There’s more to travel influencers than you think – “People don’t just want to see perfect pictures”
It’s easy to think that all travel influencers are the same and post photos of glowing sunsets and rooftop bars on Instagram.
In reality, the influencer industry is becoming increasingly diverse, ranging from bloggers to celebs, traditional media figures, and social media stars.
A new wave of travel experts are delivering much more than pretty pictures – hence our new Reader Travel Awards category, ‘Ireland’s Best Travel Influencer’.
Rory King is the person you nominated as Ireland’s Top Travel Influencer for 2023.
He only went full-time with his concept 18 months ago, but already has 225,000 followers on social media and 62,000 members on his website. rorystravelclub.comwho receive exclusive discounts on hotel stays, travel deals and links to great airfares (e.g. a €202 round-trip ticket from Dublin to New York).
“I wouldn’t really classify myself as an influencer,” he says.
“We influence people to travel and go on trips but I fell for it to be honest. People follow me because they are looking for cheap deals and want to be inspired to travel at the best price… They don’t want to see what I have for breakfast!”
How does his club work?
“Unlike other travel accounts, we don’t take commissions,” he explains (members pay an annual fee of €10).
“Our job is to find and negotiate the best deals for our members. You never book through us. We direct them to book with the properties, airlines or our licensed travel partners.”
He also creates group tours, be it to Irish hotels or destinations like Bodrum or Croatia. If members then confirm via email that they have booked, they will be added to WhatsApp groups before the trips begin. And Rory often travels to meet these groups himself.
“I’m always on the move – I could be in Donegal one day and Kerry the next.
“We have such a beautiful country and I inspire people to go places they may not have heard of before. Everything we post is about adding value to our followers. I try to be as open and honest as possible. ”
Ireland’s top 10 travel influencers
- Rory King (rorystravelclub.com)
- Sarah Slattery (thetravelexpert.ie)
- Mark Murphy (irishflights.ie)
- Catherine Thomas (pureresults.ie)
- steph my lifestephmylifetravel.com)
- Nadia El Ferdaoussi (@nadia_dailyself)
- Sarah Hanrahan (icomeundone.com)
- GoTime Travel (youtube.com)
- Michelle Jackson (thenoveltraveller.com)
- Alan Clarke (@alanclarkeofficial)
Sarah Slattery is another Irish travel influencer with a strong ethos – she was #2 in our readers’ nominations.
“People don’t just want to see perfect pictures,” she says. “It is important that you are truthful about a destination or attraction. People rely on you and may book on your recommendation – honesty and integrity is of paramount importance and a certain level of expertise and judgment is also required.”
A reputable travel agency for 24 years before becoming The Travel Expert (thetravelexpert.ie) Slattery originally launched her social channels to lure readers to her website. Today she posts weekly travel deals, travel guides and tons of questions and answers on Instagram.
Our readers have nominated a wide variety of people for the Travel Influencer Award, which shows how diverse the new essence of “influence” is. Proposals ranged from broadcasters to celebrities and travel writers to social media influencers; from traditional media to channels like YouTube, TikTok and Instagram.
Things are also becoming more transparent. It’s easier to find out where paid clicks are coming from; Collaborations now need to be explained, making trustworthy voices more popular.
Also, the way travel influencers make money is more complex than you might think. While Rory doesn’t work with paid partnerships, there is a €10 annual fee for members. Sarah works with programmatic ads on her site, which allows her to keep her newsletter and content completely free for her followers. She also earns income from affiliate links and sponsored content.
Another influencer who is no stranger to diversification is Sarah Hanrahan of I Come Undone (icomeundone.com). A former Psychiatric Nurse, she began creating Dublin content around her work schedule before transitioning into full-time influencer.
As well as her drooling food posts and where to stay ideas in Dublin, she also creates bespoke overseas itineraries with her Experience Planner service.
“I’m very picky about the quality of my content, so there were hundreds of takes on every video I made,” she says, spending about 80 percent of her time at a desk rather than on the go.
“I think the goal of developers is to make their content look effortless, but in terms of time, it’s a lot of hours spent.”
Of course, influencers in the limelight are surrounded by many clichés, but there are also many different genres and niches out there, from family accounts to backpackers or solo specialists.
And being a good travel influencer means more than just snapping the odd hotel photo.
“There’s a big difference between someone who travels constantly and has visited countless hotels and resorts, and an influencer who travels regularly but happens to have a large following on social media,” says Sarah Slattery.
But despite all the travel, a surprising amount of grind happens here at home. Depending on the time of year, she splits her work and travel roughly 75/25, the latter being on the road.
And those hours pay off. She’s posted about a tuk-tuk tour in Lisbon that has resulted in more than 1,000 bookings, and her posts on specific cruise lines and destinations like Greece’s Sani Resort are generating hundreds of Irish bookings.
Rory estimates that over €3m in bookings were made through his platform last year.
Well, that’s what we call influence.
https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/awards/theres-more-to-travel-influencers-than-you-think-people-dont-only-want-to-see-perfect-pictures-42295687.html There’s more to travel influencers than you think – “People don’t just want to see perfect pictures”