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A travel blogger (photo: WTM London)

Travel’s ‘digital influencers’ not so influential

In a WTM survey, only 3% of respondents say digital influencers are the most important source of holiday information before making a booking.

As the World Travel Market takes off in London today, the global travel industry event has released new research concluding that ‘digital influencers’ have little impact on people’s holiday choices.

In a survey of 1,025 holidaymakers from the UK, almost eight out of ten of (78%) said they did not look at digital influencers when booking a holiday, with a further 8% saying they researched such influencers but their opinion did not play an important role when booking.

Just 3% of those asked said digital influencers were the most important source of holiday information before a booking.

While review sites such as TripAdvisor, now in its 18th year, continue to be referred to, travellers are increasingly concerned by reports of bogus reviews.

Earlier this month, the Porthminster Beach Café in southwestern England claimed it had been offered the chance to buy good reviews on TripAdvisor. And an investigation by the newspaper The Times in September claimed that up to a third of TripAdvisor reviews may be fake.

The WTM survey results may come as a surprise to some of the UK’s leading social media travel influencers such as YouTube channel FunForLouis and blogger and Instagrammer Rosie Thomas.

Earlier this year, a hotel in Dublin took the step of banning bloggers and social media influencers for their “sense of entitlement”.

Not very believable
Traditional travel writers are starting to hit out at the use of social media in travel, claiming that users often edit out the ugly elements of a trip.

In an October article in The Independent, writer Helen Coffey explained her reasons for refusing to use Instagram saying: “Inevitably it’s the ugly, the uncomfortable or the just plain boring aspects of travel – and of life – that get edited out. Journalists are, first and foremost, storytellers, and the idea of highlighting only the bright and shiny parts of somewhere – the parts guaranteed to garner those all-important likes – doesn’t sit quite right with me.”

Paul Nelson of WTM London, which is being held at ExCeL in the UK capital on November 5 to 7 commented: “Reporting on travel can obviously be a very visual experience and the most popular YouTubers and Instagrammers obviously have tens of thousands of followers, [but] their opinions do not yet seem to be filtering into holiday bookings. Our research seems to show that influencers are not yet quite as influential in the travel world as we may have thought.”

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