Best Practices for Identifying and Evaluating Influencers

By Dan Wacksman, CHDM, CRME, CHBA, founder of Sassato LLC, and Holly Zoba, CHDM, founder of Scout Simply

Everything a digital marketer does should be for a reason — including using influencers, whose role has been complicated by the pandemic. Before you engage with an influencer, be clear in your goals for the partnership. Common goals for hotels working with influencers include the following:

  • Create awareness of the hotel with a new audience.
  • Create awareness of a new amenity (for example, a spa) or package (for example, a ski weekend) in a particular niche audience.
  • Grow your mailing list or social media followers from a particular audience.
  • Increase engagement on your social channels.
  • Sell more rooms, F&B, spa appointments, or weddings.

Once you have determined your goals, search for the right influencer(s) to help you accomplish them. Travel writers/bloggers are the most obvious influencers for hotels. While travel bloggers specifically target people interested in learning about hotels, destinations, restaurants, and attractions, bloggers with influence in other areas such as fashion, design, lifestyle, music, and art can also draw attention to your hotel if it caters to those audiences.

Hotels often receive requests from self-proclaimed influencers asking for a free stay in exchange for a post to their followers. Rather than settling for what comes to you, take a more targeted approach to finding the right influencers based on your goals and your target audience demographics.

To determine the fit and value of a particular influencer for your property, do the following:

  • Determine how many followers an influencer has on their blog, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and/or other digital platforms.
  • Monitor the influencer’s posts to ensure they are relevant to your brand and appropriate for your target audience. Attracting the wrong audience can have a negative impact on your online reputation, while consistently reaching the right audience greatly and economically improves awareness just where it can help your business the most.
  • Be sure the look and feel of the writing and graphics are a good fit for your company’s brand. Does the influencer already share content similar to your brand? How have past travel articles, videos, and posts been executed?
  • Determine the influencer’s connection to travel. Do they have a travel section in their online presence? If not, how will people find articles and videos about your hotel?

There are several tools — available for a fee — that will help you evaluate influencers. The most popular are Awario, Klear, Buzzsumo, HYPER, Buzzstream, and Traackr. Most of these tools are also social listening or social monitoring tools, and some enable you to build relationships directly with influencers from inside their app. You can also engage agencies to help with your influencer strategy, as most digital agencies have a specific PR/influence division committed solely to this function.

Excerpted from Hospitality Digital Marketing Essentials: A Field Guide for Navigating Today’s Digital Landscape, Sixth Edition, by Dan Wacksman, CHDM, CRME, CHBA, and Holly Zoba, CHDM — the study guide for the Certified Hospitality Digital Marketer (CHDM) certification, available soon from HSMAI.

Categories: Marketing, Digital, Internet & Social Media
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