Influencer marketing has a mixed reputation in the hotel industry. Many hotels are weary of imposters with delusions of grandeur trying to score free hotel stays at luxury resorts. Thankfully, the rate of imposter influencers like these has slowed significantly in the last few years. The role of influencers has evolved, and the influencer marketing industry has boomed, becoming a powerful marketing tool for hotels of all types, not just the high-end.
In fact, as many as 50% of millennials trust product recommendations from influencers (compared to the 39% that trust celebrity endorsements). Before you approach an influencer for your property, make sure your hotel marketing team considers these basic Dos and Don’ts:
Do Create Goals
Understand what you want out of the partnership. Work with your existing sales and marketing directives and start from there. Are you looking to simply gain exposure in a new market, or are you trying to drive bookings for a specific amenity? Is this to be an ongoing partnership or is it for a single campaign? Having a clear picture of what you hope for will give an influencer campaign the best chance of success.
Don’t Get Hung Up on Big Names
When it comes to the number of followers or likes, more is not always better. Micro-influencers (those with 10,000–100,000 followers) can be a great way to enter the influencer game, without blowing your marketing budget. Focus on finding influencers with shared values, voice, and followers in the markets that will support your marketing goals. For example, if you want to capture booking from attendees of an upcoming Comic-Con, find a blogger with a niche that attendees might also be involved in. Using these “micro-influencers” creatively creates a more authentic message that connects with your target guests.
Do Your Due Diligence
Collaborating with new and upcoming influencers can open exciting new doors and ideas for your hotel’s marketing. It can also come with a lot of uncertainty. Vet influencers before you begin any partnership with them to make sure they don’t have a history of behavior or messages that conflict with your company’s. Focus on how well an influencer engages with their followers.
Don’t Forget About the FTC
While vetting your influencer partner, check that they comply with FTC Guidelines on Disclosures for Influencers. Any product or brand featured by the influencer should have easily identifiable disclosures of the relationship. Check that posts include a simple “Thanks for the free weekend getaway” that ensures you and your new business partner stay out of hot water.
Do Keep it Professional
While influencer marketing relies heavily on personality, remember that this is still a business partnership. Create a contract outlining expected deliverables (number of posts, video content, amenities to feature, etc) and payment that is agreed upon and signed before any work starts. Clearly state what payments they can expect, whether it’s monetary or in the form of a free stay at your property.
One of the best parts about influencer marketing is that they have their own unique voice and some incredibly creative ideas. Be open to hearing their input, even if it isn’t what you had originally envisioned. Give them time to create quality content and avoid quick turnaround deadlines.
Do Provide Support
Any influencer worth their salt will want to do more than just snap a selfie in their hotel room. Make sure the influencer has what they need to create quality content, like strong Wi-Fi and staff awareness of their role. Provide the proper company social media handles or hashtags for the influencer to refer to.
Don’t Forget about the rest of your Marketing Plan
The best influencers have something to offer other than their follower count. Some may have digital imaging, photography, or writing backgrounds. Ask them how else they could enhance your website, on-property décor, or digital communications. You may be surprised at what else they have to offer.
Do Hire the Best Marketing Professionals
Influencer marketing can seem frivolous to even the most experienced hotel marketer, but it has already shown measurable results for many businesses. Find hotel marketing professionals who can think outside the box and try new tactics. Contact Horizon Hospitality’s hotel recruiters to get started in your search.