TRAVEL INFLUENCERS, The Like Industry Game Changers





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TRAVEL INFLUENCERS, The Like Industry Game Changers We travel with them. We enjoy their antics, laugh and follow their every step. Even when we don't agree with their reflections, we listen to them and reward them with a heart on Instagram, a like on Youtube and Facebook, and, in the biggest of cases, we book just that destination or buy the product they told us about and told us about even the most insignificant thing. Influencers are there, inevitably capturing our glances from the screens of cell phones, tablets, computers and even televisions, because the networks interview them, turn them into news and broadcast novels or series based on their world of posts and postures. Even children want to be like them. My three-year-old nephew has favorite youtubers that set consumer trends among millions of parents around the world (including my sister): Vlad and Niki, with 87.8 million subscribers is a Russian-american channel promoting toys; and Ryans Word, with more than 30 million has the same cut but is broadcast from Los Angeles. For those of us who spend long hours connected to the Internet and with accounts in different social networks, it is almost impossible to avoid them. They are part of the web of algorithms that allow large companies to put before our eyes their products based on what we are looking for, in what form, at what time and when we want it. A few days ago, during a headline-grabbing gala, Forbes Magazine named the 75 winners of the "Forbes Best Influencers 2022" awards. The networks to be covered were very diverse (Instagram, Youtube, Twich, Tiktok, Linkedin... ) and the main selection criteria was to influence in some way the leisure and consumption habits of their followers. "The rules of the game have changed radically when it comes to building a brand," indicated Forbes in its editorial, where it also recognizes that they have become a decisive profile within the old scheme issuer-content-audiences. The first 10 places of the Forbes Best Influencers 2022 were taken in the category of Best Digital Entrepreneur by the Spanish María Pombo, with 2.8 million followers on Instagram; while in Fashion is Marta Sierra, who was the first content creator to appear in Zara and whose Instagram accumulates more than one million followers. In Lifestyle the laurels went to Marta Díaz, well known in Spain, perhaps because of her more than 10 million followers among all her social networks; in Creativity Jordi Koalitic was awarded with his almost 20 million followers on Tik Tok; and in Technology Jaume Lahoz and Carlos Santa Engracia (Topes de Gama) won, with almost three and a half million subscribers on Youtube. The other five categories were Positive Change for Melo Moreno, one of the people who started Youtube's explosion in Spain; Business for Jordi Alemany (with more than 125 000 on Linkedin), Beauty & Makeup for Marta Ratolina (428 000 on Instagram), Travel for Gotzon Mantuliz and his canine companion Noa (660 000 on Instagram) and Best Influencer 2022 for Aída Domeneq (Dulceida), with more than 15 years showing her life on social networks (3 million on Instagram). THE RULES OF THE GAME Research conducted by Fundación Telefónica, Spain, shows that Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996, ages 23 to 38) and Gen Z (from 1997, under 22) like to travel and do so all year round, prefer different accommodations and tend to choose destinations that offer virtual reality experiences. To reach this conclusion, more than 12,000 members of these generations from 27 countries in Latin America, the U.S., Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East/africa were surveyed. As a result, other data reveals that 76% believe in the potential of technology and consider it "very important" to their future success, while 40% say they "can't live without their smartphone". Their aspirations include becoming entrepreneurs in their own country or developing and introducing an idea to the market (68%). Influencers create quality content, especially for this type of market, which consumes topics such as tourism, travel, technology or culture all the time on high-traffic platforms. Although some experts insist that it is not necessary to have a large number of followers to be an influencer, the reality is different: the less people follow you, the less you are seen. It matters, and a lot, the number of followers, subscribers, views, organic/paid reach, domain authority and SEO optimization for the positioning of the message. To make money, they often partner with travel agencies, airlines, local businesses and tourism companies. It also helps if, from time to time, some other reputable account mentions you. There is a very interesting scientific research, named Are influencers losing their credibility, by the Spanish Helena García Fortuny, specialist in Marketing and Commercial Management, who answers that question with the statement that "yes, they are progressively losing it"; but this does not mean that they are no longer attractive for brands, as they are still a powerful speaker to launch messages and reach potential consumers in a closer and more direct way. The video format is that it generates greater credibility on Instagram, far above the others allowed on the platform such as photography or text, he explains. Now, it would be unfair to tell you to believe everything they say. As so many media outlets warn, when an influencer says "I got a discount", it is most likely that he or she has signed with a brand... and not that the product is necessarily good. However, as García Fortuny points out, when the product to which the message refers is perceived as something the consumer really needs, the message will be listened to with greater interest and acceptance. The same happens when he shows what he has bought new, or what he has been given as a gift, since on many occasions he probably had not even thought of spending on that item. But, even so, what the influencer says will be assumed to be closer to the consumer than what the brand says. García Fortuny adds that the fact that behind the recommendation there is an economic remuneration does not affect its degree of credibility, since the economic value of the product is a key factor in the decision-making process.