The Ups and Downs in the World of the Travel Influencer 
Wed, April 14, 2021

The Ups and Downs in the World of the Travel Influencer 

Traveling and taking pictures of where you’ve been is now considered a career for some. / Photo by: primagefactory via 123rf

 

These days almost every IG feed of any influencer successful among their small horde of fans and peers regularly contain at least one island getaway picture, or a hike, a slim, tanned arm touching the clouds, or a half-turned shoulder and a radiant smile—the hallmark of what makes a vacation as visually appealing to the audience and to the content sponsor. 

This is influencer behavior that’s common in the platform, but there are influencers out there whose content focuses on globe-trotting.

Traveling sure is great, whether you are an influencer or not, but did our view on travel—especially those done in countries with cultures that can easily be appropriated—become perverted by the kind of oversimplification done by Instagram travelers for the ‘Gram? There are different perspectives on this issue. 

Issue One: ‘Gramming and Traveling

A study has already found that the world of the Instagram influencer has become coveted these past few years, owing to the fact that most young people spend their time on the app. Whether they like it or not, the content is there; #travel is there, and it’s making about 86 percent of young Americans want to become an influencer. 

Okay, that’s great, you know what you want, but after that, how do you go about doing it for the ‘gram in the locations you want to go to? 

The issue of cultural appropriation rears its ugly head here. We’ve heard the same stories: mostly white Western men and women jumping on a plane to a deeply ethnic part of the world to take shots of themselves in tribal garb or something similar while forgetting that culture runs deeper than the aesthetic. How do we amend this? 

Mashable Southeast Asia, a global, multi-platform media and entertainment company, suggests that maybe the answer to this callous Instagram travel behavior already lies within the community; that maybe, all that needs to be done is tweak a few things. 

 

About 86 percent of young Americans want to become an influencer. / Photo by: Mikhail Le-Dantyu via 123rf

 

This is where Jessica Nabongo, an influencer and blogger at Catch Me If You Can, introduces Responsible Storytelling, a travel movement she hopes will give influencers a more well-rounded view on travel. 

To advocate for this, Nabongo tells her 175,000 followers how traveling is as much about experiencing and getting up-close-and-personal with culture as much as it is about getaways. There just needs to be a balance for both. In her photoset when she went to the Central African Republic, she drew attention away from herself and took the time to document the people living in the country—what their life was like there, who they were, and how all that experience enriched Nabongo as a person. 

It is a simple way to show the world where you’ve been, not to mention a meatier, more raw example of the kind of adventures you can have while on a trip. It’s not just about those pretty selfies, it’s about the people around you too. 

Issue Two: Established Influencers’ Rocky Careers

Although most people will find it laughable that traveling and taking pictures of where you’ve been is now considered a career for some, the people who do these things want nothing more than to be respected for their work. Naysayers, in this new field, are pretty par for the course, but what influencers really want is that they at least be taken seriously by brands and companies. 

In an anonymous interview with DigiDay, an online trade magazine for online media, a travel influencer illustrated just how arduous the charge of being an influencer is. His biggest frustration is that nobody seems to understand that there’s a lot more going on behind a picture on Instagram.

He further explained that influencing is more like a small business than a hobby. It puts the influencer in the position of a writer, a photographer, a marketer, an advertiser, and their own PR. It also involves staying on social media for a long time, always on high alert in case a PR battle barrels into a recent post, which happens quite a lot and can be very detrimental to their very public careers. 

Add that to the fact that a new “Like Ban” will be in place now on Instagram, which, according to business news site Forbes, was decided by the company as a way to support the mental health of those on the platform by not showing them the number of likes a post is getting unless they are the owner of the account they are looking at. 

It’s creating ripples of concern and cynicism in the influencers who are still doing what they do today, but Forbes believed that the new ban will at least give brands and influencers a non-judgmental ground to stand on before any kind of business can occur. 
It will certainly help micro-influencers the most, especially since big brands won’t be able to view the likes of one post, determine how few they are compared to bigger influencers and give them cheaper offers based off it, which is something the travel influencer also said is the technique that big brands use against micro-influencers.