How to Find Travel Bloggers to Promote Your Hotel or Tour Business (PR)

Man with megaphone on tourBefore you go and email travel bloggers with your press releases, the first question to ask is whether you should do so in the first place. This article will cover how to find travel bloggers that are already talking to your target market and hold influence over their vacation decisions. You’ll learn why it is necessary to find travel bloggers who are likely to be receptive to your PR campaign.

It is important to recall how PR is very different to other forms of marketing such as press trips and offers of free stays and tours in exchange for blog posts and social media publicity.

Back from TBEX Costa Brava

So I attended the travel blogger exchange conference (TBEX) in Costa Brava, Spain and met digital strategist Jason Falls (follow him on Twitter) of Elasticity at his talk about “The Purple Dinosaur.” I was kind of hoping that he would jump onto the stage in a neon dinosaur suit, but that might be too scary for us attendees 😉

Fortunately for the tourism marketing audience, he discussed several effective techniques for finding bloggers who are a good fit with your PR campaigns. This talk was originally delivered to a global blogging conference, but he tailored it with actionable lessons for destination marketers as well as hotels and tour operators who wish to work with travel bloggers.  I’ll share his research and recommendations with you.

Why Reach Out to Travel Bloggers

Travel bloggers represent the new wave of travel media and are in my opinion about to cross over into the mainstream. Their influence (and numbers) grow considerably every year – something I witnessed by attending three travel blogger conferences over three consecutive years. Since there are still few reliable statistics on the state of the travel blogging industry, I have no hard facts to share just yet.

Obviously searching Google for the term “travel blog” will unleash millions of hits representing thousands and thousands of bloggers. You must keep in mind that a large number of travel blogs are abandoned each year, but that is normal in the new media world.  I just wish Google would notice so we all don’t have to search for the date of the most recent post or tweet.

Travel blogger instant Twitter influence

What you get from travel blogger coverage is similar to what you get from the “traditional” online media such as travel and lifestyle magazines and news sites. However, it can also be so much more if you leverage their personal travel brand and powerful influence online. Travel bloggers have a perspective, an engaged audience, and a following that you can never match as an independent hotel or tour operator. You’re a business whereas a travel blogger is seen as a peer that inspires people just like them to seize the opportunity to travel more and travel better.

So it is clear that travel blogs are a vital outlet for your PR efforts, but how do you find travel bloggers that match your target audience?

Finding Influential Travel Blogs

Your next step is to add travel bloggers to your list of media outlets with whom you share your PR-worthy news by email. There are both free tools as well as paid (premium) services that let you search for media outlets with the clout, profile, and reach that you seek. These outlets will include both traditional media websites such as online newspapers, TV networks, business, and culture sites as well as blogs that often rank just as highly.

Searching for Travel Bloggers

Review these top recommendations from Jason Falls to get you started on your search for PR friendly travel bloggers:

  • Search Google or Bing for “Top Travel Blogs in … ______ ” (fill in the destination or style of travel keyword).
  • Use free or trial use tools to measure trends and compare influence: Klout, Buzzsumo, and Keyhole.
  • Ask your customers (guests and tour participants) which travel blogs they follow.
  • Make it a habit to read a variety of travel blogs to determine which ones are speaking to your core demographic.
  • Consider paid and premium tools such as Traackr, Brandwatch, LittleBird, CISION, and followerwonk.
  • Curate a spreadsheet of travel blogs that fit the bill, taking notes and prioritizing the list regularly.
  • Don’t forget Facebook and Twitter where you can judge for yourself whether a large number of fans and followers means results in a large actual readership that trusts the travel blogger/brand vs. just a bunch of fluff. Look beyond followers and tweet counts to evidence of engagement such as re-tweets, real comments, and active discussions.
  • Look for media kits to measure the professionalism and effectiveness of a travel blogger compared with your PR goals.
  • Verify the social media numbers and search ranking stats of travel blogger using a tool like Alexa.

Here’s the full slideshow of the Purple Dinosaur talk given at TBEX:

Jason’s blog also has a relevant article called “Framing the Blogger-PR Relationship Differently” that I know you’ll find useful as well.

BloggerBridge – the Travel Blogger Matching Site

Another tool that I can recommend is called BloggerBridge. It is the online tool that attendees at TBEX use to connect and make appointments during the speed networking sessions. So if a tour company has an upcoming walking tour in Italy for example, they can use it to find bloggers who will be in Italy, write about Italy often, or have influence in the country and for the demographics that match your target market. This includes SEO, social media, and online engagement stats to find out which travel blogs fit your goals.

The service is free for travel bloggers to create a profile and send messages to participating travel brands. There is an annual fee for destination marketers, hospitality companies, tour operators to join the platform. By signing up you can search through detailed travel blog profiles and manage your travel blog outreach and press trip campaigns. You can use BloggerBridge to quickly discover and make deals with travel bloggers who are skilled at reaching your target vacation-taking audience.

When Travel Bloggers and PR Don’t Mix

Doing the Travel Blogger DanceRemember that the goal of public relations (PR) is to create awareness of newsworthy events that are likely to be covered by media outlets for free. It isn’t advertising so don’t send out press releases about your great hotel rates, how tour spots are filling up, or mentioning that you have a top ranking on TripAdvisor. Travel bloggers will treat that as spam (and most likely not return your emails) and you’ll fail to build any positive relationships with them.

Cultivate your travel blogger relationships in other ways first so that when you do send out press releases, they are more likely to be read and disseminated. Connect with your targeted list of travel bloggers over the long-term to earn their trust.

For example, if you find a travel blogger that primarily covers the Caribbean and you are a sailing tour operator or represent a group of Caribbean resorts, try to:

  • Add your expert advice as comments in a few of their blog posts
  • Follow, Like, Share, and Re-Tweet their posts and Tweets to your audience
  • Email or share with them via social media, relevant travel industry and destination event news
  • Recommend them as an expert travel blogger for your destination, demographic, or vacation style

Sending Press Releases to Travel Bloggers

When it comes time to send your press release to a travel blogger, they’ll know who you are and why you’re worth listening to. You have important news to share about your tourism business and you want them to be the first to know. Make sure to email each travel blogger personally and avoid bulk email for obvious reasons (you’re emailing a person, not a newsroom).

Not every travel blogger will be responsive to your PR campaign, maybe because they are too busy or feel your news releases are not relevant. Some may ask for payment like for a sponsored post or freebies in exchange for writing about your hotel or tours. Recall the purpose of PR since you need to keep this effort separate from your online ads, press/blogger trips, and other marketing programs. If you want to work with travel bloggers via paid trips, sponsored posts, and ad placements on their site, by all means go ahead but it is not what we are talking about here.

However, if you feel your press release is relevant, newsworthy, and valuable to a travel blogger audience, make this clear in your messaging. Travel bloggers are not traditional marketing and PR experts. The difference between PR and marketing is often hard to appreciate since so many popular sites blur the lines between journalism, travel writing, and promoted content.

Hotel and Tour Operator PR Summary

Ringing a bell in Japan, for travelWhat do you think of these travel industry->travel blogger PR campaign recommendations? Do you send press releases to travel bloggers as an integral part of your online campaign and what have been your results? Have you found travel bloggers to be receptive to PR newsworthy stories and have you benefited from their social media clout and influence?

Let’s talk about how to get travel bloggers to promote your business in a mutually beneficial way when you have exciting, valuable, and unique hotel and tour news to spread. Add your comments to the discussion below.

[Images are copyright travel blogger Dr. J at Sidewalk Safari]

This post is part of a series of travel marketing articles about working with travel bloggers. Subscribe to the BookingCounts email newsletter to receive the rest plus valuable resources to help you get more bookings.

Leave a Comment:

TripControl says May 4, 2017

Thank you for the great blog ideas!

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