Nicole Tj
October 12, 2022

Evolution of travel creators - Part Two

Creators are already changing how we discover, plan and book travel - we just don’t see the full picture yet.

We believe that creators are crucial to the future of travel, and our mission at Travis is to empower a new generation of travel creators to earn. This is Part 2 three-part blog series, exploring:

  • Part 1: New Generation of Travel Creators - who are they, and what is their superpower?
  • Part 2: Evolution of travel creators - the shifts and challenges that converge to this tipping point
  • Part 3: Creator-led Commerce for the Future of Travel - a win-win-win for the industry

Evolution of travel creators: How has the world changed for travel creators over the last 10 years?

Gone are the days that the term ‘travel influencer’ sparked images of girls in long red dresses on the top of snowy ice-capped mountains. What started as creative and artistic expression for the perfect ‘gram has slowly but surely evolved into a hub and generation of travel information givers.

We believe there are 4 key factors driving this behavioral shift, for both creators and consumers when it comes to travel:

  1. Shift in trust from institution to individual - Creators are building incredible trust and credibility as a source of not just visual inspiration, but of valuable information and first-person, tried and true travel tips and recommendations. Aided by social media platforms, they are today’s Lonely Planet guidebooks, travel TV shows, CN Traveler issues, and Intrepid tours - producing more content - that is more personal, more niche, more diverse - distributed more widely, and more quickly, than ever before. In fact, 61% of Gen Zs say they buy products they’ve seen discussed by creators, and 63% trust content from individuals as much or more than content from big news and media.
  1. Creators are fast becoming a possible and recognised career path. Even aspirational. 45% of Gen Z creators want to own a business and make money from content shared online. The fact that ‘creator’ is even recognised as a career path right now, is saying a lot. We owe this to the rise of the ‘side hustle culture’ that millennials drove, and Gen Zs are taking it one step further - turning a project into a career. Additionally, with the rise of remote working and flexible “Work from Anywhere” corporate policies, the prospect of traveling while working goes beyond full time influencers, to anyone who is able to work remotely while managing the day-to-day of your workplace expectations.
  1. Information over aesthetic inspiration - From a content perspective, information is now just as important, if not more important than just something looking good. It is not uncommon today to be scrolling on Instagram to find out about daily world news, compared to reading a newspaper or digital publication. This says a lot about people’s behaviors, expectations and trust of content. Travel influencers have evolved with this and recognised this shift - a lot of them put in incredible amounts of time and effort not just to create content at high frequency, but to value add with information especially in travel.
  1. Expected path to purchase - Consumers have gotten acquainted with, and even expect that scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest could not only help inspire them - but also lead to a purchase of a product. Appetite and adoption varies across industries - fashion and beauty are ahead in this curve. We see one offs with travel influencers (i.e. get 20% off this product/experience when you use my code in the next 10 days). But there is not yet a system for more travel creators to reliably earn some recurring income - in the same way that fashion and beauty industries have managed to support influencer or creator-led shopping.

So what are challenges faced by Travel Creators?

There are more creators, creating more travel content that is more sought after and trusted by their followers than ever before. Yet technology to support these creators are lacking, immature at best - especially in the travel industry.

“Don’t you get to travel the world for free?”

The biggest myth in the travel creator/influencer world, is that creators travel for free, doing nothing but have fun in cool new destinations with all-expenses paid. Having been a creator myself, and in working with countless creators over the years - this couldn’t be further from the truth.

It’s true that anyone can post up #travelspam for the memories of your fave Euro summer. It is also true that TikTok has allowed more people to go viral off seemingly everyday posts, giving a taste of ‘influencer’ status for a hot moment. It is relatively easy these days to get product or experiences in exchange for posting on socials - but it is much, much harder for creators to grow and earn a sustainable income.

More importantly, income opportunities are unevenly distributed - the top 1.4% creators on Spotify rake in 90% of royalties. The fast-growing segment of micro-creators need a path - or systems - in order to drive sustainable creation and growth.

So then, how do creators make money?

Our research found that, for creators who were already earning via brands, that over 90% of their creator income comes from brand deals. However, this only makes up 10% of their content. This highlights the lost opportunity here from the vast majority of content that is created today.

Brand deals (or paid collabs) are the main way creators earn an income - but this should not be THE only source of creator income. Why?

  1. Transactional, non-recurring, project-based income - because these are mostly one-off deals, the shelf life of content rarely makes it past 24 hours, and creators have to constantly be on the lookout for the next opportunity.
  2. High barrier to earning - how do you position your unique value as a micro-creator, how much should you charge, how do you even go about talking to brands? In reality, creators also spend lots of time identifying, pitching via DMs and emails, negotiating with brands, especially to line up consecutive projects
  3. Finite influencer budget - naturally, it’s impossible for brands to work with all creators.

To nurture travel creators as a core of the future of the travel industry, we ask: How can we support and empower creators in building diversified income streams - and what opportunities are there to generate recurring income through content that creators are already creating?

Of course, there are multiple, extended ways that travel creators today are earning money. We’ve focused on brand deals as the main source, approx 90% of creator income for micro-creators. If there’s interest in a deep-dive for other creator sources of income, or other related questions - write in at nicole@travistravis.co, I’d love to hear your perspective.

This post is the Part 2 of Part 1: The New Generation of Travel Creators.

Read on for Part 3: Creator-led Commerce for the Future of travel.

If you’re a creator, get started with Bookable Links. If you’re a traveler, plan your trips on Moodboards. If you’re a hotel, find out more. Want to share a related experience or perspective? Email hello@travistravis.co.

Plan your next trip with our free travel app

Whether it's a road trip, solo trip or group trip, Travis easily helps you and your friends create beautiful, visual interactive Moodboards of your ideas in one place.

Visual trip planner with place on the left and map on the right