People often give me a quizzical look when I use the words “Travel Blogger” for my job description. They pause before saying “What is that?” You are not alone if this describes you; the majority of people I meet, even within the travel industry, are not familiar with the work of a travel blogger.
Travel bloggers were traditionally people who shared their travel experiences and observations via a blog on a website and increasingly, on Social Media. However, the scope of a travel blogger’s work has changed dramatically, and this will be elaborated later.
What are the differences between travel journalists and writers, and travel bloggers? Travel journalists and travel writers have the name of a publication behind them and they follow an editorial process. Travel writers usually impart their knowledge via a narrative or story, whereas travel journalists tend to be more factual.
The difference with travel bloggers is that they are personally known as a brand. This personal popularity occurs with travel writers too, though it is reserved for the most successful. The most significant difference is that travel bloggers provide real-time publicity of their travel experiences via Social Media.
Within the Middle East, the predominant bloggers are for food or fashion. Professional travel bloggers (those who make an income related to their blogging work) are a rare commodity not only within the Middle East but the entire MENA region. Bloggers can cover a wide variety of topics, but for companies in the travel industry, the most value is obtained for a blogger who specialises in travel.
Travel bloggers usually focus on a niche – such as family, food, luxury, or adventure travel. Some travel bloggers will provide a general travel overview without a specialisation. Regardless of whether they specialise or not, professional travel bloggers are experts in online travel marketing and publicity because travel is what they know best.
Working with travel bloggers is more than offering them free trips, free rooms or free meals. The most effective travel blogger-travel industry relationships are those long term business relationships where travel bloggers become a consultant and/or brand ambassador in a broader marketing strategy.
I mentioned earlier that a travel blogger’s traditional work has changed – nowadays, professional travel bloggers can possess not only writing, photography, videography, and Social Media skills. They now bring a broader range of skills to your travel company – including marketing campaigns (both online and elsewhere), website design, training, presentations, and leading tours. I’ve even had luxury hotels request my advice on how to improve the guest experience due to my extensive observations of similar hotels around the world.
There are many criteria for choosing the correct travel blogger to work with. Read through the content on their blogs and Social Media, does the content match your brand? Note their engagement levels and their followers – do they create a conversation? Most important is to find someone who has a passion for your brand. If they have the passion for what you do and your product, that passion comes through in their Social Media, writing, photographs and videos. This creates engaging and effective content which in turn, brings a better level of publicity and interaction, which attracts more clients.
Travel bloggers can create value for your brand, but as with any business relationship, it is a partnership that needs to be nurtured for it to blossom and thrive. It is only when this occurs that you will reap the biggest rewards and receive the maximum return on your investment.