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The Creator Economy’s Impact on Destination Marketing

Josh Johnson (he/him/his) Creative Strategist

In recent years, the creator economy has grown leaps and bounds and shows no sign of slowing down. Everywhere we look, from clothing brands to hoteliers, influencers are the new face of just about everything. The impact they’ve had on many industries, including travel and tourism, is seen across the board, from award-winning social media campaigns to viral dance challenges and everything in between. The key to success? Creators that capitalize on their influence and leverage their unique point of view to outpace and outperform traditional marketing channels. 

Ready to learn how you can take a bite out of this ever-growing industry and make your mark? Then follow along as we dive into the profound impact the creator economy has had on destination marketing organizations (DMOs) and the travel industry as a whole.

The power of content creators in destination marketing

Through captivating stories, visually appealing imagery, and authentic experiences, content creators have emerged as influential voices in the travel industry. Their ability to share the good, the bad, and the ugly allows them to connect with their audiences on a more personal level. From replying to comments with their favorite local hotspots to inspiring visitation to smaller destinations – their influence is not to be overlooked.

Leveraging authentic storytelling

One of the key advantages of working with content creators is their ability to craft authentic and relatable stories. By sharing their personal experiences and insights, creators can connect with their audiences on a deeper level. DMOs can collaborate with creators to showcase the unique aspects of their destinations, uncover hidden gems, and highlight the local culture. The end goal? Enticing potential travelers.

Social media platforms as amplifiers

Social media platforms have become the primary stage for content creators to showcase their work. Creators can generate immense exposure for a destination with a single post or video. DMOs can capitalize on this by building relationships with relevant creators and providing them with exclusive experiences, hosted getaways, and insider information to create captivating content.

Co-creating with creators

As we’ve already shared, creators have a unique lens that allows them to capture buzz-worthy and highly relatable content. DMOs can take full advantage of this by involving them in the destination’s content creation process. Collaborative initiatives, such as influencer trips, allow creators to immerse themselves in the destination and create high-quality content aligned with the DMO’s marketing objectives. This co-creation approach ensures a genuine portrayal of the destination while creators benefit from unique experiences and valuable content. Have a local creator that loves to share why your destination is a must-visit? Tap them into existing marketing initiatives and leverage their content. Creating a win-win situation for both creators and DMOs is more than just possible–it’s a match made in heaven.

Authenticity and disclosure

As DMOs engage with creators, transparency, and authenticity are crucial. After all, this is exactly how they’ve built a loyal community of engaged followers. It goes without saying that influencers should always clearly disclose their partnerships with DMOs to maintain trust with their audience. Likewise, DMOs must ensure that creators have the freedom to express their genuine opinions, even if it includes constructive criticism. Authenticity fosters credibility and builds long-term relationships with both creators and travelers.

Micro-influencers and niche markets

While prominent influencers have a broad reach, micro-influencers and creators in specific niche markets can also play a significant role in your marketing efforts. Why? Because they often have a highly engaged audience interested in niche travel experiences perfectly suited for your destination. By partnering with micro-influencers, DMOs can tap into these niche markets and attract a more targeted segment of travelers. How? Develop influencer-led campaigns to highlight your offerings. The options are endless! Need a thought starter? Try a craft brewery roundup with a local beer-focused creator.

User-generated content and community building

The creator economy also empowers everyday travelers to become content creators themselves. Encouraging user-generated content (UGC) and engaging with a travel community can be an effective strategy for DMOs. By running contests, featuring user content on official channels, and establishing hashtags, DMOs can foster a sense of belonging and encourage travelers to share their positive experiences while potentially gathering content to be repurposed on your owned social media channels in the process. People love to see people that look like them in your destination. This isn’t always possible when casting for brand-led shoots, but with almost every traveler having a camera in hand these days, there are endless opportunities to showcase your diverse destination.

What’s next with creator marketing?

The creator economy has disrupted the traditional landscape of destination marketing, offering new avenues for engagement and inspiration. It’s also created a new set of challenges and hurdles for DMOs to overcome. By harnessing the power of content creators, DMOs can leverage authentic storytelling, social media platforms, and co-creation to captivate travelers and promote their destinations in new and exciting ways. Embracing this collaborative approach will enable DMOs to adapt to the evolving travel landscape and reach a broader audience in the digital age. This will not only ensure your current target demographics stay engaged with your destination, but it will also plant the seed and inspire visitation for generations to come.

Let's chat about how we can leverage the creator economy for your DMO!