Richard Taylor is Founder of The Travel Community Hub. This is one of many letters received in response to an opinion piece titled ‘Why the travel industry should cancel influencers’ published in TravelBulletin earlier this week. Read the original article by Myles Stedman HERE.
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What an interesting take by Myles on our industry’s future relationship with ‘influencers’.
I want to tell you a story. In May of last year I was fortunate to visit Vietnam with Bamboo Airways, and travelling on that trip, one of the first to the country as it re-opened, was a really eclectic mix of people that included agents, travel writers, tour operators, events people….and one guy who was an ‘influencer’.
Now, I know what you’re thinking here – that group sounds like a recipe for disaster. Writers would want to go off the beaten track to find their unique angles, agents would be focused squarely on product they could sell, the influencer would be an outcast, and so on.
And whilst it did have the makings of an excellent reality TV show, I have to disappoint you by telling you that the rival factions got along famously. There was one afternoon in Quy Nhon where the writers wanted to disappear searching for content and the agents preferred to inspect a particular hotel, but by and large it was smooth sailing.
But we were all suspicious of the influencer!
When I’d heard that one of these strange, mythical creatures would be travelling with us my mind conjured up images of a group misfit who’d be purely out for themselves, elbowing their way to the front at landmarks, taking an hour to create a somewhat vulgar ‘perfect shot’, that kind of thing.
Well, I’m very happy to admit that I couldn’t have been more wrong. The guy, Nicholas Effendi, works a regular job whilst operating ‘Nick and Helmi’, a YouTube channel with his wife that’s dedicated to the pleasures of eating.
And let me tell you something, Nick worked harder than anybody on the tour, by a factor of at least four. While the group were ambling around Hanoi he was out recording himself trying local soups. While the group was chatting in the hotel bar Nick was perched on the roof shooting drone footage. While the group…well, you get the idea. And so it continued. On every day of the trip.
After a whirlwind week I came away with enormous respect for what he’d achieved. One of the videos he made is HERE if you’re interested.
That week in Vietnam was a slap on the wrist for me, a lesson in not tarring everybody with the same brush.
Sure there are less desirable influencers out there, but if, together as an industry, we identified and got behind those that travel responsibly while promoting what we offer to new audiences of potential travellers, that would surely be a good thing.
I’d love to hear commentary from people in marketing who work with some of the better ones.
And before we dismiss influencers, let’s not forget that our industry desperately needs new people. If influencers are what it takes to reach them, let’s embrace that by finding some ‘industry influencers’ who can show their peers some of the highlights of a career in travel.