The Big Connect. How can travel brands work with travel bloggers.

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Big Connect2017

Big Connect

On 22 November by invitation of Big Ambitions, I co-hosted and presented at their first-ever Big Connect event in Cape Town, where the focus was to encourage essential conversation between travel brands and bloggers. The lessons taken away went something like this.

Work with travel bloggers and influencers

Speaking from my personal experience as The Incidental Tourist, my presentation took a look at various types of campaigns that travel brands can run in conjunction with influencers, as well as the value that influencer marketing can bring to travel. Download my presentation and please feel free to be in touch with any questions.

Work with video

Dean Paarman from showed us how to put a social media video together in literally 5 minutes.  And if you want to learn to do it yourself, why not take their online video creation course. All Big Ambitions attendees at #BigConnect qualify for a discounted rate of R950 to attend’s last workshop for the year on 7 December at Once in Cape Town.

Big Connect

Work with travel brands

Our panel discussion with Lyle Scritten of the wonderful Travelstart, Lee Raskinen (Virgin Atlantic) and Theresa Szejwallo (Trafalgar) saw us tackle the controversial topic of paying influencers, and the difference between ‘blogger/media trips’ and campaigns. The travel brands outlined how they choose influencers with whom they work, what their expectations are and the opportunities to work with travel brands.

Work with Little Big Wines

Little Big Wines was on hand to delight our taste buds with their selection of wines: little dry red, little dry white and delicious little big blush. Thank you to Lord Riaan and his super cool crew for bringing the chocolate along. Check out what they have to offer here. I was lucky enough to be gifted a case, that I’m saving for the next time that one glass won’t be enough, but a bottle will be too much …

Work with Big Ambitions

Big Ambitions has invited all bloggers and influencers to sign up to their database so they can keep you in the loop for any upcoming campaigns they may be running with their clients, as well as for future Big Connect events.

Big Connect

Big Connect

Big Connect

The future of travel marketing, said Lyle Scritten, Digital PR & Outreach Strategist at Travelstart, is telling a story and keeping it authentic, predominantly through video. There are also immense opportunities to be found on other platforms added by Theresa Szejwallo, MD Trafalgar South Africa. “We don’t know what people are saying about our travel brands on WeChat and SnapChat, so that’s a very exciting travel marketing space to look at.”

As influencers, we addressed the important discussion around being paid for generating content from blogger/ media trips, with travel brands admitting that they do not pay influencers for their time away from the office. “We do not pay influencers, but pride ourselves on offering ‘money can’t buy’ experiences like meeting Richard Branson or attending the MTV Music Awards in New York. These are not necessarily experiences you could buy,” explained Lee Raskinen, Executive: Marketing and Communications at Virgin Atlantic.

“Sending an influencer on a trip is a huge investment on our side so while we don’t pay for their time, we do sometimes pay for their content generated during the trip. We recently worked with Stevo and Chanel from ‘How far from home’ on a Trafalgar trip to New Zealand and negotiated upfront with them to buy some of their images from the trip.

“We also negotiated an affiliate marketing agreement where they promoted the trip to their followers and received a commission from whatever bookings they got. There are ways to earn an income by working with travel brands by enticing your followers to travel with that brand,” said Szejwallo.

“Personally I see the value of the experiences I have in travel as phenomenal. But we need to differentiate between media trips where we’re joining a group to have an experience and write about it, and campaign work where we produce a certain amount of content. With the latter, there’s more responsibility because there’s a contract with deliverables. Then we have the conversation about being paid.”

Influencer content is very attractive for travel brands as there’s always a need for fresh content and luckily Travelstart is happy to pay for it, as well as quality photos and video footage. A successful day and without a doubt, the first of many Big Connect events to come.

Clearly still a work in progress, but conversations and networking opportunities such as these bridge the divide between brands and bloggers and create a much better understanding of each other’s perspectives and concerns, while ensuring a better future for us all. My special thanks to Danica Helfrich and Natalia Rosa of Big Ambitions for the opportunity.

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