that Facebook has a group feature. Groups are similar to forums, and they can be very specific regarding a topic, such as destinations to visit.

Travel groups are a good place to find micro-influencers. Usually, you can find them sharing pictures, blogs and other content in these places.

In the group Destination Namibia, Chris Kane (@ck_the_explorer) a travel photographer and blogger shared these astonishing images from his trip to Namibia.

example micro influencer post on facebook group

He is definitely a micro-influencer you would like to partner with.

Find influencers among your fans

Your own pages could be a source of partners to your brand. The best part of finding micro-influencers among your followers is that they are already interested in your product.

Because of that, you will need less effort to start a partnership and their content will be more authentic.

There is no secret in finding potential micro-influencers that are your brand fans. All you need to do is to go through your profile and check all your followers. The ones with an audience bigger than 1,000 are potential partners to your brand.

Searching for influencers on Google

Searching for micro-influencers on Google is especially helpful if your goal is to work with a travel blogger.

Bloggers usually write using SEO techniques and are already ranking on Google for specific keywords. This could immensely help you in driving organic traffic to your pages.

When searching for travel bloggers on Google, try to find the ones that write for your target audience. If you sell food tours in Barcelona, for example, would be interesting to find bloggers writing for this specific niche.

A query for the term “food blogs in Barcelona” returns interesting results.

screenshot google results-micro influencer search

In this example, the first result in Google has a list of food blogs that could be potential partners for your business.

Searching for influencers using third-party tools

Finding a micro-influencer directly on social media or Google demands effort and there is always the risk you end up with a bad partnership due to a detail that passed by.

BuzzSumo, Klear, Ninja Outreach and Influence.co are examples of third-party tools that could save you a lot of time and help you in making an accurate decision when searching for a micro-influencer.

Use them to search for influencers based on categories and keywords, like “travel” and “food”. Searching for “travel” on Influence.co returned almost 19,000 results.

influence.co travel influencers results

You can limit your search by location, number of followers, engagement rate, and so on. Which is totally convenient when searching for a micro-influencer.

Some platforms are paid, but others like Influence.co have free plans. Study the options available and choose the one that best fits your needs.

How to choose the right influencer to represent my brand?

Once you have a list of potential partners, you should choose the one(s) with the most potential to drive the desired results.

Start by checking their backgrounds, previous posts, even contact past brands they were partners with in order to find out if they are a good fit for your campaign. Vetting the influencer is an important step to avoid headaches in the future.

Another aspect you should pay attention to is if their followers really match your target audience. Take a closer look at their public demographics before making a contact. Give special attention to the people who are engaging with their posts.

Expat influencers are a great option if you are an inbound tour operator. They live in your location and talk to an audience based in their home country.

For example, a tour operator based in Cape Town targeting Americans could partner with a local expat influencer from America.

A successful partnership between a travel brand and micro-influencers

Hawaii’s department of tourism released an Instagram campaign called #LetHawaiiHappen. For this campaign, they used local micro-influencers to share content promoting events and destinations that tourists and locals would be interested in visiting.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Hawaii (@gohawaii)

The result was that 65% of the people impacted by the campaign said they would visit Hawaii. An impressive result, isn’t it?

Hiring an influencer

Congratulations, you found the right person to work with! But wait, before getting the hands dirty there is still something to be done.

Regardless of the influencer, it’s highly recommended that you draw a contract before formalizing the partnership.

Make sure to add all the terms you expect from the partnership in this contract. Which platform the content will be posted on, the number of posts, when they should be posted, the type of content, and how the influencer should report the results of the campaign to you.

If you will pay the influencer with free services, that should also be outlined in the contract.

You can also agree on the property of the content created by the influencer. That is important because some influencers create very good material that you could use in future campaigns.

Conclusion

Working with micro-influencers will help you stand out from your competitors and reach a new public.

Influencer marketing is a great alternative to other traditional marketing strategies such as PPC and SEO. The first is costly and the latter takes time to give results.

Micro-influencers with 1,000–10,000 followers have a high engagement rate and charge way less than celebrity influencers for a post. Some even accept a free tour in exchange for a publication.

If you want to master digital marketing for tour operators, download our Comprehensive Guide on Digital Marketing in Tourism. Reading it will give you an idea of what is necessary to thrive in the digital space and boost your sales.

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