A Destination and Tourism Business’s Guide to Working with Digital Influencers

A Destination and Tourism Business’s Guide to Working with Digital Influencers

By Paige Rowett
Published on December 3, 2022

Word of mouth is one of the most trusted forms of advertising for a tourism brand, as it relates to influencing the behaviours of potential customers. The concept of word of mouth as a marketing tactic is not new, however, the dynamic of word of mouth marketing has been greatly empowered through the rise of social media.

Social Media has introduced a new level of individual influence; where people can establish and contribute to global communities that can't possibly be matched in the physical world. People have been able to generate credibility online, through creating content that speaks to niches and embracing two-way relationships.

Where individual influence becomes powerful online is through their content and distribution. Content shared by an individual online (whether it is good or bad) can go viral, depending on the number and calibre of an individual's connections and online reputation. This is precisely why working with individuals with digital influence is a really attractive marketing opportunity for tourism marketers, especially if the influencer's message aligns with the destination's brand values.

Benefits of working with a Digital Influencer

Digital influencers can be found on numerous platforms, including Social Media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest) and Blogs.

Tourism brands can benefit from working with Digital Influencers, as Influencers can:

  • Extend your content reach - Influencers can offer you access to new audiences, by sharing your content with their communities
  • Increase your brand trust - Aligning your brand with a respected digital influencer can give your brand instant credibility to people who may not have ever heard of you before.
  • Get your message actioned - People are more likely to take action on messages from a trusted source, and if your message is being pushed out through an Influencer, it has a higher likelihood of being actioned

How to choose a Digital Influencer

First and foremost, you have to be really clear on who your audience is (eg. your Ideal Customer) and what brand messaging you are wanting to promote. This will ultimately dictate which influencer you need to engage, on what particular platform, to get the most value from the partnership.

For destinations, it is important to consider the following criteria when assessing the credibility of influencers.

  • Engagement over followers/likers - don't be fooled by the number of followers, what you need to look for is the number of likes and quality of comments - and whether the influencer is actually communicating with their community, or if it is one way traffic.
  • Accountability - They are willing to commit to delivering certain content over a negotiated period of time.
  • Approachability - What was their communication like when you originally approached them? Were they open and willing to considerer working with your brand?
  • Quality of content - You want to make sure that the content the influencer is creating is of the highest possible quality, as it relates to imagery, writing style etc. Remember, they will be representing your brand if you engage them, so you need to ensure their style fits with yours, and they will be able to tell the key stories around your destination.
  • Industry / destination knowledge - It certainly helps if your influencer is aware of how the tourism industry works, and in particular, what your Ideal Customers will engage with, and more importantly, act upon.
  • Vet, vet, vet - Doing a background check on your shortlist of influencers is really important because they are ultimately representing your brand. You want to ensure will deliver a positive ROI for your investment and present your brand in a positive light (just like traditional media - so long as you brief them well!).

If you want more detailed information on what you need to consider when it comes to assessing the value of an influencer, then you should definitely take the time to read Brian Solis' Report 'The Rise of Digital Influence'.

Don't forget your local influencers...

There are also an increasing number of people producing and publishing exceptional content in your local destination, who are on the verge of establishing themselves as influencers, so why not tap them on the shoulder and invite them to contribute to your destination hashtags?!

How to get the most out of your Influencer Partnership

It is important to be clear on your measurable campaign objectives (what you define as success), and reporting expectations from the get-go.

Professional Influencers who have worked with brands in the past will more than likely have a working process, which details how they undertake work, and what and how they report campaign outcomes to clients. If they don't have a process in place, then you will need to work with them to create a workflow for the campaign.

You will also need to ensure they are well versed on your brand's messaging and relevant hashtags are included in their documentation, so the content they share is on Brand, and is distributed as widely as possible.

Ensure the trip is legally compliant

Also ensure your Organisation and the Influencer fully understand AANA Clearly Distinguishable Advertising Guidelines, and understand the disclosure you and they make when posting content from their trip.

How to measure the ROI of engaging a Digital Influencer

The return on investment of engaging an Influencer can be easy or hard to measure, depending on the platform the influencer is active on, and your campaign objectives.

Some of the social network engagement statistics which you can measure include:

  • Click through rate – What is the click through rate from your call to action? (Note. To measure this from Instagram, they would need to have a trackable URL in their Profile to your website for the duration of their campaign)
  • Subscribers / follower movement – Was there an increase in subscribers / followers for your own social channels / email marketing list during the campaign – how different is it to your usual growth?
  • Social shares – How many times has a video / tweet / blog / influencer content been distributed?
  • Views – How many times has your hashtag / branded video been viewed?
  • Engagement – How many likes, dislikes, comments, shares etc did your influencer content get directly on each post?

Data from Google Analytics that you may find valuable if you are measuring ROI from engaging travel blogger include:

  • Referrals to your website from theirs - This relates to all of the website users that have visited your website from the Travel Bloggers site.
  • Social Shares of their blog posts - How many social shares on the posts you sponsored?
  • Comments on blog posts - How many comments on the posts you sponsored?
  • Referrals to website content from search engines - This data you should be able to get from the Travel Blogger, a good indication of how well their posts are performing in search engine results.
  • User conversion rates from referral visitors - How many of your website users visiting from the Travel Bloggers website are converting? Whether it is online bookings, email subscribers or enquiries?

Like to know more?

Check out these resources to learn more about working with Digital Influencers for your Travel Brand

Have you worked with a digital influencer to promote your destination or business?

If so, then we'd love you to share your insights and advice in the comments section below, and we will add it to the above industry advice section, so we can share with other destination or tourism business marketers who read this blog post!


This blog was originally written in 2017 and was updated for accuracy late 2022.

Paige Rowett

Paige is a visitor economy specialist and co-owner of The Tourism Collective alongside Rebecca and Jaclyn. After growing up on a farm on Eyre Peninsula, and now managing a mixed farming enterprise with her family in the Clare Valley in South Australia, Paige has a genuine love and drive for developing thriving local communities. She is passionate about supporting DMOs / RTOs and Local Government to sensitively manage their destinations to deliver the best social, economic and environmental outcomes for local people and their communities.