The hotel industry is rapidly changing. An element of this transformation is influencer marketing, which is fundamentally affecting how we consume travel based content.
However, as influencer marketing continues to evolve, questions can arise about how creators operate in certain spaces and whether creativity is being compromised. There is a lingering misunderstanding that hotels and influencers don’t get on. Whether it’s due to the Elle Darby ‘scandal’ or simply the leveraging of likes for freebies, a level of scepticism can dilute the potential of these conversations - something that can be solved with a better matchmaking process.
Our recent collaboration with Hyatt’s luxury lifestyle brand, Andaz™ has proved to be a giant leap in the right direction for hotels and creators. Through this collaboration, Whalar has produced multiple creative assets, tapped into engaged audiences and showcased how carefully sourced talent can boost a brand's presence in the right places.
According to Hotel Speak, a total 97% of all millennials currently share their travel snaps on social media. Moreover, 87% of that same demographic are consequently inspired to visit a location from content they’ve viewed on social media.
Yes, the idea of sharing holiday photos to make your friends jealous isn’t exactly a new concept. However, what these figures do tell us is the vast and entirely influential space that Hotel brands can tap into with the right creators to hand.
This, coupled with the rise of Adblocker, Airbnb and online booking agencies, has only increased the importance of driving direct traffic to brands such as Andaz. Indeed, the creators who can effectively translate a bespoke experience to relevant audiences are key to unlocking this traffic.
Approaching Andaz With a Clear Plan.
- Laura Picken, Regional Director Field Marketing, Hyatt // Europe, CIS, Turkey:
“Some internal questions arose during the process around whether it was necessary to hire an agency to work with influencers when we could contact them ourselves and not pay a fee. However, it was important to me that we really pushed for content that was eye-catching, unique and different from what our hotels are already using. We got this from our relationship with Whalar. Based on the brief provided, they curated a solid list of creatives to choose from, most of which I would never have found on my own. Additionally, they handled a lot of the planning and travel details which becomes very daunting when you are working with several creatives at the same time for a single campaign. I would definitely use Whalar for future campaigns.”
The aim of the campaign: to disrupt the traditional holiday experience by leveraging creative content that is unconventional and stimulates an artistic narrative for the brand.
Fundamentally, this was achieved through a flexible brief and a carefully employed matchmaking process. The initial idea being that we would commision fewer creators, but of higher quality. This would then allow an established and extended affiliation with the brand by providing multiple content creation opportunities.
By offering a transparent relationship with Andaz from the very start, we concentrated on a shared goal between client and creator to create beautiful imagery. The Hotel Staff at Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht were made fully aware of each creator’s needs, fueling the essence of collaboration and allowing for an unrestricted content creation process. By investing in seasoned creators, and a shared belief system across both parties, the quality of content was never in a position to be compromised by diverging interests.
A creator who undoubtedly flourished on this campaign, Lily Rose, also discussed the importance of only using the creators who you feed can organically represent that brand.
“I think that artistic trust within the creators is the key to a successful campaign. The brand needs to pick the right artist in the first place, the one with the style and aesthetic wanted, so the artist can have the freedom he/she needs to create. Not trusting the creator will create artistic boundaries; the most beautiful work always comes out only when the artist has the freedom to create.”
Bridging Commercial and Creative.
Regarding the shifting travel industry, since 2018, over 40% of under 33s prioritise ‘Instagrammability’ when choosing their holiday spots (Forbes). In other words, the visual importance of translating a unique experience cannot be underestimated. This belief system fueled Andaz’s investment within a narrative that focusses on ‘Sensory’ experiences, to foster a greater artistic purpose through the content.
Creators now have the ability to present a tailored experience that can resonate with their followers. By leveraging an entirely influential space, hotel brands are able to remove the barrier that traditional advertising has previously separated them from the consumer.
Undeniably powerful from @musesuniform
Capitalising on this, we empowered our creators to focus on the artistic flair that separates them from the rest. Constructed through the campaign’s sensory elements - touch, taste, sounds, sight, scent, - we were able to hasten the departure from the convention travel images to content that really sticks.
While reaching out to the creators involved, it became increasingly clear that the investment within their own-branding helped draw such positive results. Rosie Hardy is known for bridging the gap between fantasy and aspirational realism, it seems only fitting we asked for her take on how brands should approach artistic licence when collaborating.
“The core of great art, regardless of whether brand sponsored or not, is authenticity. I feel the word itself has become diluted in social media terms recently - to me, authenticity is synonymous with vulnerability, to not always presenting the best side of yourself, to sometimes talk about taboo topics and to risk what's socially accepted. People are advertised at 24/7 in the media, on television, and so it makes sense that social media would follow suit.
However - that doesn't mean, as an artist, that you should drop your style as soon as you hear the rustle of money. Quite the opposite - the brand has approached you because they appreciate your style and message, and so staying true to that is imperative. I think content creators and artists have a duty to also choose brands that mirror their message, too, to stay true to themselves. You have to be willing to say "no, thank you" to things that don't serve you, to maintain trust and respect with your audience.”
"To be honest, when I first got the email through (without seeing photographs of Andaz), my initial thought was "no way". Advertising a hotel on paper sounds so uninspiring - I relate hotels to blandness, spaces filled with tables and bare walls, nothing inspiring there. But after seeing the photographs of Andaz, I was just blown away. I've never seen so many locations in one place that can be interpreted and photographed in so many ways. I had a list of around 10 ideas for the project, and in the end, I actually ran out of time for them.
"Trust is imperative. Allow the creators to brainstorm a few ideas, and the brand can collaborate with the artist on the strongest idea. Encouraging art not to feature products (unless it's in a creative, and engaging way), I think, is also important. Consumers aren't stupid and most people think for themselves - brands face an uphill challenge with conquering the hashtag ad taboo. Allow your creator to be themselves, to interpret their product through their own eyes, and encourage that honesty between producer and consumer - and to me, that's a recipe for great art, honest advertising, respect for brands and happy relationships!”
Learnings and Findings
The idea of interpretation is particularly relevant when working in a city such as Amsterdam. As a global tourist destination for the decades, it has been captured and shared across generations of tourists. Although many are aware of how beautiful it is, when marketing the city as a contemporary destination, it has become increasingly for creators to translate a unique experience to entice adventurous consumers back in.
Looking at Rosie’s and Lily’s experience on the campaign, as well as all the other content generated, it highlights the importance of leveraging innovation and individualistic insight to reignite excitement. It is this level of relevant creativity that proved essential to the campaign’s sparkling success.
Touch, with @musesuniform
As Laura - Regional Director of Field Marketing at Hyatt - reiterates, focusing on the creator’s unique abilities is fundamental. Followers, previous accolades and tight briefs all fall short if the creator can’t bring something new to the brand.
Ultimately, the best work is always unexpected.
“We did not outline the exact content we wanted to get from each individual, rather, we chose unique content creators with particular skill sets and encouraged creativity within their niches. At Andaz, we believe that the only true way to embrace a locale is to experience it through every one of the senses, and the creatives Whalar connected us with were able to bring those senses to life.”
Not only is the content of an industry leading quality, it is also completely on-brand; both for client and creator alike.
Stimulating organic engagement on branded content often requires that little extra creative edge. By supporting each creator’s talent by giving them trust and space to produce their best work, we have garnered multiple assets that have entrenched value for the client. More than this, each piece of content possesses with it a significant re-purposing value for Andaz via three years of digital usage rights.
Effortless style from @the_adventuresosus
Creativity can add a new voice to your brand, a different dimension that cannot be achieved in-house or via a traditional adverting method; we think the content from this campaign speaks for itself, at a fraction of the cost.
Last word from Laura (we couldn’t resist):
“It’s been a pleasure working with the team at Whalar. They have been extremely responsive and collaborative. And genuinely happy with the outcome as well, which is refreshing.”
For any further information on this campaign, or any others, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org