Don't Trust Your Travels to an Instagram Influencer
In the age of social media, with wanderlust-inducing Instagram feeds and YouTube vlogs abound, travelers have more options than ever before to plan their dream vacations. Two prevalent choices for organizing group trips have emerged: working with a professional travel advisor or opting to sign up for a hosted group trip by a travel influencer. But are these two paths truly equivalent in terms of service and value? As the travel industry continues to evolve, the distinction between a travel influencer and travel advisor needs to be made.
1. Expertise vs. Aspiration
Travel advisors are seasoned experts with training, industry connections, destination knowledge, and a commitment to fulfilling your unique preferences. Whereas travel influencers often bring aspirational content, they may lack professional expertise to know how to handle a situation when things don’t go according to plan.
2. Personalization vs. Pre-packaged Experiences
Travel advisors craft tailor-made itineraries, addressing individual preferences and ensuring a trip is precisely customized to your desires. Influencers typically offer pre-packaged trips designed to suit a wider audience, limiting opportunities for customization.
3. Reliability vs. Popularity
Travel Advisors have a reputation built on trust, with accountability to clients, a code of ethics, and professional standards. Advisors prioritize travelers' safety and will always remain up to date on the latest rules and restrictions of a country their client is traveling to. Influencers may prioritize their personal brand and online presence, which could impact their dedication to group trip participants or in a worst-case scenario, compromise the welfare of travelers.
Helen Maley, Owner of Promal Vacations LLC, had an unfortunate experience when she attended a FAM (familiarization) trip with an influencer at a resort that she says was "barely three-stars." After a few drinks, Maley said the influencer announced to the rest of the advisors that she had to say the resort was wonderful since she wasn’t paying for her stay, when in fact, she didn't like it at all.
A travel advisor offers candid and unbiased assessments of hotels, resorts, or ships, providing an honest evaluation, while influencers typically lean towards predominantly positive reviews, seldom expressing negative opinions.