Description

98% of adults in the US use social media, translating to about 240 million users in the US, consumers spend almost four and a half hours on their phones per day, on average. That’s a lot of screen time, and an opportunity for social advertising, especially to the 84% who say they intend to travel this year. This means that travel brands need to reach travelers during their inspiration and planning stages through social media, and influencer marketing is becoming a stronger way to do so.

The influencer audience is heavily Millennial and tends to have money to spend; however, they’re also value-conscious and are looking for information from reliable, knowledgeable sources to help them make their vacation planning decisions. Travel brands, DMOs and others have the opportunity – if they can partner with influencers effectively – to close the sales loop quickly through in-content booking if they can successfully earn viewers’ trust.

Effective partnership begins with choosing the right influencer and audience. However, there’s no one “right” influencer; audiences are starting to turn to influencers with smaller audiences to better address their specific needs. Luckily, there are some attributes of influencers – honesty, authority and integrity – just to name a few – that signal to brands that they can provide a beneficial partnership.

This report looks at the following areas:

  • An overview of influencer marketing and what social media platforms are doing to leverage the influencer economy
  • What audiences, including those planning on vacationing, turn to influencers to find out
  • The kinds of influencers audiences seek and their preferred forms of influencer content
  • Which travel sectors could benefit from direct booking through influencer marketing
  • Why audiences stick with travel influencers and the kind of information they value
  • How broader consumer trends can be applied to successful travel influencer marketing strategies

Knowing which influencers to partner with, where, and how can help travel brands meet a traveling population increasingly swamped with options.

Mike Gallinari, Senior Travel & Leisure Analyst

Market Definitions

Influencer: an individual who has built a following on social media platforms and has the ability to impact their audience’s purchasing decisions and opinions through their content, endorsements, and personal brand

Influencer follower: internet users aged 18+ who follow any people on social media they do not know in real life (eg celebrities, bloggers, influencers)

Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary

    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Overview
    • What you need to know
    • What consumers want & why
    • Market predictions
    • Opportunities
    • Feel free to go long
    • Bring it in-house
    • Humans still love the written word
    • Incorporating trends
  2. Market Dynamics

    • Market context
    • What is an influencer?
    • Market drivers
    • Near-universal social media use
    • The most popular platforms are slowly coalescing at the top
    • Graph 1: at least daily active usage, select platforms, May 2019-May 2024
    • Screen time levels are good for influencer marketing
    • Vacationing population holds steady with a notable share planning to visit a new destination
    • Rising travel prices put an emphasis on value
    • Influencer market value indicators
    • The global influencer market continues its strong growth
    • UGC is driving overall cost down, but expect to shell out for video
    • Social media platform updates
    • Changes across the landscape point to a dynamic future for travel influencer marketing
    • Facebook's Reels reworked to let smaller influencers thrive in a huge ocean of followers
    • YouTube girding itself as a more powerful ad platform
    • Instagram tweaks aim to break up the monotony of content
    • TikTok implements revenue streams, at risk of user enthusiasm
    • But what of the TikTok ban? For now, not much
    • Pinterest expands Catalogues to the travel industry
    • Platform with Potential: Twitch
    • Platform with potential: LinkedIn …wait, what?
    • On the downtrend: X won't give it to ya
  3. Consumer Insights

    • Consumer fast facts
    • Travel influencer audience
    • Influencer audience has been rising
    • Graph 2: share of social media users who follow influencers, 2018-24
    • Influencer audience skews younger
    • Graph 3: demographic distribution of social media users who follow influencers, by key demographics, 2024
    • Where travelers plan to visit gives insight into they are
    • Graph 4: type of destination planned in the next 12 months, 2024
    • Where travelers plan on visiting gives insight to who they are
    • Graph 5: gender and generation distribution of travel planners, by newness of destination planned in the next 12 months, 2024
    • Graph 6: household income and parent status distribution of travel planners, by newness of destination planned in the next 12 months, 2024
    • Travel influencers enjoy decent popularity
    • Graph 7: types of influencers followed, 2024
    • Those planning to visit new destinations are more likely to follow influencers
    • Travel faces competition from entertainment, gaming in the attention economy
    • Graph 8: types of influencers followed, by gender and by generation, 2024
    • Travel audiences are able to spend
    • Graph 9: HHI and workplace* distribution of vacation planners who follow travel influencers, 2024
    • Topics audiences seek
    • Audiences think influencers know good eats
    • Graph 10: topics audiences would turn to travel influencers for, 2024
    • (Re)discovery captures new and repeat visitors alike
    • Graph 11: topics audiences would turn to travel influencers for, by type of vacation destination planned in the next 12 months, 2024
    • Women look for boots-on-the-ground reporting
    • Graph 12: topics audiences would turn to travel influencers for, by gender, 2024
    • Ever-searching younger travelers see influencers as an info source
    • Graph 13: topics audiences would turn to travel influencers for, by generation, 2024
    • Pro advice on TikTok
    • Multicultural influencer followers want a safety check
    • Graph 14: interest in travel influencer advice on safety, by race and Hispanic origin, 2024
    • Give parents the know-how on group travel
    • Graph 15: topics audiences would turn to travel influencers for, by parental status, 2024
    • Preferred ad formats
    • Brands need to be upfront about their involvement in social ads
    • Graph 16: preferred social ad formats for info about vacations and destinations, any rank, 2024
    • Short form? Long form? It depends…
    • Graph 17: preferred social ad formats for info about vacations and destinations, any rank, by platform DAUs, 2024
    • TikTok wonders if you'll watch an hourlong Rasputin shuffle
    • Brands have little time to provide a lot of information on social media
    • Graph 18: preferred social ad formats for info about vacations and destinations, any rank, 2024, by type of vacation destination planned in the next 12 months, 2024
    • Use endorsements to resonate with Black and Hispanic viewers
    • Graph 19: preferred social ad formats for info about vacations and destinations, any rank, by race and Hispanic origin, 2024
    • Ciara Johnson helps brands beyond travel speak to Black consumers
    • Trusted sources of travel information
    • Audiences look for a professional touch
    • Graph 20: trusted sources of travel information on social media, total and by type of vacation destination planned in the next 12 months, 2024
    • TikTokers flock to flight attendant's expertise
    • Younger consumers trust the expertise influencers bring
    • Graph 21: trusted sources of travel information on social media, by generation, 2024
    • Influencer content can be a way for luxury travel pros to reach audiences
    • Graph 22: trust in travel planning pros as sources of travel information on social media, by HHI, 2024
    • Parents of little ones want inside info from a brand
    • Graph 23: trust in travel brand employees as sources of travel information on social media, by age of children in household, 2024
    • Direct booking on social media
    • Audiences have more trust in established platforms
    • Graph 24: comfort with the idea of booking travel on social platforms, 2024
    • Instagram can be for discovery and re-discovery
    • Graph 25: comfort with the idea of booking travel through Instagram, by type of vacation destination planned in the next 12 months, 2024
    • Brands have a big opportunity to reach users on Twitch
    • Graph 26: comfort with the idea of booking travel through social posts, Twitch users vs all, 2024
    • Why not TikTok?
    • Instagram has the potential for travel loyalty program member purchases
    • Graph 27: comfort with the idea of booking hotels and airfare through Instagram, by HHI, 2024
    • Travel influencers and values
    • Why do followers stick with travel influencers?
    • Personal relationships make travel info more resonant
    • Graph 28: attitudes toward personal connection with travel influencers – any agree, by gender and by generation, 2024
    • Consider text's role in building trust
    • Graph 29: attitudes toward personal connection with travel influencers – any agree, by platform DAUs, 2024
    • Influencing Gen Z can be fraught with ethical questions
    • Graph 30: attitudes toward travel influencers transgressing values – any agree, by generation, 2024
    • Attitudes toward authenticity and trust
    • Tepid attitudes about authenticity let brands experiment
    • Graph 31: attitudes toward authenticity and trust – any agree, 2024
    • Men go for grit, women for glitz
    • Graph 32: attitudes toward authenticity and trust – any agree, by gender, 2024
    • Younger followers, parents believe smaller influencers are more relevant
    • Attitudes toward influencer content
    • Travel influencers need to be informative and honest
    • Graph 33: attitudes toward influencer content, 2024
    • Gabriel Traveler doesn't shy from the banal or grimy
    • The most well-off want to secure their investment
    • Graph 34: attitudes toward influencer conten – any agree, by HHI, 2024
    • First-hand information is often the best
  4. Innovation and Marketing Trends

    • Launch activity and innovation/trends
    • Hitting on value, not cost, is more powerful than any viral trend
    • Klook launches Kreator program, creating its own well of influencers
    • Pinterest makes a huge jump in identity in launching Deliciously Entertaining
    • Introducing Deliciously Entertaining
    • Tourism New Zealand looks to aid B2B influencer marketing
    • Marketing and advertising
    • Consumers are primed for brand messaging on social platforms
    • Graph 35: digital advertising travel* industry – share of impressions vs share of spending, by platform, April 2024
    • Matching influencers with travel trends
    • @louiscole gives much-needed insight into sustainable travel
    • @quingable's presence in different travel areas gives her a wide audience
    • @quingable offers her advice as a cat owner, not a sponsor
    • The "Traveling Grannies" are a mouthpiece for a rising niche of travelers
    • Grannies charmingly accept Hilton hospitality, even if not congruent with their channel
    • Trends and Opportunities
    • Mintel Trend: On Display
    • Irish airline cops to being rogues with brogues
    • Mintel Trend: Serving the Underserved
    • Cory Lee provides all-access(ibility) content
    • Mintel Trend: The Real Thing
    • Wolters World has an approachable tenor
    • Mintel Trend: The Body Beautiful
  5. Appendix

    • Market definition
    • Consumer research methodology
    • Generations
    • Abbreviations and terms

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