All expenses paid trips for influencers: do they work?

Can you imagine going on an all expense paid, first class travel accommodations,
five star hotel, compensated vacation that is literally straight out of a travel
channel show? Well, that is the reality for many influencers nowadays.

Brands shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars to take these influencers on
these trips, and all they have to do is promote the whole experience on their
social media channels. Where can I sign up?? And it happens more often than you
would believe.

But does it work?

Well, kinda sorta. It depends on budget and execution.

For one, there’s obviously large costs associated with sponsoring trips.
However, the participants pose as models for the brand, and can resonate better
with the brand’s audience. It can show consumers how the product or service
would look and feel with real people interacting with it.

Sponsored trips done right

Revolve, a mid-range female centered clothing
company, has been sending influencers all over the world for their newest
campaign: #RevolveAroundTheWorld. Most recently they have been in Bermuda. The
first week of the trip included many YouTubers, while the second week was
flooded with girls from the Bachelor franchise. On a strategic level, this was a
wise decision to better reach their targeted network.


Tarte Cosmetics is another brand that often
splurges on these luxe vacations. One of their most expensive getaways was to
Bora Bora, an island in French Polynesia. Tarte paid for at least a dozen of
these influencers to stay in the beauitful Four Seasons hotel in these dreamy
over the water bungalows. The least expensive room at the hotel is still over a
thousand dollars a night. Over a dozen influencers and a several night stay… you
do the math.


Sponsored trips gone wrong

One of the biggest controversies was over the brand Benefit
. They, like the other brands
mentioned are guilty of taking their influencers on an over the top trips, while
potentially have spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, but are definitely
lacking on the product development side. Many consumers were upset that the
brand was spending so much of their budget on these promotional vacations rather
than making their products better and more inclusive. The biggest complaint-
their original foundation only came in nine shades, most of which were on the
lighter end of the spectrum. Consumers argued that the brand was not being
responsible in respect to their customers.


The Fyre Music Festival was another influencer endorsed vacation that ended
really badly. While the Fyre Music Festival wasn’t exclusive to influencers, the
promotional video that was used included some of Instagram’s biggest names. They
were shown having the time of their lives on the beautiful beaches of the
Bahamas. The festival was like nothing ever before, maybe even the “next
coachella,” so it obviously attracted many people to spend the thousands of
dollars in pursuit of an amazing experience. However, when the big spenders
landed on the island, they realized it was nothing like they ever could have
imagined. What was supposed to be beautiful villas were actually just pitched
tents on the beach, some even lacking a mattress. And the chef prepared food?
Well, you can see for yourself.


So where did it go wrong? Some of these brands spend their budgets on famous
faces, while that money could be better spent on product development or basic
needed infrastructure.

Alas sponsored trips may not be all that bad! If carried out right (given that
you have the budget for it) sponsored trips can drive greater exposure while
connecting with target consumers through a virtual experiential way. Think of it
from the consumer perspective. They see familiar faces, relatable people,
collaborating with favorite brands in a very interactive way. It tells a story.
And stories are the best way to distinguish yourself from the other brands in
your industry.