In these unprecedented times where safety is paramount and travel still uncertain, never has it been so important to give first-person perspectives of the luxury guest experience. Cue the increasing use of luxury influencer campaigns, a digital marketing strategy whereby individuals with niche audiences promote travel brands through blogs and social media.
What are influencer marketing campaigns?
Influencer marketing campaigns are a business collaboration with an influential person who is able to promote a product, service, or experience. This concept first began with celebrity endorsements, but as authenticity and relatability has become more important to audiences, social content creators with large audiences are now often more valuable to brands.
According to Hootsuite, in 2019 almost half of US and UK digital marketers spent at least 10% of their marketing budget on influencer marketing, and this is growing every day. Mediakix found that in the same year, 65% of marketers planned to up their influencer marketing budgets. What’s more, the MediaKix study shows that 71% of marketers say the quality of customers, leads, and traffic from influencer marketing is better than those from other sources, showing its clear merit.
Why use luxury influencer campaigns for travel?
Luxury influencer campaigns are particularly successful within the affluent travel sector, with a new generation of charismatic individuals leading the charge. Typically offering their services in return for free stays in luxury resorts and hotels, or other free experiences, influencers share their adventures on their blogs and social accounts, using powerful imagery and beautiful video content which in turn gives brands positive exposure to the right audiences.
Instagram is an ideal platform for luxury travel influencers, being the fastest growing social media channel with more than one billion users. Its model revolves around imagery meaning that it works well for the luxury travel sector, as beautiful images are one of the most valuable tools for selling these experiences.
At Relevance, we find the biggest benefit of influencer marketing is in reaching an audience through an already trusted medium, not aggressively pushing the brand into the face of our HNW and UHNW audience but instead letting them discover our brands in a way that they are comfortable with, make an informed decision. This type of marketing is also useful in reaching a very niche group of people, with businesses able to select influencers that they work with based on their followers and affinity to their brand.
We have implemented influencer marketing to build brand awareness and grow leads for a number of clients in the yachting and high-value villa industries, amongst other sectors. One of these clients is French Riviera real estate agency St Tropez House, with whom we worked with luxury influencer Tom Claeren to promote two different properties, Villa Ama and Villa Las Brisas
For Villa Ama, we created a two-minute video, Instagram-friendly short videos (Reels), and photos of the property with models including our influencer. This content was published on Youtube and Instagram (feed, Reels, Stories) by both St Tropez House and Tom Claeren, and promoted by St Tropez House in a newsletter. The photos were also used in digital advertising banners. During the creation of this content, we put a big emphasis on the backstage, behind-the-scenes elements, also sharing live videos from the shoots.
The result was that St Tropez House nearly doubled its Instagram followers, gaining 1,000 fans. The campaign also led to the agency booking seven weeks out of ten weeks available at Villa Ama. Out of five clients that booked, four said that they booked based on the video with Tom Claeren, and none of the bookers actually visited the villa in person. On top of this, the villa now has a waiting list for next season.
For Villa Las Brisas we followed a similar formula, and were rewarded with impressive results. Despite being promoted during the COVID-19 era, when we saw a lot of travel-related unease, St Tropez secured a pre-booking for three weeks in 2022, exclusively on the basis of the video.
Three luxury travel brands with the strongest influencer campaigns
If you want to implement an influencer campaign for your luxury brand, first get inspired by three of our favourite influencer-centric travel brands below.
Giraffe Manor is part of the The Safari Collection, which comprises four luxury boutique camps and lodges dotted across the finest locations in Kenya. This high-end, sustainable resort has been using Instagram luxury travel micro-influencers to boost awareness of the exclusive resort to a HNW and UHNW audience, from laid-back giraffe-feeding imagery delivered by blacktravelpassport (16.7k followers) to high-fashion shots by GirlsTravelMagazine (102k followers).
One benefit of using micro-influencers, who typically have anywhere between 3-100k followers, is that although they may have a smaller followerbase, it will likely consist of a more engaged and dedicated audience. According to a recent study, 82% of consumers are ‘highly likely’ to follow a recommendation made by a micro-influencer. This is because people who follow micro-influencers generally really value their opinions, regarding these influencers almost as a friend – as influencers grow and grow, it is harder for them to appear as relatable or authentic. Micro-influencers are also often much more affordable for brands working within a strict marketing budget.
Most of the Giraffe Manor collaborations find a way to work in the resort’s famous giraffes, who are referred to by their individual names on the brand’s own Instagram and are undoubtedly the main attraction. The posts also highlight the unspoilt wilderness of the resort, while hinting at its five-star nature.
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
The Fairmont brand owns more than 70 hotels and resorts worldwide including The Plaza in New York, The Savoy in London and the Fairmont Monte-Carlo in Monaco. The luxury brand has chosen to put influencer campaigns at the very heart of its marketing strategy, seeing this as the ideal way to reach engaged audiences.
Mansi Vagt, Executive Director Of e-Commerce & Digital Marketing at AccorHotels, which now owns the Fairmont brand, said: “We know that our guests today are motivated by the desire to experience new and authentic local activities. Our iconic hotels are located in some of the most exciting destinations in the world and offer the opportunity for once in a lifetime experience. We wanted to show that through the eyes of key influencers using video content to bring it to life and share our story with their fans and followers.”
She added: “It is not just about huge fans and followers in my opinion, but rather the right message being delivered in the most authentic way possible to targeted and relevant audiences bit by bit.”
Examples of successful influencer marketing campaigns from Fairmont Hotels & Resorts include a 20 minute video on Fairmont’s Banff Springs Hotel on the Luxury Travel Expert YouTube channel, which offers a walk-around tour offering behind-the-scenes access to places like the kitchens as well as the different rooms and amenities, making viewers feel like they are right there with the influencer.
Another particularly successful influencer campaign, which resulted in a 10% revenue increase and a 2% market share increase across Canada, was Fairmont’s Canada 150 Integrated Campaign which was shortlisted for The Shorty Awards in 2018.
The objective of the campaign was to mark the 150th anniversary of confederation in Canada, whilst raising awareness of Fairmont’s iconic properties across the country. Part of the campaign saw key influencers transported on a private jet to a ‘Fairmont-inspired’ ski chalet, where they created the world’s first ‘apres-ski’ experience at 30,000 ft. The group of influencers took part in a number of enviable activities such as snowmobiling, ice fishing, horse-drawn sleigh rides, skiing and curling. This resulted in more than 32.9 million impressions via influencers, exceeding the goal by 64.5%.
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company
Another luxury hospitality brand to have successfully implemented numerous influencer marketing campaigns is The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, which boasts more than 90 luxury hotels and resorts in 30 different countries.
Influencers that this chain of luxury hotels has worked with include everyone from professional photographer and micro-influencer Chris Aznar (53.4k followers) to Instagram household name and world-traveler Jack Morris (2.5m followers), ensuring that the brand is presented to a variety of different audiences, which is especially important for a global brand like Ritz-Carlton.
Every luxury travel influencer that they work with is able to make a believable link between their exotic lifestyles and travels and the glamourous Ritz Hotel, giving fantastic exposure to the luxury brand, particularly amongst Millennial and Gen Z HNWIs, UHNWIs and HENRY’s (high-earners-not-rich-yet), who are more prevalent on Instagram.
Influencer marketing can be a highly effective way of attracting the right kind of aspiring and future clients, but as we have seen, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to these campaigns. Getting it right is all about understanding what works for your brand, and most importantly, your audience. If you would like to discuss incorporating luxury influencer campaigns into your brand’s digital marketing strategy, please get in touch to see how Relevance can help.