The Travel Influencer: The First Research of Its Kind

travel influencer

The travel influencer is a relatively new concept. Organisations are turning to us influencers more and more as a result of our ‘trustworthy’ relationship with their [potential] customers. They want us to market their products and promote their services. They want us to help them make money.

In the past decade the number of travel influencers has exploded. Kids are making YouTube videos about their visit to the theme park, twenty-somethings are blogging about their gap year and parents are writing reviews about the best baby carrier. But how much do we really know about these travel influencers?

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Hayley Stainton. I am a University Lecturer teaching tourism and aviation management. I am also a travel blogger and influencer (for more about me, visit my about me page). Recently, something struck me about the world of blogging and influencing- there has been no credible research into this area. So I set out to change this…

travel influencer

The travel influencer: The research

I have been contacted on a number of occasions by companies requesting a ‘do-follow’ link or a Tweet as a gesture of goodwill or in exchange for a product review or maybe even some money. But how much is this worth? What should I charge? What do other people charge for this kind of thing? I turned to the Internet for answers, but found little guidance.

So the academic in me decided to take on a new project. Working with a colleague from Sheffield Hallam University, we have been working on this now for over a year. I am now in a position to share with you some of my key findings, which are listed below. You can also download a full copy of the report here.  

The travel influencer research: The key findings

See below the key findings resulting from the research. I will publish a more detailed post about each area over the coming weeks. Once these are live there will be a hyperlink added.

1-Most people define themselves as a travel influencer, but not everyone

Clearly some clarity about what exactly a ‘travel influencer’ is is needed. I propose a definition with a detailed explanation of what a travel influencer is in this post- ‘What is a Travel Influencer? Travel influencer Defined’

2- Most people use their blog, Facebook and Twitter to influence

These are the most popular social media platforms amongst travel influencers, although this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the best! The average number of is 4500 on Facebook and 10,400 on Twitter.

3- Most people are amateurs on social media

There are only a few ‘elite’ travel influencers who have a significantly larger social media following than most. This typically represents 2-5% of travel influencers.

4- Most people update their blog/website at least once a week

If you want to become a travel influencer you need to be motivated to publish at least one post each week to keep up with other influencers in your area.

6- Most people update Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest more than twice a week

These are the most popular social media platforms that are updated regular by travel influencers.

7- Snapchat, YouTube, Google+, Linkedin and Tumblr are rarely updated

Many of us have these social media accounts, but we don’t use them regularly.

8- Most people do not pay to increase the reach of their social media posts

You know when Facebook repeatedly e-mails you about promoting your post? Yep, well that’s because most of us aren’t doing it.

9- The average amount spent on social media promotion is £37

When we do promote our posts, we don’t spend a lot.

10- Most influencers do not purchase followers, likes etc, but they do take part in ‘like for like’ threads or similar mutual exchange activities

You’ve probably heard the debate about ‘buying’ followers. Well, it turns out that most of us are not doing that (or at least we are not admitting that we do it).

11- The majority of respondents write reviews in exchange for a free item or service

Reviews are very popular and can save you lots of money in the long run!

12-Almost half of influencers charge for do-follow links at an average of £190

Despite the regular e-mails that I get asking me to add a ‘do-follow’ link into a blog post (usually for very little money or for free), it seems that most travel influencers are not succumbing to this. You can read more about what influencers are charging for ‘do-follow’ links here

13- The average DA score is 26

Wondering if your score needs improving? Now you know where you st compared to the average travel influencer.

14- The higher the DA score, the more influencers charge for a do-follow link

I think this is pretty obvious, but important to prove nonetheless.

15- The majority of travel influencers work with marketing agencies

Marketing agencies can be great at sending regular work your way. It appears that most of us are involved with marketing agencies one way or another.

16- The majority of travel influencers do label when their content has been gifted/sponsored

This has been in the media a bit lately. Despite claims though, it seems that most of us are doing what we are told.

17- Most travel influencers do it because they enjoy it

It’s the best kind of work isn’t it, the kind you enjoy?

18- Most travel influencers are part-time

Most of us have another job or work part time hours.

19- Most travel influencers have worked in the area of or studied marketing

Seen as there are inextricable links between marketing and influencing, it seems to be of benefit to have studied or worked in marketing. Lots of travel influencers actually work in marketing alongside influencing.

20- Monthly income ranges from £0-£30,000 per month, with an average travel influencer income of £1100

There is a huge range between the highest and the lowest salaries and surprisingly there is no correlation between part time and full time. In fact, the highest paid travel influencers identified themselves as part time workers!

21- Male influencers earn 6x more than female influencers

This is perhaps representative of society, but a disappointing figure nonetheless. Lets hope the gender gay decreases in years to come…

22- Most travel influencers are women

Working from home part time while looking after the kids? Why not become a travel influencer?

23- The average age of a travel influencer is 34

Does this mean I’m a young travel influencer (I’m 31)? 😉

24- The majority of travel influencers are European or American

Yep, it’s pretty trendy to be a travel influencer in Europe or America right now.

So that was a super quick snapshot of my results. For a detailed look at the figures and how I have come to these main findings, feel free to download a copy of the full report. Don’t worry, I’ve cut out all of the academic jargon- I’m saving that for Annals of Tourism! I hope you enjoy reading through the findings and please do let me know if you have any further questions- drop your comments below or send me an e-mail.