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The role of influencers in the travel industry

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I remember earlier this year having a conversation with an associate about the role mobile will have in how destinations engage with customers, and the possibility of them both identifying and treating influential customers specially whenever they come near their properties.

The logic from the merchants point of view is an obvious one.  By providing special treatment to ‘influential’ customers, they hope that these people will subsequently say nice things about that brand on their social networks, with the praise subsequently resulting in an upkick in trade.

One of the pioneers of this approach was the fashion company Volga Verdi.  They announced that they would begin to offer discounts to customers based primarily upon the number of followers they have on social media.  The more online friends you have, the more discount you get. For example if you have over 200 followers on Twitter, your discount is US$0.15.  To get the discount, you must follow Volga Verdi on Twitter, tweet a pre-specified message about the brand, and then email Volga Verdi to confirm you have taken part.

Suffice to say, with the growing number of people artificially inflating their following on sites such as Twitter, this could quickly become a rather bum deal for the company, but that hasn’t stopped the travel company Hotelied following a similar line of thought.

If you’re not familiar with Hotelied, they’re a travel company that offer a range of hotels and properties that are four-star and above in quality.  It has recently began offering quite substantial discounts to those travelers with a lot of clout online.

To do this, users log-on to the Hotelied website, and connect up their social networks to their accounts.  At the moment Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are all supported, with plans afoot to add Instagram to the list.  The site will then offer users a range of deals based upon their profile.

Of course, the success of such a scheme lives and dies on the methods used to analyze our profiles.  You would imagine for instance that Paul Johnson from the Luxury Travel Blog or Frederic Gonzalo would be much more valuable to this niche than someone like myself, so it will be interesting to see if Hotelied can actually ascertain those influential in the travel industry itself vs those possibly influential in other fields.

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