How To Attract The High-Value Traveler on Instagram
Amber Dunlap & Hilary Lewkowitz | August 6, 2018
Instagram is one of the most effective visual content platforms for travelers to discover new products and destinations. A recent article in The Outline shows the role Instagram plays in promoting destinations to the masses, leading to the now common phenomenon of "loving nature to death." Not only is the environment degraded by too many travelers, but the community and the authenticity of the attraction suffer as well.
A tourism-driven economy can be successful without a marketing strategy that is dependent on the continuous upward arrow of inbound travelers. How? Through a low volume, high-yield approach of destination management that is supported by a smart marketing strategy that includes Instagram micro-influencers and a target audience. Keep in mind that this is not the primary solution to sustainable destination management, as it does cut out an entire segment of lower budget travelers. However, it is one effective solution to consider weaving into your greater destination marketing strategy.
What is so great about a micro-influencer?
Micro-influencers have a smaller following, but their audience is more engaged and targeted. This smaller group of followers aligns with the micro-influencer's values and interests, and tends to trust the influencer’s opinion on experiences. Therefore, micro-influencers are more likely to sway specific consumer behavior.
For our purposes, the ideal target audience is high-value travelers — those who spend more and stay longer when they travel. Work with a select group of micro-influencers who have that audience on tap, and your destination or tour wins tenfold.
Who is the high-value traveler?
The best micro-influencer to work with is one that reaches and engages high-value travelers. Two key travel consumer segments we will focus on are adventure and sustainable travelers. According to the Adventure Travel Trade Association, adventure travelers are not only high-value travelers, but they tend to respect and support the nature and culture of the places they visit.
According to a report by Sustainable Travel International and Mandala Research, sustainable travelers "spend more (on average $600 per trip), stay longer (seven days compared to four days) and bring higher benefits to local communities including job creation, giving-back and volunteering."
How to Identify Micro-Influencers that Target the High-Value Traveler
Here are three key steps to identify micro-influencers that can target the high-value traveler:
- Identify your target audience: Knowing your target audience is step one to identifying the best micro-influencers to work with in your campaign. If your target market is the high-value traveler, you'll want to identify micro-influencers that have an engaged audience of travelers who value sustainable tourism and adventure travel experiences.
- Understand what motivates these travelers: Adventure travelers want experiences that inspire personal growth, introduce new and off-the-beaten-path destinations, and immerse themselves in the local culture and community. Sustainable travelers look for travel experiences that are low-impact on the environment, positively impact the local people, and stay away from the more crowded sights.
- Seek out micro-influencers that reach your target audience and are most likely to be interested in your product and destination: Keep in mind that micro-influencers tend to be selective about who they work with and conservative with the content they promote. Identify micro-influencers who share similar values with your brand, that way it is easy for them to say yes to working with you.
High-Value, Low-Volume Tourism Strategy In Practice
Destinations are already targeting their marketing to the high-value adventurer willing to pay a premium for unspoiled nature, immersive cultural experiences, and a comfortable home base to explore novel and unique locales. Destination planning along with smart marketing strategies, can result in high value, low-volume tourism economy.
Botswana wants to maximize tourism dollars, but instead of focusing their marketing on attracting as many “camera-toting tourists” as possible, they took a different approach. Botswana targeted travelers with money to spare that are willing to pay a premium for an uncrowded, private, and luxurious African safari experience. Although only a select few within the travel niche have the funds to meet the high price tag, those that do are willing to pay it. This destination marketing strategy has resulted in a thriving tourism-driven economy with fewer tourists trekking through places like Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta.
Rwanda made an impressively quick recovery from years of civil war and now emerges as one of Africa’s premiere destinations. As a result, tour operators like Wilderness Safaris recognize the appeal of a high-end experience that combines sustainability initiatives. For example, when Wilderness Safaris was scouting a location near Volcanoes National Park for their Bisate Lodge, they worked in collaboration with the community to hire locals to help build the property and staff the facilities. The result: an immersive and luxurious experience for travelers that supports the local community.
Targeting the high-value traveler is the way forward for many destinations suffering from or looking to prevent overtourism, and a micro-influencer Instagram strategy is the way to reach them. Micro-influencers have an engaged and entrusted following that will more likely be inspired to travel to destinations that offer a high-value product at a premium price. Let your marketing strategy amplify the hard work you’ve done on the ground to protect and enhance your destination’s communities, economy and environment.