At this year’s Go2Balkans conference my team and I had the incredible opportunity to give a little speech and help our audience understand what a travel blogger is and how to gain as much as possible from the cooperation with one.
As a travel blogger myself, I find this topic fascinating and thus decided it is time to serve the information to you, our so-loved readers.
What’s a travel blogger and what drives them?
As every new profession out there, travel bloggers are often misunderstood or even looked down upon. Thousands of people around the world are already practicing this profession – some very successfully, some less, and others just as a hobby. But why? Why do we do something that may get us frowned upon and that we are rarely (if at all) paid for? Why do we spend hours putting together the perfect article and editing pictures, when 98% of us are not even paid for that?
Here’s the answer: because we love doing it. It’s a passion, and passion doesn’t need justifying. We’re madly in love with travel and happen to consider it the best medicine for any heartache. We are here to inspire and this desire is helping us justify our own existence. In a way, we’re all much like Steve Jobs: we are here to make the world a better place.
What do travel bloggers sell?
We “sell” the best product ever: dreams. We describe our own experiences to help others picture themselves living it. We write to help people travel more. You may call us pathfinders. Through our descriptions many readers embrace travel fearlessly, as we manage to answer the question they have. And this is why you want to partner with us – because we can make your business part of the dream. Because a hotel, an attraction, a restaurant – this is merely a product. And products are best sold when you manage to tackle that inner need of your potential client and solve his problem or make his dreams come true. We can do that.
There are other reasons to work with travel bloggers which we’ll talk about another time. If you’re already convinced, however, let’s move on to the next steps, i.e. how to work best with travel bloggers and get the maximum out of this cooperation.
1. Decide what results you’re looking for.
Just like with anything else in life, unless you know exactly where you’re going, you’ll probably get lost. So, prior to contacting a travel blogger make sure you are fully aware what you want from them. It can be something broad, such as more likes on your Facebook page, better brand recognition or even to simply get the word out. You can also go more specific and aim to spread the word about a certain experience you offer or a specific product.
2. Choose the right travel blogger.
As mentioned above, there are thousands of travel bloggers out there. Some label themselves as budget bloggers, others as luxury, adventure, couples, family, elderly – you name it. It’s easy to choose: whatever your target customers are, this is the type of blogger you need. Plus, it’s logical – it would be rather meaningless to advertise the ultimate party destination on a family travel blog, or a mountain chalet on a luxury blog, right?
3. Send the proper invitation.
I cannot emphasize enough on this, but travel bloggers are not media agencies, so you cannot be confident that they’ll say “yes”. They have their own plans and visions for the development of their blogs and no, they’re not merely free-experience-junkies that will go for whatever is offered. So, when you send an invite you have to make sure that:
- it is respectful;
- you explain why you’d like to work with the person;
- you describe your goals;
- you clearly layout what you’re offering.
4. Create the right schedule.
One of the best ways to work with travel bloggers is undoubtedly to have them visit your hotel/restaurant/attraction and describe it on their blogs. When the blogger is about to arrive, however, you need to make sure you have an appropriate schedule. To make one, it’s great to know what the blogger is into. If you see them writing a lot about museums, send them to one. If you see them writing about nature, then take them on a walk in the forest or show them something incredible in the area.
Whatever you choose to do, you must have in mind that the travel blogger will need more time than any other person (except a photographer). Sometimes we end up sitting on a cliff for an hour just waiting for the perfect sky to get the shot right. Or we may find something incredibly interesting and need 20 extra minutes to study it. The point is – we cannot rush through places, so make sure your schedule matches this requirement.
5. Leave them some time alone.
Speaking of schedule, a key thing to remember is to leave the blogger some time alone. As incredible as your schedule is, you don’t want to exhaust the person and have him/her feel miserable. From a press trip of 2 days for example at least one afternoon needs to be free. If the press trip is 3 days – 1 on the days needs to be free. If you’re having them visit for 4+ days, only occupy their time for 3 days tops. And don’t worry that they won’t get the job done: having an interesting content is probably more important to the blogger than it is to you.
6. Don’t tell them what to write about.
Blogging is a creative process and bloggers are creative individuals. They spend hours every day studying the reactions of their audience so they can serve more relevant content which engages people. If you try to be controlling and interfere with this process you can only lose. So, if there’s anything you’d like to emphasize on, share it with your blogger of choice, but let them handle the structure of the post – trust is the foundation of a good cooperation with bloggers.
7. Be active on social media.
This isn’t only valid when you have a blogger around – social media can make you or brake you, so you better be active, reply questions, and interact with your existing or potential customers. But when you have a blogger around and they’re sharing pictures and impression from your service and you don’t re-share it, this is like pouring champagne out the window instead of drinking it – it’s still a form of “usage” of that champagne, only without any actual benefit.