The internet offers the hospitality industry a revolutionary distribution platform, allowing all vacation rentals to reach their guests directly. But it is a huge platform of information. As influence is a matter of “perceived” authority, showing expertise allows professionals to build trust and become a reference.
Vacation rentals can get inspiration from some of the following e-tourism influencers:
Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)
The influence that OTAs exert on vacation professionals is first and foremost economical. It is true that online distribution channels repeatedly have critics on their commercial strategy, especially regarding the money they spend on keywords and Google AdWords, as well as the informal agreements they have with other online intermediaries, such as online review platforms. The biggest travel brand in Google AdWord spending is Booking.com, which spent $40.4 million in Google AdWords for the year 2011.
However, OTAs’ bad image towards hospitality professionals is balanced by their popularity towards holidaymakers. The best example is the peer-to-peer booking channel Airbnb that has succeeded in generating holiday trends and lifestyles, especially through Instagram users. Airbnb masters the art of becoming viral on social media by publishing original trip and accommodation ideas, and has even become a topic of high interest for marketing observers. The “fashionable” OTA has also created a new marketing tool for the most experienced hospitality rentals to be awarded: the Superhost Badge. In other words, it is a new way of convincing small rentals to use the service and search for professional recognition.
After all, vacation rentals cannot miss out the opportunity of increasing their revenue by integrating OTAs in their communication strategy even more so because they remain the hospitality industry think tanks worldwide.
Travel and Vacation Rental Blogs
Vacation professionals share their expertise and skills through articles they can publish on their own website’s blog. Professional blogging concerns the online publications from other vacation rentals, channel managers, vacation rental marketing blogs and travel guides on social media. Some of the most respected e-influencers of the industry, such as Matt Landau, Thibaud Masson and Jasper Ribbers, have understood the interest of sharing information for all professionals: they create a community gathered by the same will of offering the best services to their peers.
Travel and Tourism Experts
Specialised websites also play their part as they contribute to nurturing our content marketing materials with accurate figures, statistics and analysis on the industry. Vacation rentals and other hospitality professionals can enrich their own contributions and position themselves within the industry thanks to the studies and facts regularly published by research authorities like PhocusWright. Being informed allows hospitality professionals to anticipate the international tourism policies and trends. Such information can also be provided directly by worldwide governmental organisations, such as UNTWO but small rentals should rather diversify their sources in order to get the most possible independent picture of the industry.
Groups of Guests/Users
Finally, people can exert as much influence as states when it comes to opinions and reviews. Review websites offer users and guests the opportunity to share their experience and balance hospitality rentals’ marketing speech on their services. In this way, they certainly influence the way guests chose their hotel. However, even though the quality of the reviews you can find on Expedia or Tripadvisor can be questioned, people look carefully for their peers’ experience.
Particularly present on social media and blogs, or even in the booking process, e-influencers have an economical influence, but above all, they design the image of the industry. The diversity of viewpoints allows vacation professionals to better comprehend the industry’s context. Even though there exists a risk of relaying the same information, from the same sources, the benefit of integrating the influencers in vacation rentals’ online marketing strategy remains the best way to gain visibility… and eventually become influencer as well.