By John Scott

There will always be a place for reviews in travel PR and, with the rise of social media, we can be ever-more precise in targeting the right coverage for clients.

But the opportunity influencer marketing affords us does not mean there’s no place in our travel PR strategy for traditional ink-and-paper.

What this differentiation does is give us an even greater ability to segment our audiences. After all, the people who follow an Instagram influencer aren’t usually the same people who read the travel section of the Daily Telegraph.

But they’ve both got money to spend and the sophistication of modern travel marketing tools means we are able to target both demographics with sniper-like accuracy as opposed to the shotgun shell blast of days gone by.

It’s all about audience segments. We spend a lot of time identifying exactly who our clients’ audience is then engage with them in the right way, in the right place, at the right time.

Knowing your market

At its heart is an acknowledgement that old and new media work in different ways and appeal to largely different markets.

The readership of newspapers is predominantly older, and older people tend to have a bigger disposable income. So getting some old-fashioned press cuttings really does help the hotel brands we work with.

If you can get a two-page spread in a newspaper that the CEO of any company reads, they’re going to appreciate that a lot more than coverage on a blog or Instagram Story.

But that’s an indicator of how audiences are split. Older people tend to migrate towards trusted news sources – newspapers, radio and TV, even the online offshoots of their favourite print titles – rather than be swayed by social media influencers.

A newspaper giving a destination a review is like a stamp of approval and that carries more weight among older demographics. The thing is, the reverse is true among younger people and your travel marketing and PR has to adjust to compensate.

Younger demographics tend to trust personal experiences more than they trust the media. You can see that in things like the way Millennials are more likely to go for an Instagram-friendly experiential holiday than their parents may have been at a similar age.

Find the right influencer

The trick with the younger market is finding the right social media influencer for the brand. For example, someone doing a beauty blog is not necessarily going to get through to the people interested in city breaks that our hotel clients want to sell.

With the family-friendly Apex Hotels brand, we’d tend to go after more family-orientated bloggers. But even then, not just any blogger will do.

With influencer marketing, a major plank of the travel PR strategy rests on assessing the content of their blog and whether it’s reaching the audience we want to reach. What they are producing has to fit the bill for the client, first and foremost, but it has to be getting to the right people as well.

That doesn’t mean we’d automatically go for a blogger with a 50,000 following in Instagram. We have to make sure there’s engagement there – if there isn’t, how can we know the followers are real or reading, even?

But if someone with half that following is getting thousands of likes, comments and interactions, that’s a sign their content is getting through – making them the blogger to plump for.

And there is a place for that beauty blogger we mentioned earlier. For example, some of Apex’s hotels have award-winning spa facilities, so of course we’d want a social media influencer with an interest in beauty to come and try that out. We’d be reaching an engaged audience and one that’s perhaps different from the brand’s typical customer.

Add longevity to a campaign

Bloggers also allow us to add longevity to a campaign. There is a limited number of newspapers whose travel sections our clients could feature in. And once they’ve reviewed a hotel, for example, they won’t be back until there’s something novel to see, such as a revamp or an astonishing new chef.

Using influencer marketing means we can achieve regular coverage for a brand or destination. Press cuttings will always be important, but any travel brand should ignore the strength of influencer marketing at its peril.

Paying for a review visit is a financial hit for clients. They lose a room they could have sold, and on occasion agree to cover free drinks, food and beauty treatments that could add hundreds to a bill.

But they acknowledge there’s a return on that investment in terms of coverage and increased brand awareness.

And with audience segmentation, we’re able to make sure it’s the right people who are getting those messages – every time.

 We are the travel marketing experts. Contact us now on 0800 612 9890.