4.12 Sustainability & Effective Communication: Creators & Influencers Feature

You'll be able to learn more about why communities and purpose matter so much and how influencer marketing can help us achieve our goals by appealing to the interests of potential visitors.

Through this feature, you’ll be able to get an overview of how influencers and creators can help grow the visibility of your destination while spreading your message and purpose to achieve greater results

Through this feature, you’ll be able to get an overview of how influencers and creators can help grow the visibility of your destination while spreading your message and purpose to achieve greater results.

Key Takeaways:

  • Authenticity and a transparent relationship with your creators and their audiences build interest and new perspectives on what can be provided for your destination.
  • Content that is clear and presented engagingly is bound to gain traction when working with engaged and diverse creators.
  • Creating new experiences in light of diversifying requires us to be true to what is at the root of our authentic values of who we are as people, culture and society. This requires being inclusive and not designing authentic experiences but sharing real experiences.

Achieving Purposeful & Impactful Travel Through Influencers

Stockholm-based Lola Akinmade Åkerström is an award-winning author, speaker and photographer. Her work has appeared in National Geographic Traveller, the New York Times, Travel and Lonely Planet guides. Lola is also the editor of Slow Travel Stockholm, an online magazine dedicated to exploring Sweden’s capital city in depth.

In this interview, Nick speaks with Lola about a range of issues ranging from the Black Lives Matter movement, Lola's work as a photographer, author and entrepreneur and lastly why communities and purpose matter so much.

Lola starts by explaining that she feels that with Black Lives Matter she can finally breathe: it is something which has been a long time coming. It has meant for her that she doesn't need to keep justifying herself and for the world to draw attention to unconscious bias and speak up for it. Lola explains that having to work twice as hard to achieve the same as someone who isn't black is something that shouldn't be happening in this day in age and this moment of reckoning has been a long time coming. In particular in tourism, where we should be the most open and inclusive industry out there, we still see a lot of bias everywhere and this is something that really needs to change.

Diversity shouldn't be a bad word. It helps us enrich whatever we are doing with a more inclusive, broader view of the world around us.

If we take on board the experiences and views of many different cultures, we become stronger and have a broader perspective and have a bigger and more complete picture of a place, an experience or a brand. It's always important to diversify the storytellers who paint the picture of a place or destination.

To travel as a black woman means travelling from two perspectives. Travelling as yourself and travelling through the image that society has created for you, the burden of that image and the challenge in terms of how it shapes people's perspectives. Lola explains that it is an unfair burden, something that she would love the privilege of not carrying, but there are differences too as it can sometimes get you closer to a culture or a society as people can also invite you in where they feel closer or more aligned. The burden comes from trying to change society's narrative but Lola embraces the opportunities that come with it.

Looking at the pandemic, it has provided an opportunity for vendors to look at what's happening locally and reflect on how we can get to deeper storytelling around produce, culture, heritage and what is truly authentic in travel, transitioning away from superficial approaches to storytelling. The opportunities we have as storytellers to keep focused on the people, their culture and what makes them unique helps us keep their story alive. Now that we can travel again, the authenticity of people and their culture have become one of the driving forces of recovery.

Turning to the aspect of the community, Lola talks about a Nepalese homestay community where the women have empowered themselves to find additional sources of income by becoming hosts. It's a different way of looking at diversification and sustainability, whilst their husbands are away they host guests and make them part of their community. The internet and all the opportunities for strengthening and supporting each other as a community really come together.

Creating new diversified experiences requires us to be true to what is at the root of our authentic values of who we are as people, culture and society. It requires us to be inclusive and not to design "authentic experiences" but share real experiences. Speaking about Lola's own initiative to give back to local communities with her own startup, she talks about how important it is to think about the purpose and the impact we can create, through virtual guided tours, discovering experiences and cultures remotely and building connections digitally with real people wherever they are.

Closing off the interview, Lola responds to the move from Amazon to launch Amazon Experience. The guise of launching something which truly empowers local communities and has this at the core of its value system is thinly veiled, where clearly they are responding to what they see as a lucrative opportunity. She explains that being a global brand isn't a problem. Airbnb, for example, has always had this transparency and belief system in their DNA about creating real experiences between travellers and local citizens, whereas Amazon moving into the same field is a move born purely out of opportunism, and ultimately, a pivot that Lola believes consumers will reject.

The Role of Creators & Influencers Within Sustainability

Dominique reveals that during the pandemic, there was a 2.5x increase in engagement through social media platforms with a drastic shift in digital marketing, placing more importance on content creation and relating to an audience. Creator content is 2.1x more relatable than a branded post. This shows that connecting with creators is an incredibly powerful tool that engages with people in a completely different way compared to branded content.

Moving forward, marketers should expect new consumer behaviours and embrace them, creating new emotional connections while staying authentic to brand values, and empowering advocates in prioritising a community mindset.

The way consumers find your business has shifted as well, with digital word-of-mouth becoming a vital aspect of advertising your business/destination.

This is where influencer marketing comes in.

Influencers are evolving, and with a new wave of creators being introduced every year they learn and grow to a professional level completely independently. They are the first digital storytellers, publish across multiple platforms, commit to craft and quality, and provide an infinite pool of diverse voices that are authentic and truly represent the market while being storytellers.

As a global community, Whalar works with over 6,000 carefully selected influencers all over the world. These are people who are agile in their creation of world events with quick turnarounds and completely global reach who will spread reliable information in easily consumable, imaginative ways.

More than ever before we're seeing social media move around passion points such as sports, fashion or travel. Family bloggers for example focus on family-friendly experiences. Consider this for partner programmes, this allows for a wider scope of consideration when envisioning working with these creators whilst funnelling in on engaging with these more niche audiences.

This approach in marketing is not advertising for Dominique and her team. This is storytelling and aims to inspire consumers, rather than selling them a product directly. Working with content creators allows you to send this message at a scale, with more impact over the course of successful campaigns. Content creators are a personal insight behind the scenes of industry, and people want to see it.

90% of consumers trust peer recommendations over brands - Mediakix

Authenticity and creative freedom are the key drivers to success when utilising influencer culture. Successful brand content campaigns in 2017 were thanks to this, with 63.7% of respondents engaged, as well as 59.9% of respondents experiencing a high engagement rate. The personal touch is trusting, a point of relatability and showing you're open to their business through this common point of interest.

Then, Dominique discussed with renowned creators Melissa Legarda and Rich McCor the impact they've made alongside travel.

Melissa, a travel writer, talks about how her experiences are very embedded in travel, exploring her heritage and culture and getting a developed understanding of her background. She managed to grow her audience through Facebook groups when the online ecosystem was quite small in 2016, naturally growing since.

Rich, an artist and photographer, says his USP was seeing things differently. He presents destinations people are familiar with in his vision, through papercraft and photography. He keeps up with Instagram's innovations and instantly thinks of new ways of making use of the platform's changes.

Melissa has been allowed to work with travel businesses despite her relatively smaller following due to her unique experiences and emotional approach to storytelling. Micro-influencers like Melissa have a more approachable air to them than a larger creator, attracting an audience that specifically looks for authenticity.

Rich has recently produced more diverse content that provides a behind the scenes insight into his work, which naturally meshes with travel, showing off the destinations he works in. With positive feedback, he was motivated to show off his work with destinations to become more consistent with content.

The pandemic gave rise to new opportunities for the influencers, with Rich being invited back to destinations with the prospect of creating new art with the support of the destination.

Melissa, on the other hand, felt like it was less authentic to post about travel in a time when people couldn't go abroad. She faced the challenge of questioning her own voice and opinions, how would she produce authentic content that she is proud of whilst being faithful to her values? She believes in trust, that it's part of her duty as a travel blogger to showcase the places they are connected to and give a transparent, real perspective of that destination. It's part of her job to show what is safe to do and where you can do it.

Rich believes in the transparency between creator and audience as well, however, there is value in seeing the escapism in travel even within unpredictable circumstances such as the pandemic.

Dominique asked the two about their relationship with their respective audiences, and why they are some of the many influencers that have a particularly strong role in revitalising the travel industry post-pandemic.

Melissa explained that they are the current first point of contact through social media outlets. With such minimal social contact, during the pandemic people started looking to influencers for information that wasn't framed in the same way as traditional media outlets. A new perspective that is overall much more positive. Rich agreed, using his own personal experience when he was sharing the process of him taking a COVID-19 test and how engaged his audience was as an example. People wanted to know and wanted to see how things were for others.

Through this feature, you’ll be able to get an overview of how influencers and creators can help grow the visibility of your destination while spreading your message and purpose to achieve greater results

Through this feature, you’ll be able to get an overview of how influencers and creators can help grow the visibility of your destination while spreading your message and purpose to achieve greater results.

Key Takeaways:

  • Authenticity and a transparent relationship with your creators and their audiences build interest and new perspectives on what can be provided for your destination.
  • Content that is clear and presented engagingly is bound to gain traction when working with engaged and diverse creators.
  • Creating new experiences in light of diversifying requires us to be true to what is at the root of our authentic values of who we are as people, culture and society. This requires being inclusive and not designing authentic experiences but sharing real experiences.

Achieving Purposeful & Impactful Travel Through Influencers

Stockholm-based Lola Akinmade Åkerström is an award-winning author, speaker and photographer. Her work has appeared in National Geographic Traveller, the New York Times, Travel and Lonely Planet guides. Lola is also the editor of Slow Travel Stockholm, an online magazine dedicated to exploring Sweden’s capital city in depth.

In this interview, Nick speaks with Lola about a range of issues ranging from the Black Lives Matter movement, Lola's work as a photographer, author and entrepreneur and lastly why communities and purpose matter so much.

Lola starts by explaining that she feels that with Black Lives Matter she can finally breathe: it is something which has been a long time coming. It has meant for her that she doesn't need to keep justifying herself and for the world to draw attention to unconscious bias and speak up for it. Lola explains that having to work twice as hard to achieve the same as someone who isn't black is something that shouldn't be happening in this day in age and this moment of reckoning has been a long time coming. In particular in tourism, where we should be the most open and inclusive industry out there, we still see a lot of bias everywhere and this is something that really needs to change.

Diversity shouldn't be a bad word. It helps us enrich whatever we are doing with a more inclusive, broader view of the world around us.

If we take on board the experiences and views of many different cultures, we become stronger and have a broader perspective and have a bigger and more complete picture of a place, an experience or a brand. It's always important to diversify the storytellers who paint the picture of a place or destination.

To travel as a black woman means travelling from two perspectives. Travelling as yourself and travelling through the image that society has created for you, the burden of that image and the challenge in terms of how it shapes people's perspectives. Lola explains that it is an unfair burden, something that she would love the privilege of not carrying, but there are differences too as it can sometimes get you closer to a culture or a society as people can also invite you in where they feel closer or more aligned. The burden comes from trying to change society's narrative but Lola embraces the opportunities that come with it.

Looking at the pandemic, it has provided an opportunity for vendors to look at what's happening locally and reflect on how we can get to deeper storytelling around produce, culture, heritage and what is truly authentic in travel, transitioning away from superficial approaches to storytelling. The opportunities we have as storytellers to keep focused on the people, their culture and what makes them unique helps us keep their story alive. Now that we can travel again, the authenticity of people and their culture have become one of the driving forces of recovery.

Turning to the aspect of the community, Lola talks about a Nepalese homestay community where the women have empowered themselves to find additional sources of income by becoming hosts. It's a different way of looking at diversification and sustainability, whilst their husbands are away they host guests and make them part of their community. The internet and all the opportunities for strengthening and supporting each other as a community really come together.

Creating new diversified experiences requires us to be true to what is at the root of our authentic values of who we are as people, culture and society. It requires us to be inclusive and not to design "authentic experiences" but share real experiences. Speaking about Lola's own initiative to give back to local communities with her own startup, she talks about how important it is to think about the purpose and the impact we can create, through virtual guided tours, discovering experiences and cultures remotely and building connections digitally with real people wherever they are.

Closing off the interview, Lola responds to the move from Amazon to launch Amazon Experience. The guise of launching something which truly empowers local communities and has this at the core of its value system is thinly veiled, where clearly they are responding to what they see as a lucrative opportunity. She explains that being a global brand isn't a problem. Airbnb, for example, has always had this transparency and belief system in their DNA about creating real experiences between travellers and local citizens, whereas Amazon moving into the same field is a move born purely out of opportunism, and ultimately, a pivot that Lola believes consumers will reject.

The Role of Creators & Influencers Within Sustainability

Dominique reveals that during the pandemic, there was a 2.5x increase in engagement through social media platforms with a drastic shift in digital marketing, placing more importance on content creation and relating to an audience. Creator content is 2.1x more relatable than a branded post. This shows that connecting with creators is an incredibly powerful tool that engages with people in a completely different way compared to branded content.

Moving forward, marketers should expect new consumer behaviours and embrace them, creating new emotional connections while staying authentic to brand values, and empowering advocates in prioritising a community mindset.

The way consumers find your business has shifted as well, with digital word-of-mouth becoming a vital aspect of advertising your business/destination.

This is where influencer marketing comes in.

Influencers are evolving, and with a new wave of creators being introduced every year they learn and grow to a professional level completely independently. They are the first digital storytellers, publish across multiple platforms, commit to craft and quality, and provide an infinite pool of diverse voices that are authentic and truly represent the market while being storytellers.

As a global community, Whalar works with over 6,000 carefully selected influencers all over the world. These are people who are agile in their creation of world events with quick turnarounds and completely global reach who will spread reliable information in easily consumable, imaginative ways.

More than ever before we're seeing social media move around passion points such as sports, fashion or travel. Family bloggers for example focus on family-friendly experiences. Consider this for partner programmes, this allows for a wider scope of consideration when envisioning working with these creators whilst funnelling in on engaging with these more niche audiences.

This approach in marketing is not advertising for Dominique and her team. This is storytelling and aims to inspire consumers, rather than selling them a product directly. Working with content creators allows you to send this message at a scale, with more impact over the course of successful campaigns. Content creators are a personal insight behind the scenes of industry, and people want to see it.

90% of consumers trust peer recommendations over brands - Mediakix

Authenticity and creative freedom are the key drivers to success when utilising influencer culture. Successful brand content campaigns in 2017 were thanks to this, with 63.7% of respondents engaged, as well as 59.9% of respondents experiencing a high engagement rate. The personal touch is trusting, a point of relatability and showing you're open to their business through this common point of interest.

Then, Dominique discussed with renowned creators Melissa Legarda and Rich McCor the impact they've made alongside travel.

Melissa, a travel writer, talks about how her experiences are very embedded in travel, exploring her heritage and culture and getting a developed understanding of her background. She managed to grow her audience through Facebook groups when the online ecosystem was quite small in 2016, naturally growing since.

Rich, an artist and photographer, says his USP was seeing things differently. He presents destinations people are familiar with in his vision, through papercraft and photography. He keeps up with Instagram's innovations and instantly thinks of new ways of making use of the platform's changes.

Melissa has been allowed to work with travel businesses despite her relatively smaller following due to her unique experiences and emotional approach to storytelling. Micro-influencers like Melissa have a more approachable air to them than a larger creator, attracting an audience that specifically looks for authenticity.

Rich has recently produced more diverse content that provides a behind the scenes insight into his work, which naturally meshes with travel, showing off the destinations he works in. With positive feedback, he was motivated to show off his work with destinations to become more consistent with content.

The pandemic gave rise to new opportunities for the influencers, with Rich being invited back to destinations with the prospect of creating new art with the support of the destination.

Melissa, on the other hand, felt like it was less authentic to post about travel in a time when people couldn't go abroad. She faced the challenge of questioning her own voice and opinions, how would she produce authentic content that she is proud of whilst being faithful to her values? She believes in trust, that it's part of her duty as a travel blogger to showcase the places they are connected to and give a transparent, real perspective of that destination. It's part of her job to show what is safe to do and where you can do it.

Rich believes in the transparency between creator and audience as well, however, there is value in seeing the escapism in travel even within unpredictable circumstances such as the pandemic.

Dominique asked the two about their relationship with their respective audiences, and why they are some of the many influencers that have a particularly strong role in revitalising the travel industry post-pandemic.

Melissa explained that they are the current first point of contact through social media outlets. With such minimal social contact, during the pandemic people started looking to influencers for information that wasn't framed in the same way as traditional media outlets. A new perspective that is overall much more positive. Rich agreed, using his own personal experience when he was sharing the process of him taking a COVID-19 test and how engaged his audience was as an example. People wanted to know and wanted to see how things were for others.