Since the beginning of COVID-19, the travel and tourism industry has seen a dramatic decrease in the amount of branded organic content shared on social media. Access to research from BrandGraph, IZEA’s proprietary social intelligence platform, reduced the relative volume of organic (or earned) social media content that mentions brands by 92% from February 2020 to March 2021, which is the norm The usual “free” social media engagement was significantly reduced, and travel and tourism brands were offered. IZEA estimates that the global impact on travel and tourism brands is $ 5.2 billion in lost media earned per month, assuming an average of $ 20 per post.

“The travel and tourism industry has benefited greatly from the rise of social media over the past 15 years,” said Ted Murphy, founder / CEO of IZEA, a provider of influencer marketing technology, data and services to leading global brands. “Every month, billions of photos and videos are posted by consumers who share their travel experiences with friends, family and colleagues on social platforms from Instagram to YouTube. The total value of these organic posts is far higher than what the travel industry spends on paid media. The industry relies on a massive amount of free marketing from social media users that has been abruptly and significantly reduced. Unless people get on a plane or visit a theme park, there is no social media post that gets the followers to take the same trip or visit the hotel. There is no moment when I want to go there.

“While tour operators have slowly increased the range of services available to consumers, the organic content sharing for these brands has not yet improved accordingly,” he continued. “We believe that many consumers are reluctant to share their travels on social media regardless of the safety precautions they have taken for fear of someone else’s judgment.”

The study analyzed 241 brands in the travel and tourism industry, including leading hotels, airlines, timeshare and theme parks, among others.

A jump for sponsored content in March
In contrast to organic content, the proportion of sponsored content has increased slowly but steadily since April 2020. The relative content volume for sponsored posts has rebounded 77% since the month following the World Health Organization’s pandemic declaration, but is still down 61% from February 2020.Most of that recovery came in March this year, with the relative content volume increasing by 37% compared to the previous month.

“Travel brands are starting to invest in influencer marketing again,” Murphy said.
“Marketing executives are likely to realize that they are spending more on influencer marketing than on other forms of marketing in the short term. Consumers simply don’t share as many travel experiences as they used to, which is having an impact on brand awareness and consumer demand. We believe travel brands need to use influencers to make organic sharing easier for other travelers. Influencers can help brands activate the content pump by simply sharing their own experiences with their audience. The potential return on investment from regaining the volume and dynamism of organic content far outweighs the cost of starting a large-scale influencer marketing campaign. The sooner travel and tourism brands can get well-earned media going again, the faster the entire industry will recover. “

A race for the travel consumer wallet
On April 2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated guidelines on travel for fully vaccinated individuals. Fully vaccinated people can now travel within the U.S. and will not require COVID-19 testing or post-travel self-quarantine as long as they continue to take COVID-19 precautions while traveling – wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, social distancing, and washing hands frequently.

“The updated CDC guidelines will create a once-in-a-lifetime event for the travel industry,” said Murphy. “After a year without travel, there will be a race for many consumers to meet the pent-up demand. We believe that the brands that are most aggressive with their marketing in the short term will benefit the most this summer and this holiday season. “