After my first sponsored travel opportunity, I was bitten hard by the travel blogging bug. With complimentary transportation, amazing food, memorable experiences, and compensation, what’s not to love? How to get paid to travel is still a bit of mystery to most. So I spoke to travel marketing company MMGY Global to learn what adventurous bloggers can do to secure lucrative travel partnerships. But first, let’s review the basics.
Who To Connect With
As a blogger, consider reaching out to travel marketing companies and destination marketing organizations (DMO) for sponsored travel opportunities. My first travel sponsorship was with MMGY Global (MMGY), a travel marketing company, and its client, VisitKC, a DMO. What is the difference? A DMO (VisitKC) promotes a particular location to increase visitors to the area. A travel marketing company (MMGY) is hired as a consultant for DMOs. Sometimes travel marketing companies contact bloggers for influencer campaigns. And sometimes bloggers can work directly with a DMO.
In this example, MMGY devised a strategy on behalf of VisitKC to drive travelers to Kansas City. For my collaboration, MMGY provided a shortlist of bloggers for VisitKC to choose from for the trip. MMGY designed the trip experience, made hotel reservations, acted as the blogger guide, secured blog content for the client, and compensated bloggers on behalf of the client.
Aside from DMOs, MMGY also works with other players in the travel industry such as airlines, hotels, cruise lines (see here for example), and more. Overall, bloggers may find a more diverse range of travel collaborations with a travel marketing company than with a DMO.
Think Like a Travel Marketing Company
These days, online consumers don’t just visit a city’s tourism website to research vacations. The average traveler seeks out multiple online sources, such as a favorite travel blogger, to make vacation decisions. Travel marketers identify bloggers who have trusted voices that align with their client’s brand. If you are the right voice, you’ll be able to convince your readers to book a similar experience.
When pitching yourself to travel marketing companies, think about how you can meet their client’s needs. As an influencer, you should curate authentic content that effectively generates awareness for their client’s interests.
In your pitch, address how you may generate awareness by:
- Driving traffic to a client’s website or social media accounts;
- Increasing video views, blog reads, downloads, etc. on client sites;
- Providing backlinks to client sites;
- Growing a client’s social media impressions & followers or email subscribers;
- Or increasing participation in contests or giveaways.
How to Work with a Company Like MMGY Global
Let’s get to the fun part. I spoke to Kelsey Chabot, Social & Experiential Marketing Coordinator at MMGY, about the company’s influencer marketing division. She shared important tips and tricks that bloggers should know before crafting an outreach strategy.
What types of travel influencer collaborations does MMGY offer?
MMGY mostly sends influencers on trips to different locations. We’ve hosted bloggers on cruises, weekend trips from drive markets, trips to Europe, etc., and paid for airfare. We’ve also done simpler collaborations, such as Instagram takeovers and sponsorships. Since our clients are travel brands, all of our collaborations have a travel focus. But we do work with lifestyle, food, and fashion bloggers and just about everyone in between!
What do you look for when selecting travel bloggers?
It varies with each client. Overall we look for an engaged following (on social media and on the blog), an active and well-designed blog, and a generally positive tone in their writing or communication with us. We want a blogger’s content to feel authentic, even if it is a sponsored post. We don’t want posts about our clients to sound “salesy” so we try to give influencers creative liberty with their posts.
Each client typically has a different requirement in terms of the size of a blogger’s social following. We also look at Unique Monthly Views (UMV) if it’s available, as a higher UMV results in a higher number of potential impressions for our clients.
Describe the type of blog content that impresses you and your clients.
I’m always impressed when bloggers find new, creative ways to talk about the client. We’ve had some bloggers do trip-inspired recipes, scavenger hunts for kids, videos from the trip, etc.
I also always love reading travel guides to different places. When multiple bloggers are on a trip and doing the same activities, it’s fun to see everyone’s unique take on the destination. In general, the clients and I adore content that inspires readers to visit the location.
Clients also enjoy positive comments from inspired readers on blog or social posts. They’re an easy way to immediately demonstrate the value of these trips.
How would a travel blogger go about making the right connections to find a great travel blogging opportunity?
Don’t hesitate to reach out to companies you’re interested in. Make the introduction. Even if there isn’t an immediate opportunity with that company, they may know of someone else who is looking.
Stay connected to as many other travel bloggers as possible and grow that network. Ask blogger friends to recommend companies or brands they have worked with before and request an introduction. Continue to get your name in front of as many people as possible!
Is there anything you would encourage/discourage a potential travel blogger to do when asking about collaborating?
I would encourage bloggers to research MMGY before reaching out to us. It’s always a good sign when a blogger has some knowledge of our company already!
I would discourage them from asking about partnership opportunities with a specific client of ours right away in an email. If you silo yourself into one client, we’re less likely to think of you if an opportunity with a different client comes up.
I would also encourage bloggers to set up a phone call with us (or any other agency they want to work with). This can help you stay much more top of mind than with just an email. And phone calls are better suited for telling us which clients you are most interested in working with.
What incentives do you provide that make travel blogging an amazing opportunity?
I think travel in general is such an amazing opportunity! It’s even better when it’s free. Most of the time our partnerships involve free travel and accommodations, plus an additional compensation to write about your experiences. We work hard on each trip to tailor amazing experiences that the average traveler may not receive or know about. We also have partnerships all over the world that we can connect bloggers to.
What do you imagine the future of travel blogging to encompass?
I imagine it will grow exponentially! I expect to see increasingly creative ways to share content. Video content will likely surge as it has become such a popular sharing tool through Facebook Live, Snapchat, 360 video, and virtual reality. Travel blogging may become more immersive, even for those who may not be able to make the trips themselves. Bloggers will have to continue to create content that allows their audiences to feel like they’ve been there and inspire them to make the trip a reality!
How to Get Paid to Travel Continued
Stay tuned tomorrow for more on how to get paid to travel. I’ll share the other side of the coin: the influencer’s perspective, including lessons learned from seasoned travel blogger Meg Biram.