Influencer marketing isn’t just for ecommerce and DTC brands anymore. Today, all brands can benefit from the trust and authenticity gained from a creator’s honest endorsement. And with global travel far exceeding prepandemic levels, travel and tourism companies should be taking full advantage.
In this blog, we’ll discuss some of the latest trends in travel influencer marketing and dive into the industries that can benefit most from introducing a travel influencer program.
What are travel and tourism influencers?
Travel and tourism influencers are content creators who share their travel experiences, insights, recommendations, and adventures online. They specialize in creating and curating content related to travel destinations, cultural experiences, local cuisine, accommodations, activities, and more.
That said, creators don’t have to have a massive following to be travel influencers. Whether someone has 500 or 5 million followers, you can still leverage their travel content to accumulate quality content and drive awareness and conversions.
Statistics travel brands should know about
The travel industry has been through a lot over the past few years. Let’s take a look at where it stands now and where experts predict it’s heading.
Travel and tourism revenue is booming.
Tourism is back and better than ever after a two-year lull due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Global revenue in the travel and tourism market reached $855 billion in 2023 and is expected to grow by about $70 billion by the new year. By 2027, researchers predict global revenue to exceed $1 trillion.
More than half of Americans are eager to take their next trip.
Travel is on the horizon for more than half of Americans. A recent survey showed 6 of 10 people are looking into taking their next trip (and with a larger budget, too).
International travel is on the upswing.
Travelers are ready to experience new sights and cultures in countries across the globe. In fact, Mastercard CFO Sachin Mehra shared that international travel is at 110% of pre-pandemic levels, and he estimates that this trend will only grow as there “continues to be pent-up demand.”
Top travel brands are back to advertising.
The travel industry spent $4.05 billion on advertising in 2022, up from $3.54 billion in 2021 and $2.99 billion in 2020.
As a result, brands from local to global are staking their claim in the marketing world.
Take United Airlines, for example. After not running a major ad campaign for nearly a decade, the company recently launched its “Good Leads the Way” initiative.
The impact of social media influencers on tourism
We’ve all heard about travel influencers. Most of us probably even follow a couple. But what is the impact of social media influencers on the tourism industry as a whole? Let’s take a closer look.
Travelers trust influencers for recommendations.
It looks like influencers have been living up to their name in the travel industry. Roughly 85% of adults say they have taken a recommendation from a travel influencer in the United States. Only 11% of those surveyed said they have never looked to an influencer for recommendations.
Millennials choose travel destinations with social media in mind.
Millennials are going to take a lot of photos on vacation. And about 40% of them even say they pick a holiday destination based on how “Instagrammable” the pics will be. Influencers play a massive role in showcasing the destinations (and photo ops) that await their next trip.
Everyday travelers are influencers—whether they realize it or not.
Speaking of Millennials, about 89% say they plan their vacations based on pictures posted by their peers. Whether they realize it or not, the “everyday” traveler has influence. We’ll talk about some ways brands can capitalize on that shortly.
What types of brands can benefit from a travel influencer program?
All brands in the travel and tourism industry can benefit from a travel influencer program. And with so many options available to consumers, there is no better way to zero in on niche audiences and generate excitement for your brand. Let’s have a look at all the industries having success with the strategy.
“How am I going to get there?” That’s generally the first question people ask when planning a trip. And with influencer marketing, you can help put your brand top of mind when it’s time for your target audience to hit the road.
@christineleeee Seattle vlog with @delta 🥰 As a SkyMiles member every mile you earn is a mile toward the things you love most! #SkyMilesLife #ad ♬ original sound – Christine Le
Major airlines have successfully partnered with creators to promote their services and bring awareness to new offerings. Delta Airlines, for example, partnered with influencers using the hashtag #SkyMilesLife to promote a new microsite for SkyMiles members. The campaign brought awareness to the new site and helped generate hundreds of content pieces the airline could repurpose across owned and paid channels.
Cruise ship companies
Want creators to sing your praises online? Offer them an experience they won’t forget. That’s exactly what Princess Cruises did with dozens of travel bloggers to show audiences how booking a trip with the cruise line can help travelers “Come Back New.” By leveraging an engaged audience that trusts their favorite creators for travel inspiration, the cruise line helped build brand awareness and compete with other major players in the industry.
Rental cars and ride-sharing apps
@lifewithcina #ad Shout out to @Uber ♬ original sound – C i n a 🇭🇹
Sometimes, “traveling” just means catching a ride through town. And rental car companies and ride-sharing services are already catching on to how creators can help encourage people to hitch a ride. Take Uber, for example, which leverages creators to showcase its services as well as encourage new drivers to work for the company.
Next question: “Where am I going to stay when I get there?” No worries—influencers can help with that, too. Here are just a few examples:
@elenataber come with me on a lil staycation in nyc at @citizenmhotels #AD #citizenM #citizenMhotel ♬ Aesthetic – Tollan Kim
Hotel companies, big and small, can leverage influencer marketing to showcase their unique offerings, such as luxurious accommodations, dining experiences, and spa facilities. Influencers are masters at creating captivating visuals and personal stories that evoke an emotional connection with potential guests to enhance brand awareness, trust, and ultimately drive direct bookings.
@hangrybynature 📍Hilton Salwa Beach Resort AD @hilton #travels #traveltheworld #qatar #qatar2022 ♬ Johny Says Stay Cool – Babe Rainbow
Similarly to hotels, resorts can use influencers to spotlight what a day in the life looks like on one of their properties. By collaborating with brand-aligned creators, resorts can convey a sense of exclusivity (or inclusivity, depending on the brand), adventure, and relaxation, enticing travelers to book a memorable escape.
@torastravels Ad • I was so lucky to be the first guest at this dreamy Airbnb in Holbox 🤍💭 The Airbnb is called Casa Noma-Noma, and you can book through this 🔗: https://abnb.me/iICSnLGebxb #fyp #foryoupage #fypシ #islaholbox #airbnbfinds #traveltok #travelbucketlist #viral #dreamhotel #boutiquehotel ♬ Sunday – HNNY
You never know what you might find on an accommodation-sharing site like Airbnb or VRBO. That’s why many of these companies use creators to help get the word out and provide aspirational content that encourages people to get out and explore.
Food and beverage
Sometimes, the best part about traveling is all the new food and drinks you get to try. But there are so many options! Creators can help narrow it down and give their audiences an authentic perspective on the best spots in town.
Bars, restaurants, and cafes
@atasteofkoko ⚡️ NEW coolest bar in Austin Texas with all the iconic neon vintage signs of current and past restaurants and businesses in the city! Which signs do you recognize?? [ Sign Bar ] 〰 75 vintage & classic signs of the city 〰 originally a closed automobile service station 〰 RIP iconic signs like I Luv Video, Dart Bowl, Doc’s, 〰 on-site maze to explore 〰 dog-friendly 〰 open daily Monday through Thursday from 4pm to 2 am and Friday through Sunday from 11am to 2am 📍9909 FM 969 #austintexas #austintx #austinbars #texastodo #thingstodoinaustin #atxbarscene #austinbars #austinlife #austinnightlife #visitaustin #atxbars #atxdrinks #stufftodoinaustin #austincocktails #downtownaustin #signbaraustin #austintexasbars ♬ Lo-fi hip hop – NAO-K
Bars, restaurants, and cafes can strike gold with influencer marketing to help showcase unique menu items, ambiance, and customer experiences. Whether travelers are looking for a chill local spot or a fancy night out, more and more are turning to social media to help them make their decisions.
Wineries, breweries, and distilleries
@brittsbellavita Ocean views & wine = perfect California day 😍 #explorenorcal #travelcalifornia #northerncalifornia #bestofcalifornia #mendocinocounty #norcal #mendocino #mendocinocoast #californiawinery #californiatravel #norcaladventures #californiacoast #pacificstarwinery #californiahiddengems #californiablogger #californiaroadtrip ♬ space song sped up – autumn <3
Visiting a winery, brewery, or distillery is just as much about the experience as the spirits. Brands can use creators to help audiences get an idea of the overall vibe of your establishment and inspire them to visit on their next outing.
Food delivery services
@curtisneal97 #ad Thank you @eatstreet_hq when downloading the app use my referral code. CURTN43382 #ad #fooddelivery #service ♬ original sound – curtis neal
Exhausted from a big night out and just want to order in? Yep, influencers can help there, too. Providing influencers with promo codes for food delivery services is a great way to encourage orders and improve awareness while still allowing travelers to sample some of the local cuisine.
Entertainment and experiences
So what is there to do in this town besides eat? Glad you asked. But let’s let the creators answer that question for us instead.
@cravecle Have you been to the Frontier Festival at @Cedar Point before? Now through June 18, they have seven stations with food incorporating corn! #CedarPoint #FrontierFestival #Ad #LifeNeedsMore ♬ Good Times (Instrumental) – Track and Field
Reading about theme and amusement parks doesn’t hit the same as seeing it in action. Creators can give audiences an authentic look at what to expect if you’re seeking thrills or just want to enjoy a family-friendly experience with young children.
@lanyevest I stikl have goosebumps @bonnaroo @ODESZA #edm #pyro #bonnaroo2022 ♬ original sound – Lanye Vest
Festivals can leverage influencer marketing to create anticipation and excitement for an upcoming event. For instance, an influencer could document their journey to the festival, sharing their preparations, excitement, and expectations. During the event, they could provide real-time updates, share behind-the-scenes insights, and showcase their favorite performances or attractions.
@yourdcbestie @d.c. united #washingtondc #dcthings #dctiktok ♬ original sound – Sam | Your DC Bestie
Sporting events can capitalize on influencer marketing to amplify fan engagement, increase ticket sales, and enhance the event’s buzz by encouraging creators to make content around the event. By providing a glimpse of the event’s electric atmosphere, the influencer encourages their followers to participate in the experience, boosting ticket sales, attendance, and the event’s overall appeal.
i want this at my house
Many museums regularly change their exhibits to offer visitors fresh and diverse experiences. Partnering with influencers can help bring awareness to your new offerings or simply show audiences all the museum staples they have been missing out on.
@wewriteaboutmusic If youve been, then you know, but i think this concert venue is super overlooked when compared to the iconic venues in the US! #concerttok #mcmenaminsedgfield #concertseason ♬ Not Strong Enough – boygenius
Live music event organizers can benefit from influencer marketing by partnering with creators to promote concerts, festivals, and performances. The creator might attend the event as a VIP guest, sharing exclusive behind-the-scenes content, live-streaming performances, conducting artist interviews, and capturing the crowd’s energy. By providing a unique perspective and authentic coverage, the influencer helps build an emotional connection, both during and after the event.
@kaliekaimann A behind the scenes look at Dorothy’s Oz to Kansas quick change at the end of the show! Special shout out to our amazing crew for making all the magic happen backstage! 🌈✨ 📍 Backstage @ The Fireside Theatre’s “Wizard of Oz” 💚 #fyp #foryou #theatre #musical #wizardofoz #quickchange #behindthescenes ♬ original sound – Kalie Kaimann
Theaters can leverage influencer marketing to promote performances, productions, and cultural events. For a more traditional theater providing stage performances, consider inviting influencers to attend a dress rehearsal or feature the characters. For a movie theater, creators are great guests to set the tone for an opening night premiere.
Photography and videography
@pepperonimuffin OK AND THE FACT THAT THE CAMERA IS WHITE IS SO CUTE #Canon #CanonCreator @canonusa #ad ♬ original sound – kirstentitus
Photography and videography brands can effectively leverage travel and tourism influencers to showcase their products while highlighting stunning destinations. For instance, a camera brand can collaborate with a travel influencer to create a series of visually captivating posts and videos that demonstrate the brand’s camera equipment in real travel scenarios. Through this collaboration, the influencer can effectively promote the photography and videography brand’s products while inspiring their audience to capture their own travel experiences with high-quality gear.
Language learning and education
@ehbeefamily Understanding Parents – @Duolingo Family Plan Saves The Day! #DuolingoPartner #ad ♬ original sound – Eh Bee Family
Visiting a place where you don’t speak the language can be intimidating. Language learning and education software can ease some of that stress, and many are partnering with influencers to spread the word.
@mpgfortworth Home for sale in Benbrook, Tx🏡 #homeforsale #fortworth #texas #hometour #walkthrough #videotour #realestate #dfw #foryou #fyp #virtualtour ♬ love nwantinti (ah ah ah) – CKay
So you went on vacation and decided you wanted to stay forever? We’ve all been there. And now, even real estate companies can harness the power of influencer marketing to spotlight the latest listings and provide virtual walkthroughs of some of their favorite properties.
Tourism influencer marketing trends to inspire your strategy
Tourism influencers are always changing their strategy to stay on top of the latest trends. To keep up, your brand should also keep a close eye on what’s hot in the world of travel. Here are a few of the latest trends to keep an eye on:
Sustainable and eco-friendly travel
@sustainabilitymattersva Summertime is finally here, and for lots of us, that means it's time to travel ✈️☀️ But unlike your job, you NEVER need a break from practicing sustainability 😉 Here are 3 tips to help you travel more sustainably this summer: 1️⃣Choose eco-friendly modes of transportation. Trains tend to be the best option, and flying is normally the most harmful to the planet. 2️⃣Eat local (this is always a good sustainable practice). 3️⃣Limit your itinerary to a few stops, instead of traveling to a bunch of different places. #sustainable #sustainabilitymatters #travel #vacation #sustainabletravel ♬ original sound – Sustainability Matters
More than 80% of people say that sustainable travel is important to them. As a result, many travel and tourism brands have looked into ways to lower their carbon footprint.
If you’re one of them—or want to be in the future—travel influencers can be the ticket to sharing your mission with your audience. With the right partner, you can convey your sustainability vision to a broader audience while bringing awareness to an important issue.
Micro and local travel
@qeeq.com 3 spots in San Diego only locals know.#sandiego#travel#tiktoktravel#fyp ♬ original sound – QEEQ.com
Travel doesn’t always have to be “far and wide.” Micro travel, also known as micro-tourism or micro-vacations, refers to a trend in the travel industry where individuals take short, focused, and often spontaneous trips that last for a relatively brief time. Micro travel is characterized by its emphasis on quick getaways, making it a great opportunity for highlighting local exploration and experiences to audiences in specific geographic locations.
‘Workcation’ for digital nomads
@henkel777 Best tech for coding as Digital nomad. I'm learning computer programming while traveling full time as a digital nomad and this is the gear I use for programming and also for my motion design work. #tech #mygear #computerprogramming #coding #mechanicalkeyboard #mouse #laptop #tablesetup #programming #fyp #wakeup ♬ Wake Up – Cheese People
The “workcation” trend is where travelers combine work responsibilities with vacation or leisure activities. Essentially, it involves working remotely from a travel destination, allowing people to enjoy a change of scenery while still fulfilling their work duties.
This trend is perfect for showcasing day trips or after-work spots to get dinner or a drink in a particular city. It’s also an opportunity for tech and accessory brands to show how their products can make working on the go comfortable and feasible.
@treatyoselfeverywhere My Top 10 NYC Food Spots as a Tourist🗽🍕🥯🍔#nycfood #newyorkfood #lafayette #katzdeli #nyeats #newyorktravel #newyorkrestaurants #lexingtoncandyshop #aucheval #pastramisandwich #nybagel #sodafloat ♬ Empire State Of Mind – JAY-Z
Ready to show the world all the delicious cuisine your area has to offer? Influencers can help. Many people take a trip specifically for the food, so you’ll want to promote it as much as possible on social media.
@madisonbrookstravel If you’re nervous about solo travel, these are three places that I felt extremely safe in! ##traveladvice##budgettravel##travelgirl##femaletraveler##hostellife##gapyear##travellife##solofemaletraveler##solotraveler##solotravel##solotraveltips ♬ Sail – AWOLNATION
With more people operating on flexible work-from-home schedules, solo adventures have become popular among young travelers eager to see the world. And partnering with solo traveler influencers allows brands to share products and experiences with all the lone wolves out there while connecting themselves with themes of personal growth, adventure, and exploration.
More travel influencer marketing examples from brands that nailed it
Need a bit more inspiration for your next campaign with travel and tourism influencers? Here are a few more travel influencer marketing examples from brands that nailed it:
@champagnegetaway My dream brand “Marriott” is looking for 3 tiktokkers to travel the world with them this year and do #30stays300days ! Vote for us by liking & commenting @Marriott Bonvoy #contest ♬ Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) – Edison Lighthouse
Instead of searching out creators to partner with, the Marriott Bonvoy team asked the creators to come to them. The major hotel chain announced it was looking for three influencers to stay at 30 of its locations over 300 days and had interested parties apply by posting on TikTok using the hashtag #30stays300days. The contest attracted millions of views and generated some serious buzz around the content and the Marriott brand in general.
@kristiesita #ad DREAMY! Link in bio for $30 off your next trip #ad @hopper ♬ SUMMER GIRL – Ian Hugel
Hopper, a service that allows users to find discounted plane tickets and accommodations, partners with creators to showcase the amazing savings people can earn when using the app. Hopper provides creators with affiliate links to track sales and offers viewers an extra incentive to book a trip.
@sulheejessica #ad The most delicious food offered on the @Royal Caribbean cruise! Room Service + Chops Grille + Jamie’s Italian + Izumi #RoyalComeback #RoyalCaribbean ♬ FEEL THE GROOVE – Queens Road, Fabian Graetz
Royal Caribbean has found a lot of success partnering with creators who can give their audience a look into a “day in the life” on one of the company’s cruises. These creators can share details about entertainment, accommodations, dining, and more. Then, to make the offer all the more enticing, they highlight the low prices people can book these vacations for, making a luxurious trip feel within reach for anyone.
Key takeaway: Let travel influencers be your ticket to high-flying ROI.
No matter your connection to the tourism industry, travel influencers can be the key to taking your business to new heights. By partnering with creators who can showcase your products and services in a relatable and authentic way, the sky’s the limit for what you can accomplish moving forward.