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Are reviews by travel bloggers trustable? [Travel]

The Morning Call

By Fridah Mlemwa

What is the first thing you do when you think of traveling somewhere? I bet you go online to check it out. Did you know 6 in 10 people use social media to choose travel destinations? A research by ValuePenguin says so.

The internet is an information mine for today’s travelers. 92% of travelers trust reviews and make informed decision based on their online research and 89% of millennials plan their travel activities based on content posted by their peers online according to a reasearch by Forbes.

This has provided an opportunity for entrepreneurial minds. Leading to the emergence of social media influencers or digital content creators who include vlogers, bloggers, podcasters, photographers etc that have captured a market estimated at $2 billion in 2017 and is set to reach $10 billion by 2020, according to AdWeek.

I talked to three social media influencers in travel from across Africa, Zeinab Fashola, Jared Ruttenberg, Amarachi Ekekwe about their work. What is it that they share online ?

“I create the dream of it, like you know, show you what you can do if you to that place and so in away it kinda sells that destination without it being a monetary sell. It is more of a thing like hey, you wanna come to Tunisia, here is what you can do and here is what I did, so if you wanna do it, here is where I went to go do it and maybe they can help you also do the same thing I did,” said Zeinab.

“The beauty of working as a travel writer in South Africa is that there is just an endless amount of places, people, wine farms, restaurants, to profile, to review and to experience and so as a result of that essentially no one place I think gets oversold, there is enough variety to keep me moving in multiple different directions,” said Jared.

“A lot of what you hear in Nigeria when you ask people about travel is that, things like, I don’t have the money to travel, I am afraid to travel solo, my friends don’t want to travel with me, and I am like, this is me, I have been able to do that on a limited budget and here is how I did it, that’s what I share on my travel blog,” said Amarachi.

With all the costs of traveling, money being an influence in the content they share, how do they operate?

“Does it fund my lifestyle ? No it does not. Its just simply an accent to my lifestyle,whereit doesn’t really fund my overhead costs that I incur everyday when I travel. Like what I earn in a year from my blog probably pays for one week of my travel,” said Zeinab.

“With my case I also offer different places photography, so not only do I go to write about a place but I also offer professional photography and in addition to that we look at publishing the place somewhere,” said Jared.

“I think travel blogging is just like any other business, the amount of time and resources you are willing to put into it to make it a profitable business is what makes it stands out or what makes it as profitable as you want,” said Amarachi.

With the success of social media influencers 72 percent of major company brands are dedicating a sizable portion of their marketing budgets to influencers according to the influencer management platform Tracckr. If not properly done, this can disappoint.

Nelson Mandela Bay in Eastern Cape South Africa campaign to attract tourists to the area using social media influencers flopped and worse generated a backlash from onliner users. The seaside metropolis invited a group of 12 celebrities, including some of SA’s top influencers to promote their tourism month but they failed to deliver and were bashed online. So organizations have to be careful on identifying and contracting the right influencers.

We sort to find if online users understand who, a social media influencer is, and according to 97 percent of our 30 correspondents they know who they are. 24 of the 30 people who responded to our survey said they follow a social media influencer and 53 percent of them have actually traveled, shopped and eaten because someone on social media posted about it. Although only 6 of our correspondents could name a legit social media influencer they know online.

But don’t we all just want to travel and brag about it on social media? well, every photo, every comment shared is a form of review so remember to be honest.

For all matters travel, hit me up on twitter @fmlemwa

The Morning Call

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The Morning Call

The Morning Call is about you. We want to share your opinions on our programme. If you want to contribute to The Morning Call, here are the best ways to get in touch : For more details on how to contribute, click here.