I walked into my fifth restaurant of the trip, a place in central Stockholm called Riche. As had become the custom, we were handed flutes of champagne and seated immediately. The bistro’s owner sat next to me as we laughed, uploaded to Instagram and finished our meal free of charge. Sometime around that point I thought, “This is mental.”
Just four months earlier, I published my rickety attempt at a WordPress blog. Now, I’m being wined and dined in Scandinavia courtesy of StockholmLGBT and their partners.
If you ask me what I do, I’ll tell you I’m a guy who travels and talks about it. But in other words, I’m an influencer. Instagram is packed with people like me. And the rapid growth in influencer tourism marketing is understandable – it works. We’ve documented these trends in MMGY Global’s Portrait of American Travelers and in our upcoming profile of the social media traveler, which will be released in the first quarter of 2019.
In my niche, the focus is gay travel. Because in a landscape of pinkwashing, more and more LGBTQ people turn to influencers to find the brands that actually care about them instead of those who commodify pride for personal gain.
That’s why I travel.
I went from a cave in Springfield to the ABBA Museum of Stockholm (within a week!) to find an experience that travelers of every orientation can connect with. On my blog, whether the travel is sponsored or personal, I search for the best in every destination. And I try to be authentic – or as authentic as one can be when receiving hundreds of dollars in comped flights, hotels, meals and amusement. Because what everyone really wants is place that feels authentic to them.
Influencer marketing is a powerful tool for every target audience, LGBTQ and otherwise. Essentially, it’s online word of mouth advertising – the most effective marketing of all. I’d encourage every destination to adopt an influencer strategy, no matter how big or small the market is (especially when that strategy includes me).
Hear Ryan talk about LGBTQ travel on Coastless, a podcast about travelers from the Midwest. The conversation starts at the 8:20 mark.