Can Influencers Save the Travel Industry from the Woes of Geotagging?

Amber Dunlap | February 13, 2019


Geotagging drives foot traffic. Consider Horseshoe Bend, the sunflower fields of Bogle Seeds Farm, or the beaches of Boracay for examples of how GPS-located metadata on social media has the potential to skyrocket tourism to unmanageable heights while negatively affecting the local environment and community in the process. Some are calling it “loving nature to death.” We’re calling it an opportunity to push the travel industry in the right direction. By tapping into social media influencers’ engaged and loyal audiences, we can get ahead of overtourism.


How to Work with Influencers to Avoid a Geotag Disaster

1. Inform Influencers About the Most Vulnerable Places

No one knows a destination better than the travel industry. Share that knowledge with your influencer partners. Let them know where the most environmentally sensitive areas of your destination are and the locations you would prefer they avoid mentioning altogether. Providing this information to influencers allows you to draw the attention toward or away from particular locations. Additionally, you can request that influencers weave responsible travel best practices into the captions of the content they post, like adventure travel influencer Angela Liggs demonstrates in her post pictured to the right.

Related Content: Are Influencers an Effective Tool for Promoting Travel?


2. Encourage Influencers to Use Generic Geotags

Generic geotags remove the potential for any one place to receive more travelers than it can sustainably handle, while also inherently spreading awareness about the impacts of geotagging on a destination. The Jackson Hole Travel & Tourism Board’s latest marketing campaign has recently received media attention for its industry-leading effort to protect the region’s “highly ‘grammable” wild places. They implored influencers and non-influencers alike to use the generic geotag “Tag Responsibly, Keep Jackson Hole Wild” when posting photos from their trip to social media. Consider crafting a set of social media recommendations for influencers and travelers to employ during their visit. For some inspiration, visit The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics’ social media guidelines. Some influencers are taking matters into their own hands, and using their own influence as a force for good by making the deliberate choice not to geotag locations on their posts, like outdoor advocate and influencer Katie Boue (see left).


3. Shift the Content Focus to Experiences Over Specific Places 

As generic geotagging draws attention to a destination without giving away any specific locations, having influencers post content that features experiences or qualities of a destination can have the same effect. When working with influencers, request that they focus their social media content around the authentic experiences a traveler can enjoy anywhere in a destination. For example, travel influencer Marysia of My Travel Affairs Blog features Georgia from the perspective of its culture, food, and tradition without singling out just one restaurant, winery, or polyphonic choir.

Related Content: New Video Campaign Reaches 5.7 Million in 2 Months

Looking Beyond Social Media Influencers in the Age of Overtourism

With influence comes responsibility and an ethical duty to wield that influence wisely. Work with influencers who recognize their power to protect the people and places they present to their mass following, and use influencer marketing as just one tool in your greater strategy to prevent and combat overtourism.


Join the Conversation

Tell us: What’s your take on the intersection of social media, destination marketing, and long-term sustainability? What other strategies does your organization use to combat and prevent overtourism? Tweet your responses using the hashtag #GLPRoundtable on Twitter.