Today’s internet audience is likely familiar with the birth of the common travel blog: an individual becomes anxious to explore the world outside of his or her 9 to 5, cubical career and drops all convention in favor of traveling the world and writing about the experience. In fact, this story is likely to become even more prevalent; it is estimated that between 2011 and 2014, the number of blogging individuals rose 31%. Regardless of this growing supply, there is equal demand from readers grasping at the stories and photos that bloggers have to share, and this audience continues to grow. What was once considered a hobby or a way for an individual to share experiences with friends and family is now a full-blown authoritative medium in the realms of travel, art, journalism, education, and business, among others. Relevant travel companies, large or small, would be careless to ignore the potential that these bloggers present towards their goals.
Blogs Build Trust
While many travel companies have cleverly created their own blogs in order to interact with new audiences, full time travel bloggers have something that these companies normally do not – a different set of eyes and ears with the time dedicated to experience those worldly subjects firsthand, taking down observations along the way. According to SearchEnginePeople.com, blogs are the 5th most trusted source for online information. Take that insight augmented by the fact that travel bloggers are writing first-person accounts of their particular experiences and you have a relationship between blogger and reader that is difficult for any associated enterprise to replicate. Dave and Deb, the travel blogging geniuses behind ThePlanetD.com, describe this difference, “Travel bloggers have a lot to offer brands. We lend a human voice to the corporate entity and bring in a new audience to their product or destination.”
More than Just a Travelogue
Maintaining a blog may only incur a business the cost of the time it takes to do the job, but the perspective of any one staff writer is bound to give the blog a nearsighted view. Having access to original photos and anecdotes to feature on a company blog is precious and difficult to attain, fortunately there is an army of inquisitive travel bloggers working every day to share these things with travel companies. What’s more, the power of bloggers doesn’t stop at their domain names; they also wield the influence of social media and may have strength in areas that many companies lack. Nelson Carvalheiro, a seasoned blogger via NelsonCarvalheiro.com, expands on the subject saying, “Travel bloggers can and must offer much more than direct influence and access to their communities for the brands that they work with. They are digital experts and can help travel brands make their digital communication strategies more relevant to their own communities.”
Blogger to Business Relationships
This past spring, my colleague and I had the privilege of attending the Travel Blogger Exchange (TBEX) Conference in Spain. During the event, we met so many talented, enthusiastic, and intelligent bloggers working in the travel sphere. Some of these bloggers have been honing their craft for years, cultivating enormous followings and finding new ways to excite and inspire readers. Many of the bloggers that we met have a definitive brand – in fact, in most cases, the blogger is the brand. They have audiences from all over the world, including every demographic. The most telling observation that I noted after speaking with these bloggers is their eagerness to work with travel brands and help those brands tap into their travel blogs’ audiences. But it doesn’t stop there — they want to create long-lasting relationships with these companies rather than constantly shuffle between off-handed freelance opportunities. They want to align brands, thereby creating a symbiotic relationship that their readers and a business’ customers will both benefit from. “There needs to be trust and belief on each side,” Dave and Deb explain, “It is all about having a willingness to collaborate and discuss the needs of each other.”
Travel blogging is consistently on the rise, so in order to stay relevant in the industry, I would advise corporations to get to know more travel bloggers. Read their work, talk to them about their brands, and include them in ideas. They are a wealth of personalized travel knowledge and many brands will benefit from this fast-track connection to the most relevant audience available. Besides, having travel-savvy friends across the globe never hurts!