The Travel Influencer: The First Research of Its Kind

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(Last updated on: 28/07/2021)

The travel influencer is a relatively new concept. Organisations are turning to us influencers more and more as a result of our ‘trustworthy’ relationship with their [potential] customers. They want us to market their products and promote their services. They want us to help them make money.

In the past decade the number of travel influencers has exploded. Kids are making YouTube videos about their visit to the theme park, twenty-somethings are blogging about their gap year and parents are writing reviews about the best baby carrier. But how much do we really know about these travel influencers?

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Hayley Stainton. I am a University Lecturer teaching tourism and aviation management. I am also a travel blogger and influencer (for more about me, visit my about me page). Recently, something struck me about the world of blogging and influencing – there has been no credible research into this area. So I set out to change this…

travel influencer

The travel influencer: the research

I have been contacted on a number of occasions by companies requesting a ‘do-follow’ link or a Tweet as a gesture of goodwill, or in exchange for a product review or maybe even some money. But how much is this worth? What should I charge? What do other people charge for this kind of thing? I turned to the Internet for answers, but found little guidance.

So the academic in me decided to take on a new project. Working with a colleague from Sheffield Hallam University, we have been working on this now for over a year. I am now in a position to share with you some of my key findings, which are listed below. You can also download a full copy of the report here.  

You might also be interested in my post- How to earn £30,000 per month as an influencer | Influencer Income 

The travel influencer research: key findings

See below the key findings resulting from the research. I will publish a more detailed post about each area over the coming weeks. Once these are live there will be a hyperlink added.

1-Most people define themselves as a travel influencer, but not everyone

Clearly some clarity about what exactly a ‘travel influencer’ is is needed. I propose a definition with a detailed explanation of what a travel influencer is in this post- ‘What is a Travel Influencer? Travel influencer Defined’

2- Most people use their blog, Facebook and Twitter to influence

These are the most popular social media platforms amongst travel influencers, although this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the best! The average number of is 4500 on Facebook and 10,400 on Twitter.

3- Most people are amateurs on social media

There are only a few ‘elite’ travel influencers who have a significantly larger social media following than most. This typically represents 2-5% of travel influencers.

4- Most people update their blog/website at least once a week

If you want to become a travel influencer you need to be motivated to publish at least one post each week to keep up with other influencers in your area.

6- Most people update Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest more than twice a week

These are the most popular social media platforms that are updated regularly by travel influencers.

7- Snapchat, YouTube, Google+, Linkedin and Tumblr are rarely updated

Many of us have these social media accounts, but we don’t use them regularly.

8- Most people do not pay to increase the reach of their social media posts

You know when Facebook repeatedly e-mails you about promoting your post? Yep, well that’s because most of us aren’t doing it.

9- The average amount spent on social media promotion is £37

When we do promote our posts, we don’t spend a lot.

10- Most influencers do not purchase followers, likes etc, but they do take part in ‘like for like’ threads or similar mutual exchange activities

You’ve probably heard the debate about ‘buying’ followers. Well, it turns out that most of us are not doing that (or at least we are not admitting that we do it).

11- The majority of respondents write reviews in exchange for a free item or service

Reviews are very popular and can save you lots of money in the long run!

12-Almost half of influencers charge for do-follow links at an average of £190

Despite the regular e-mails that I get asking me to add a ‘do-follow’ link into a blog post (usually for very little money or for free), it seems that most travel influencers are not succumbing to this. You can read more about what influencers are charging for ‘do-follow’ links here

13- The average DA score is 26

Wondering if your score needs improving? Now you know where you stand compared to the average travel influencer.

14- The higher the DA score, the more influencers charge for a do-follow link

I think this is pretty obvious, but important to prove nonetheless.

15- The majority of travel influencers work with marketing agencies

Marketing agencies can be great at sending regular work your way. It appears that most of us are involved with marketing agencies one way or another.

16- The majority of travel influencers do label when their content has been gifted/sponsored

This has been in the media a bit lately. Despite claims though, it seems that most of us are doing what we are told.

17- Most travel influencers do it because they enjoy it

It’s the best kind of work isn’t it, the kind you enjoy?

18- Most travel influencers are part-time

Most of us have another job or work part time hours.

19- Most travel influencers have worked in the area of or studied marketing

Seeing as there are inextricable links between marketing and influencing, it seems to be of benefit to have studied or worked in marketing. Lots of travel influencers actually work in marketing alongside influencing.

20- Monthly income ranges from £0-£30,000 per month, with an average travel influencer income of £1100

There is a huge range between the highest and the lowest salaries and surprisingly there is no correlation between part time and full time. In fact, the highest paid travel influencers identified themselves as part time influencers!

21- Male influencers earn 6x more than female influencers

This is perhaps representative of society, but a disappointing figure nonetheless. Lets hope the gender gay decreases in years to come…

22- Most travel influencers are women

Working from home part time while looking after the kids? Why not become a travel influencer!

23- The average age of a travel influencer is 34

Does this mean I’m a young travel influencer?! (I’m 31)

24- The majority of travel influencers are European or American

Yep, it’s pretty trendy to be a travel influencer in Europe or America right now.

So that was a super quick snapshot of my results. For a detailed look at the figures and how I have come to these main findings, feel free to download a copy of the full report. Don’t worry, I’ve cut out all of the academic jargon- I’m saving that for Annals of Tourism! I hope you enjoy reading through the findings and please do let me know if you have any further questions – drop your comments below or send me an e-mail.

26 Comments
  1. Danial

    The academic in me is very excited about your research!

    One thing I learn from your summary is Asian travel bloggers and writers earn much less in Asia for their work.

    Reply
    • Hayley

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds it interesting! Haha I will be publishing a few more posts analysing specific areas over the coming weeks too

      Reply
  2. Waren Jean

    Wow! This is really accurate. Blogging and influencing has become a competitive business that you can’t really tell the authenticity of the content. Great research you got there.

    Reply
    • Hayley

      Thanks Warren, glad you found it interesting!

      Reply
  3. soonjoo

    This is very interesting research of travel influencers. I didn’t know male traveler makes 6 times more than female traveler! I’m sure blogging and traveling at the same time might be challenging with limited access to internet if you are full-time travler.

    Reply
    • Hayley

      I know, shocking isn’t it!

      Reply
  4. Amber Myers

    Interesting. I don’t know much about travel influencers since I don’t travel much often. But I do like to follow other people’s adventures.

    Reply
  5. Joan

    This is really nice to know.moalty about the do follow links and social media. We usually never get to see what’s behind the scenes.

    Reply
  6. Keshia Richmond

    Thanks for your research on travel bloggers. This info I suspect is useful for bloggers of all types.

    Reply
  7. kumamonjeng

    I have a good read about this post as it is closely related to me. I blogs weekly on places I visited as I travel very often. I started about 2 years ago and now have compiled over 300 blogs. I love your question and answer format in this post. It gives me a very strong understanding of which area that I still need to work at.

    Reply
  8. Vivienne Singer

    You mention that most people are not ‘buying’ followers. I so hope that’s true!

    Reply
  9. Suman Doogar

    Thats some research. In my country there are more no. of female travel influencers as compared to men but I agree even with less number they get paid more.

    Reply
  10. Latte Lindsay

    That is some amazing research, everyone thinks that blogging as a business is easy but those results show a very competitive business.

    Reply
  11. Dalene Ekirapa

    I think it’s funny that most travel influencers are women yet make influencers are paid 6x more. I’d really want to know why. Anyway, since I’m also getting into the travel space, knowing this is great!

    Reply
  12. Sarah Meh

    This is new to know that a male travel influencer earns more than a female. Thanks for sharing your key findings. That’s great that you’ll write about each finding in detail. Would love to read about all.

    Reply
  13. Joanna

    Some very interesting results here, especially the parts related to how much they charge. Also, interesting that most of the respondents are part time bloggers.

    Reply
  14. Lori Canoy

    It would be awesome to be a paid traveler blogger! This would be something to aspire to!

    Reply
  15. Runcanvas

    Interesting research. What is a do-follow list? And a DA score?

    Reply
    • Hayley

      If you check the article I have given definitions!

      Reply
  16. Terri

    You have shared some great information for other niches to learn as well. I have always wondered how much time influences spend blogging and promoting themselves in social media. You have a very fun niche!

    Reply
  17. What Corinne Did

    These are such interesting findings on travel influencers. So disappointed that male influencers do 6 times more though.

    Reply
  18. Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen

    Many are getting into travel influencing but only a few make it. I loved reading through your research. IT’s very thorough.

    Reply
  19. Swathi

    Thanks for sharing wonderful information yes blogging is always related social promotion. But as usual content is the king.

    Reply
  20. Amber S.

    Seeing these statistics was really eye opening. I’m a Lifestyle Blogger, but I’ve been crossing paths lately with a lot of travel bloggers. This research was really helpful to showing me their side of things.

    Reply
  21. Jimmy Ahyari

    Thanks for sharing excellent content. You have shared some spectacular tips which are very useful in this scenario.

    Reply
    • Hayley

      You’re welcome, I hope you find it useful!

      Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. How much can I charge for a ‘do-follow’ link? | Lifeasabutterfly - […] the two together, I recently undertook a project to investigate travel influencers, see- ‘The Travel Influencer: The First Research…
  2. Travel Influencer income: How much can I earn per month? | Lifeasabutterfly - […] is just one of the things that I examined in my recent research project investigating the profiles of influencers…
  3. What is a Travel Influencer? Travel influencer Defined | Lifeasabutterfly - […] is just one of the things that I examined in my recent research project investigating the profiles of influencers…
  4. How to earn £30,000 per month as an influencer | Influencer Income | Lifeasabutterfly - […] published in a series of blog posts on Lifeasabutterfly. If you’re interested you can find a summary of the…
  5. Insta tourism explained: What, why and where | Lifeasabutterfly - […] the role of cognition, emotion and trust in online marketing. I have also done some research into influencers themselves…
  6. How to earn £30,000 per month as an influencer | Influencer Income - Tourism Teacher - […] published in a series of blog posts on Lifeasabutterfly. If you’re interested you can find a summary of the…

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Dr Hayley Stainton

Hi, I'm Dr Hayley Stainton

Through Tourism Teacher I share my knowledge on the principles and practice of travel and tourism management from both an academic and practical perspective.

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