An insider look at how to work with influencers

Sara Raymond de Booy

21 February 2017

The traditional role of the travel journalist is changing faster than your PR agency can get an influencer on a plane. As destinations transition to digital-first marketing, influencer trips are becoming ever more common. Your DMO is likely already working with influencers, even if you don’t yet realize it.

But influencers are quite different than the media you’re used to working with, so the traditional press trip isn’t the best way for your DMO to engage with them. How can DMOs host a great influencer trip?

Matt Long, owner of popular travel blog and the North American Director of, spoke at the fall 2015 Social Media Tourism Symposium in New Orleans. He shared advice about how to work with influencers and get the most out of your relationship and their experience.

Watch the full presentation, or read the highlights from Matt Long’s talk below to help plan your next influencer trip or campaign:

How should my DMO work with influencers?

1) The first step is to select the right influencer.

Some influencers are bloggers, and others only use social media, but no matter the platform, one test remains consistent: An influencer is only valuable to your DMO if their followers provide a relevant, valuable audience for your destination.

2) The influencer’s audience engagement is much more important than number of followers.

As a general rule, look for 5-10% engagement on their posts and opt for influencers who have built their communities organically. This might mean that someone with 10,000 followers is a smarter pick than someone with a few million.

3) Think of your influencer trip as a “campaign,” not a FAM trip.

Everything your influencer will see and do is an opportunity to create content. At the same time, keep in mind that they need time to create that content. It’s crucial to develop and agree on an itinerary weeks in advance. Work together on this. The influencer’s feedback will prevent scheduling problems and also ensure that the experiences you’re arranging are relevant for the content they want to create.

4) Think about how you can extend the relationship after they’ve left.

After a great trip, influencers might become de facto ambassadors for your destination and it would be a shame to let that relationship go to waste.

Should I pay an influencer or blogger?

Yes. Your DMO should compensate influencers for their time and effort, because being an influencer is often a full-time career. Influencers have invested in building the audience you are trying to reach, so their time comes with a cost. This might include travel costs plus a daily rate, or a fee for commissioning articles or photos.

It’s crucial to be honest and transparent to ensure that the compensation an influencer expects is within your DMO’s budget. Make sure you both agree on this before starting the project.

What should I avoid doing when working with influencers?

1) Don’t send press releases to influencers you don’t know well.

Good bloggers don’t write from press releases, only from personal experiences. Send an email and introduce yourself instead. Build the relationship first.

2) Don’t feel pressured to say yes to every influencer who knocks on your door.

There is no barrier for entry for bloggers and if their niche audience or quality of their content isn’t up to your standards, you can say no.

3) Don’t let your social team ignore influencers while they’re in market.

You’ve worked hard to build an itinerary and make this trip happen. Make sure your social team engages with your influencer while they’re on the ground. Why not put a little bit of promoted budget behind their content and get your existing audience engaged too?

Consider these suggestions as you plan, and over time, your DMO will be able to build relationships with a valuable network of influencers.

Is your DMO preparing to work with an influencer? Learn more about how to make the most of your influencer trip with these 8 tips from Destination Think’s Chief Strategist, William Bakker.

Featured image credit: m01229, Flickr


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