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The changing face of travel media and rise of the blogger

iStock_000034138194_1000x666As the digital media revolution has gained full steam in the last 10 years we’ve witnessed the ‘rise of the blogger’ across many areas of interest but none more so than in the world of travel. Where once some key TV, newspaper and magazine travel editors dominated the travel media pack, along with some experienced freelance writers, today some of the most influential voices in travel are those armed with nothing more than a laptop and smartphone. By setting up their own travel blogs, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, some keen travellers are now earning their keep as influential voices in travel with large numbers of loyal followers. Often referred to by marketing types as ‘influencers’, these bloggers are now as much as anyone the place for keen travellers to get travel information, recommendations and hopefully, independent opinion. So what does this mean for your travel business? If you’re simply not engaging with them then you’re missing out on a golden opportunity to put your product in front of many prospective visitors. If you’re not engaging with them properly then you almost certainly won’t be maximizing the benefit. Be aware, some of the better bloggers have followings in their tens of thousands – more than many magazines – and their content is going to have greater longevity online and through their personal endorsement. Do your research on who the blogger is and in particular look for their numbers of followers on their various digital platforms and by all means request that of the blogger when dealing with them. They should be upfront about their follower numbers if they are serious. Also look for a good level of interaction from their followers by way of comments and shares. You may not be willing or able to support all requests but you need to treat them seriously and do your homework. If you’re going to host them, treat them as you would any media VIP and give them the best and most authentic experience possible. It will be reflected in their posts about their visit and also lead to you being referred to again by them in the future. Use your social media assets to thank them for visiting and share their stories about you to your own followers. Make sure you let them know what your social media accounts are in advance so they can be included in their posts. Many tourism businesses and regions are actively pursuing bloggers and dedicated Instagrammers as part of their PR programs and creating special opportunities for them. Some major familiarisation programs have been created in Queensland and around Australia providing perfect story and photo opportunities. Often renowned as Australia’s top travel bloggers are Caz and Craig Makepeace from yTravel Blog who are in the midst of a year long around Australia trip with their young family. Check them out and see how they’re setting the standard.