Just how much value does hosting an ‘influencer’ bring to your venue?
Trying to make your name as a destination, venue, hotel or leisure attraction takes time, patience and tenacity to say no to ‘marketing opportunities’. The days of driving awareness solely by print media are gone and being replaced by multiple digital channels. Done right, the results are amazing but actioned without due diligence, you can end up out of pocket and with a very harried approach of today’s new marketing techniques.
Instagram influencers in particular are an increasingly tricky bunch to quantify and perhaps that’s why they are taking a bit of a bashing at the moment. Social Chain has been very vocal with its research and its punchy short film points to the fact that Instagram influencers are in fact boosting their own content through a new generation of bots and fake likes. This business of falsifying online endorsement is anticipated to be costing brands millions per year.
Triggerfish’s specialism in the hospitality sector means that on a daily basis we get demands from influencers who want to trial and showcase our clients’ products and services. Equally we’ve venues, hotels and heritage venues who don’t want to miss out on the insta-famous generation and will happily jump to host an ‘influencer’ with four figure followings. In the eyes of some operators, the Instagram influencer is capable of changing fortunes at the post of a pic.
But as Social Chain points out, some influencers have manipulated their own following by buying followers. More worryingly there’s a move for some influencers to boost their own posts by buying likes and comments. Yet more alarming is the prevalence of bots to make this happen – it is a literal false economy driven by algorithms and hacks. “One of the biggest, most elaborate, wide spread scams in the history of marketing,” says Social Chain’s Steve Bartlett.
This haunting insight means hotels and venues need to be far more robust with their influencer due diligence; after all, I’ve still to find a client who would willingly give a hotel stay away for free without qualification and payback. It’s a very interesting time for the influencer economy and when Paul Stenson, the owner of the White Moose Café and Charleville Lodge Hotel in Dublin, sent a YouTube vlogger an invoice for €5,289,000 ‘for all the publicity it’s given her’; I for one said ‘hats off for kicking back’.
The influencer model is nothing new for the hospitality and events sector. Familiarisation (fam) visits are a long-established way of doing business with agents (intermediaries such as event planners or events agencies) invited, often at great cost, to experience a destination, venue or hotel. The invitee’s value is pre-determined by how much potential business they have. The ROI is measured on how much business is placed. It’s a costly old model and one that should be revised. If an agent can influence a budget then perhaps hotels and destinations should also start looking at the online value that an agent can bring:
• They all have a demonstrable £ multi-million revenue stream
• All agents have websites blogs, social platforms and newsletters
• The hospitality and events sector should consider this as part of their due diligence when they are planning a fam trip and in turn make sure a robust agreement is in place to guarantee imagery and commentary is achieved on the agent’s online platforms.
We’ve heard many horror stories of louche behaviour and even no shows, but it is the agent’s responsibility to have a forensic understanding of the hotels, venues and destinations they are promoting. It’s a captive, commercially viable and quantifiable audience of influencers. Hotels, venue and heritage attractions should capitalise on it rather than taking a punt on an influencer whose follower validity cannot be proven to drive revenue.
Using a highly respected ‘Top 50 agents’ report we have re-interpreted the report based on their social reach, and domain authority. It makes for interesting reading and is certainly a better way of qualifying the validity of business influencers.
Our industry is based on face to face relationships – isn’t it time we started to use these recognised and respected faces by seeking their online endorsements and not those of a potential bot?
If you’d like a copy of the report email firstname.lastname@example.org
Case Study: Historic Royal Palaces
• To drive awareness of the six venues under independent charity Historic Royal Palaces as luxury wedding destinations, with a showcase hosted at Kensington Palace
• Secure headline speakers to help drive innovative content
• Agree influencers and their part in driving awareness of the showcase
– Digital partnership agreed with Love My Dress (leading wedding blogger – Instagram following: 117k, Domain authority: 63/100*)
– Estimate Twitter reach of 80k+ from event hashtags #PickYourPalace and #HRPWeddingShowcase
– Key wedding planners invited and agreement on digital amplification expectations
– Speech by representatives from Harper’s Bazaar and Sotheby’s
*Authoritative sites are ranked at 40+
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew White is MD of Triggerfish Communications, a specialist in helping heritage venues and leisure attractions build awareness and market share in the business of events. www.triggerfish.co.uk