Everyone likes a freebie and they don’t come much than better than a stay at a luxury resort, but the value of using social media influencers in this context may be limited to younger travellers and even then the resort may not benefit directly.

For upmarket hotels and resorts, the constant stream of self-professed influencers seeking a free holiday can be a particular pain point, especially for a business like COMO which doesn’t use paid media but relies on PR.

“We get requests from people who want to stay for two weeks, take some pictures and post them on social media,” Chris Orlikowski, COMO’s global director of PR, told the recent MRS Luxury Research Conference.

A research project aimed to ascertain if there was any return on investment in giving influencers a free room. (For more, read WARC’s report: Understanding the luxury traveller.)

RedC Research asked elite travellers in the UK and Ireland (defined as those spending at least £4,000 per person on their last trip) whether they followed any travel influencers on social media.

It found a distinct age divide as not a single one of the over-55s in its sample did so, but a third (34%) of the under-55s did.

Some older travellers (19%) did see posts from such influencers, however, as did a further 28% of younger travellers. Altogether, then, just 19% of the older group were exposed to travel influencers, compared to 62% of younger ones (rising to 75% among 16-34 year olds).

And when RedC asked how many people had visited somewhere in the previous two years as a result of such exposure, more than half (53%) of younger travellers said they had visited one destination while a quarter had been to two.

There was a caveat to these findings, however, in that such social media exposure seemed to work better for destinations than it did for hotels.

RedC’s take is that social media effectively operates as a filtering mechanism, with people attracted by amazing pictures they see on Instagram, before getting down to the detail of booking a holiday and checking blogs and review sites.

Sourced from WARC