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Covid19 has upended many livelihoods. It has put the entire travel industry and the service industry in general into a tailspin. However, what happens if your livelihood is dependent on constantly creating and sharing content as an ‘influencer’? Travel influencers are no different. If you hop on to Instagram, you’ll find many of them constantly sharing content. I’ve already written previously about how social media has blurred the lines between reality and fantasy. Many Instagram feeds create a false image and often mislead audience into believing a lot more that what actually exists.

Travel Influencers

I’m not a big fan of the term ‘influencer’. It’s essentially a media coined term and doesn’t mean a lot. In my opinion, being a trusted advisor or a subject matter expert means a lot more than just being an influencer. Be that as it may, influencers in each industry were essentially brand ambassadors. Brands were happy to use them as a marketing tool to sell their products. Be it shampoos, make-up kits or travel, brands were loosening their purse strings in order to reach an audience.

However, market conditions have suddenly changed. Brands are cutting their advertising spend and budgets are bound to get slashed. What happens to influencers who thrive on a constant flow of content portraying ‘the ideal dream life’? Vanity Fair published this interesting piece and one of their quotes stood out to me. You can read the full article here.

It’s just that while influencer content can be mindless, it’s now less of an escape than ever. Faced with a pandemic that has already done away with life as we know it, whatever inspiration influencers offered will no longer cut it. We’re all a little too spent to aspire to anything except making it through.

A few weeks ago, Charnas took up a doctor friend’s offer for a coronavirus test; tests were especially hard to come by then, and still are. She broadcast it to her 1.3 million followers. This did not go over well in her comments section and on other internet forums. She insisted she paid for it, therefore she didn’t get special treatment, before capitulating in a later statement posted to Instagram. She wrote, “I acknowledge how lucky I am to have had that access,” and then she announced she had tested positive.

Her next mistake was documenting her family’s move to the Hamptons.

The Pundit’s Mantra

Make no mistake, brands have always preyed on people’s fears and insecurities in order to sell them stuff. When the going was good, influencers were a great investment for brands. It cost them a lot less money than a traditional ad campaign and the ROI was a lot easier to measure. However, as budgets dry up and travel halts down, it will be interesting to see how and where brands start making cuts.

In this day and age, content is king. If you can be a trusted advisor or a subject matter expert, you can do a lot more to help your reader community instead of just being an Instagram celebrity. Each person has every right to choose whatever profession he or she wants, but there are always pros and cons. As things get shaken up big time, let’s hope that the new normal is better for all of us.

What do you think about the celebrity culture that props influencers to shape public opinion in the travel space? Let us know in the comments section.


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