Most Effective Influencer Strategies to Drive Sustainable Travel and Tourism
The global tourism industry has rebounded after the Covid-19 pandemic. Priorities have changed. Remember when it was all about finding affordable travel options? Well, now we've taken it up a notch. Travelers are all about that eco-conscious life. Influencer marketing can help you swoop in and snag those eco-conscious vacationers.
Recognizing how influencers can share their experiences of traveling responsibly, giving shout-outs to your brand's ecotourism efforts, and inspiring their followers to do the same is what you need to do to make your brand's sustainable travel and tourism initiative visible.
Now, if you are wondering whom to collaborate with for the campaign, we've got a whole array of creative minds here. Think nano-gaming influencers, dancers, writers, fashion bloggers, and more. These influencers are teaming up with eco-friendly travel companies to talk about their efforts towards a greener future. To help you better understand, we have spoken of five examples, from a cruise company to a hotel chain, an eco-friendly lodge, a travel company and a booking website, to highlight multiple ways of running influencer campaigns this World Environment Day.
Let us dive in!
How influencers can drive massive engagement for sustainable travel and tourism brands
The recent awareness about climate change, deforestation, and pollution have had a major impact on the travel and tourism sector. People these days aren't just looking for any old travel experience. But they want something that aligns with their values and doesn't harm the environment. So, it's no surprise that global travelers rally behind businesses prioritizing eco-friendly practices. They want to support those who share their love for Mother Earth.
According to the UN report "A Net Zero Roadmap for Travel and Tourism," over 83% of global travelers consider sustainable travel vital. Additionally, 69% of global travelers expect the travel industry to offer more sustainable options, whereas nearly 61% express a desire to travel more sustainably in the future due to the impact of the pandemic.
Considering this, it makes it more important for you to highlight sustainability efforts. Particularly, when you cater to five major industries within the travel and tourism sector - accommodations, tour operators, aviation, cruise, and travel agencies - having different carbon emission profiles. According to the "Carbon Footprint of Global Tourism" report (2018), transportation is responsible for nearly 49% of carbon emissions. Retail takes up 12%, food and beverage services account for 10%, and accommodations contribute around 6%.
If you fall under any of these industries, your efforts towards sustainable travel and tourism aren't just good for the planet but also great for the business. You can build a positive image and reputation by going green and showing you care about the environment. It leads to customer loyalty and some seriously positive word-of-mouth recommendations.
Role of Influencers : Call them advocates, educators and catalysts - influencers can significantly promote your sustainable tourism efforts. When influencers promote sustainable travel, their recommendations carry weight and influence. Their reach and ability to engage large audiences come with multiple benefits:
- Influencers can effectively communicate your sustainability efforts and initiatives. When influencers partner with eco-conscious brands, they can showcase your experiences and services and raise awareness about your commitment to responsible travel. By highlighting eco-friendly practices such as reducing plastic waste, supporting local communities and conserving natural resources, they educate their followers about the importance of responsible and sustainable travel.
- Influencers feature eco-friendly destinations that align with the values of sustainable tourism. By sharing information about eco-lodges, national parks and initiatives focused on environmental preservation, influencers can create awareness and encourage their followers to consider such destinations for future travels.
- Influencers support targeted marketing and let you reach a niche audience. For instance, some influencers may focus on eco-luxury travel, adventure travel, or family-friendly sustainable trips. By partnering with influencers in these niches, travel brands can reach their target audience more effectively and connect more deeply with potential customers.
- Influencers share their own experience so they can provide practical tips and guidance on how to plan eco-friendly trips. They encourage responsible travel behavior among their followers by sharing real experiences. Through collaboration with the brand, they can amplify your sustainability campaigns. Ultimately, leading to visibility and brand recognition that can attract eco-conscious travelers.
5 Travel and tourism campaign ideas to kickstart your sustainable influencer marketing efforts
1. Leverage-nano gaming influencers to target younger demographics
Gen Zers and millennials are at the forefront of promoting sustainable travel and tourism. According to Audrey Hendley, president of American Express Travel, about 82% of the younger generations choose eco-conscious traveling. People aged 40 years and below care about their impact on the planet and demand sustainable travel options, making them an ideal audience segment for eco-friendly travel companies.
And the best way to engage them. Nano gaming influencers! These small-scale game streamers (with 1k-10k followers) create fun and authentic content, engaging a like-minded community and developing genuine connections. Nano gaming influencers are a golden ticket for you to boost your travel marketing campaigns. Royal Caribbean’s Hide ‘N’ Sea game on Fortnite is an excellent example of using nano gaming influencers to promote sustainable travel and tourism.
Example: Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean International is a Norway-based cruise line promoting eco-conscious vacations. It is one of the world's largest cruise companies making real efforts to conserve marine life, reduce emissions, and manage waste. The cruise company relies on user-generated content to promote its services. But now they have forayed into the metaverse to reach the younger minds.
The Royal Caribbean International has partnered with Fortnite, the leading metaverse gaming platform, to create its own game—Hide 'N' Sea. It will feature Icon of the Seas, one of the largest cruise ships in the world and that too with sustainable features like environmentally friendly designs and reduced emissions. The ship is likely to start its services in January 2024.
So, before the launch, Royal Caribbean launched the game a year ahead in 2023 to target the younger demographic for promoting their new ship. By partnering with nano gaming influencers, like Bonsai Broz and Cruising with JT, to develop engaging and entertaining content that showcases the cruise company's sustainable efforts. Influencers foster discussions and encourage their followers to participate in eco-conscious conversations. These content creators use live streams and short videos to engage the target audience and build excitement around the cruise launch.
2. Highlight real experiences with diversified creators
Influencers driving across tree-laden roads or sitting beside picturesque waterfalls are great for capturing the audience's attention but cannot satisfy the consumer's need for relevant content. People today crave realistic content that resonates with their communities.
A recent survey from Kimpton Hotels revealed that at least 85% of respondents want to see more inclusive and diverse content from travel companies. Another study by Hospitality.net shows that about 84% of millennials make travel choices based on how they are represented in branded content.
Evidently, consumers seek content crafted from a unique perspective, catering to different travel styles and personalities. Especially people who feel left out due to their race, sexuality, disabilities, or sustainability choices.
To target more inclusivity in your content, collaborate with a diverse group of influencers and take your campaign to the next level. Start by sharing real experiences from different communities, such as LGBTQA+, plus size, and more. Kimpton Hotels and Intrepid Travel experimented with the strategy and secured amazing results.
Example: Kimpton Hotels
Kimpton Hotels, owned by IHG Hotels and Resorts, is one of the largest boutique hotel chains in the USA. Aiming to provide plastic-free and carbonless services, Kimpton Hotels is making waves in the sustainable travel and tourism department.
In 2023, Kimpton Hotels launched its Stay Human Packages across all its chains to create inclusive content catering to different travel personalities. As part of the initiative, the hospitality brand partnered with seven influencers representing varied communities—Shayne Tino, Australian model and designer, MYRNE, a singaporean DJ and internet personality, Anna Whitehouse, UK’s author, journalist and mom influencer, Tess Daly, fashion and makeup influencer for people living in wheelchairs, Dan Brown, the Sydney born fashion model, Rei Shito, Tokyo based street style photographer and journalist, and Roxanne Gould, a fashion model and wellness coach in USA.
The influencers in Kimpton’s creator collective speak to a diverse audience, making it a successful approach for the brand to include inclusive content.
For example, Tess Daly, the fashion and beauty creator for people with disabilities, created a post mentioning the Kimpton Hotels. She shared how the hotel made it easy for her to enjoy her travel experiences and create amazing memories.
The hospitality brand also launched its Plant Pals Program on Earth Day 2023, encouraging customers to ask for a plant at the hotel’s reception to accompany them throughout their stay. It partnered with non-binary plant and sustainability expert Christopher Griffin, popularly known as Plant Kween. The campaign engaged the LGBTQA+ community and appealed to eco-conscious travelers, which helped the company create an inclusive brand image.
3. Go beyond travel influencer partnerships
When it comes to promoting your eco-friendly travel company, it’s not just about partnering with travel influencers. You can go for influencers in other niches or leverage your previous customers to foster a significant following. It can include dancers, writers, journalists, fashion bloggers, makeup artists, and more.
These influencers often have to travel to places for content creation, which makes them perfect for promoting tourism brands. The strategy allows you to tap into a newer audience base and place your services right in front of people interested in checking you out.
Example: Pikidi Gardens
Pikidi Gardens is an eco-lodge based in Kenya, best known for its eco-friendly services, lush landscapes and tranquil stays. This eco-friendly travel destination stepped into the influencer marketing space with a unique strategy. Instead of going for famous travel and sustainable influencers, the company went for nano dance influencer—Clara Ruiz.
Clara Ruiz is a dancer sharing her journey across Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. Pikidi Gardens collaborated with Ruiz to run a giveaway campaign inviting couples for a two-night stay at their ecolodge. Seeing the diverse audience base in Clara’s profile, the company made the right choice. The campaign features Ruiz exploring Pikidi Gardens' environmentally friendly services and encouraging her followers to check it out.
In addition to the dance creator, Pikidi Gardens also leveraged a fashion designer and influencer Liz Ogumbo, an existing customer of the hospitality company. The creator first visited the eco-lodge to create content for her sustainable swimsuit company. But then became an ambassador for Pikidi Gardens, as she shared more and more content mentioning their services.
In 2022, Liz Ogumbo shared a video of her exploring the company’s energy - conserving traditional - style cooker. The video featured the nano fashion influencer cooking her favorite meal while engaging the audience through stories. She also educated the audience on how Pikidi Gardens uses sustainably sourced materials from farms for waste reduction.
4. Feature brand promotions in influencer podcasts
Many influencers today create audio content to target the podcast-loving audience. Professionals and busy moms often tune into podcasts from their favorite influencers while commuting or working, as it gives them easy access to interesting content. Influencer podcasts are a great way for travel brands to tell their stories. Especially if you’re making substantial efforts in the sustainable travel and tourism sector.
Read More about Influencer hosted Podcasts and their value in building spectacular content!
Example: Charitable Travel
Based in the UK, Charitable Travel is a tour booking agency. The company is so named as it donates 5% of the cost to charity and is also at the forefront of driving sustainable change by promoting eco-conscious travel efforts.
Charitable Travel relies on influencer podcasts to educate customers on giving back to society and adopting responsible travel. One of the best strategies followed by the company is to feature the brands on podcasts hosted by nano and micro influencers. Melissa Tilling, Founder of Charitable Travel has appeared on influencer podcasts like Truth Behind Travel run by Dolores Semeraro, and The Brave Bold Brilliant podcast by @jeannette.linfoot multiple times to talk about her brand’s values and messaging.
Both Dolores Semeraro and Jeannette Linfoot are nano influencers with 1.5k to 2.5k followers on Instagram, having a tight knit community in the travel and business sector. Featuring Charitable Travel in these podcasts was a smart move made by the founder to drive awareness for her brand and connect personally with influencer communities.
5. Create a creator crew to craft global trends report
Hiring influencers to craft a trends report may sound a little unusual. But it is something that American Express Travel experimented with to reach a global audience. Influencer partnerships can help you craft amazing trend reports and drive immense traffic to your content. If influencers are a part of something they will share it on their socials, driving engagement and awareness for your initiative.
Example: American Express Travel
American Express Travel, a booking website in America, hired influencers to power up its 2023 global trends report. Although American Express is a financial services company, its focus on sustainable travel has led to inspiring content on social media. From sharing responsible travel guides to reducing plastic waste, American Express is knee-deep in creating eco-friendly tourism experiences for its customers.
To share even more content on the latest travel trends, the company released a global report in May 2023. The report successfully directed people’s awareness of how different people choose to travel. While some prefer to travel sustainably, others leverage wellness activities to relax. And to craft this spectacularly engaging report, they relied on the #AmexAmbassadors—David Ma, the film director; Shelbizlee, a sustainable influencer and expert; Kritstina Cho, a chef and author; and Candace Molatore, wellness and self-care coach on Instagram.
These Amex ambassadors planned trips around the world to dig up exciting insights for the report. American Express then crafted the report from four mindsets, sustainable travel and tourism, pop culture-driven travel decisions, food-loving travelers, and health and wellness enthusiasts, leading to a detailed information-filled report. The influencers promoted the report across their profiles while sharing their travel experiences with their followers. The collaboration resulted in massive awareness for not just the report but the brand too.
The amazing examples show a variety of approaches you can take to create click-worthy campaigns! But if you’re not sure where to begin, we have a detailed guide for you on how to scale your service-based businesses. Check it out here! Also we have handpicked a list of top 5 sustainable influencers promoting eco-friendly tourism who you can partner with for your next World Environment Day campaign. Take notes from the above examples and get ready to run unique campaigns.
Top 5 sustainable influencers on Instagram vouching for eco-friendly traveling
1. Niomi Smart (@niomismart) - 1.3M followers
Niomi Smart is a sustainable influencer promoting eco-friendly products from brands like Allbirds, Nike, and more. The influencer has over a million followers on her Instagram page, catering to an audience interested in travel, clothing, and eco-conscious lifestyle. According to affable.ai’s analysis, Smart caters to a diverse audience, with a majority based in the UK and others residing in the USA, India, Germany, Italy and more. Of the total audience, 68.75% are females, and 31.25% are males.
2. Valeria Hinojosa (@waterthruskin) - 209k followers
Valeria Hinojosa is a vegan and sustainable influencer creating content around a conscious lifestyle. The influencer has collaborated with major brands like Ulta Beauty, Canon USA, Nespresso and more to promote their sustainability efforts. Hinojosa’s audience comprises mostly males making up 58% of her follower base, of which 90.85% are aged over 21+ years. The diversity of her content can be seen in her audience distribution, which suggests that most of her followers live in India, the USA, Indonesia, and 17 more countries. Her diverse audience base makes her a perfect choice for eco-friendly tourism companies.
3. Ashley Renne (@heyashleyrenne) - 125k followers
Ashley Renne is an advocate for the BIPOC community, veganism, and sustainability. The sustainable influencer is an ideal choice for sustainable tourism and travel brands to create inclusive content. In addition to sustainability and vegan food, her audience is also interested in food, fashion, and travel content, according to affable.ai’s data. Although she has a lower engagement rate than similar creators, she engages a large audience from the USA and Venezuela, which can be useful for brand targeting a customer base in these counties. United Airlines, Bomba Curls, Ulta Beauty, Target, Plan Berd, are some of her brand collaborations.
4. Manuela Baron (@thegirlgonegreen) - 31.9k followers
Manuela Baron is a micro-influencer in sustainable fashion, food and home decor niches. Her Instagram profile is filled with content related to waste reduction, conscious choices, and more. With 31k followers, she generates an engagement rate of 1.18%. According to affable.ai, around 92% of her audience is aged above 21 years.
5. Misty Foster (@greensuitcasetravel) - 14k followers
As her username suggests, Misty Foster is an advocate for sustainable traveling. Her content revolves around eco vacations, sustainable tourism, and conscious living. Foster’s follower base comprises mostly females from the USA. Additionally, she generates an engagement rate of 3%, which suggests that she has an active audience base who love her content.
As more people demand for sustainable travel experiences, tourism brands have doubled their efforts to adopt eco-friendly practices to reduce carbon emissions, waste, and pollution. Influencers help these brands in their journey to become more eco-conscious and meet consumer demands.
Influencer marketing is indeed a surefire way to capture the eco-conscious market. But taking this step alone can be overwhelming for brands as they have to face challenges like landing the right creators, and building the right strategies.
The good news is that influencer marketing platforms like affable.ai can help you navigate this journey more efficiently! affable.ai provides automated tools like influencer search engine, campaign management, story tracking, and campaign reports that help make data-driven decisions.
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