I sure do hope so.
Okay, let me rewind. A few days ago, a friend of mine and fellow travel blogger, Ali, shared this CNN article: Inside the Complicated World of the Travel Influencer (originally titled Is the Age of the Travel Influencer at an End?).
The article discusses the influx of so-called travel influencers who’ve made careers out of promoting places, products, and experiences. But, as the number of these influencers grow and some of them do things like demand free hotel rooms in exchange for coverage or act entitled about what they “deserve,” are people and, more importantly, brands over it all?
The gist of the article is that brands are being much more selective and strategic about how they work with influencers. As one tourism organization PR specialist said:
“We monitor comments and note when users tag other accounts or comment about the destination, suggesting they're adding it to their virtual travel bucket lists. Someone is influential if they have above a 3.5% engagement rate.”
As for regular folks, it’s hard to say whether people are “over” travel influencers as a whole. My guess is that people are likely tired of seeing the same types of images on social media. At least I know I am. You know the images I’m talking about: the (usually) thin woman with long blonde hair holding her wide-brimmed hat while looking off into the distance. Or in a bikini doing who knows what in an infinity pool in Bali. There are some standard poses where you see them so much that they become one big travel Influencer blur. And I say this as someone who has admittedly taken my own picture by an infinity pool in Bali (oops).
Last year, I wrote a blog post asking whether travel influencers are actually influential? I can’t speak for others, only myself. In my opinion, there are plenty of influencers who are actually influential, but that’s because they’ve been blogging for years and have built a following on their expertise and unique viewpoint, NOT because of how they pose in a picture.
For me, social media - particularly Instagram - is an extremely powerful platform for influencing travel, but most times it has nothing to do with someone’s pose in the photo. It’s the scenery, the description, the food, the people and the vibrancy of a place that comes through in the image.
Going to back to the beginning of my blog post when I said “I sure do hope so,” what I mean by that is that I hope it’s the end of these generic, homogenous representations of a “travel influencer.” I hope it’s the end of those who buy their likes and followers (and sometimes photoshop their photos like this person) and call themselves an influencer.
Travel is so much more than these images and so much more than what many of these self-described “travel influencers” are sharing.
What do you think of travel influencers?