Coronavirus Reshaping Landscapes for Travel Influencers

While the world continues to battle the COVID-19 epidemic, it is becoming increasingly clear that the virus might be here for a while. A vaccine is still months away, and even then, it could take as much as 6 months for the situation to be brought under control. This has left numerous industries in a state of confusion. As traveling and tourism around the world remain at a standstill, travel influencers have found themselves at a crossroads.

The gig economy, built upon workers taking up hourly jobs that fit their schedule, has been brought to a sudden halt while numerous other professions have taken a similar plunge. These implications, while still theoretical, have started raising eyebrows over their economic impact.

Travel influencers have long held a reputation as being the carefree, joyful, party-driven individuals that we all fantasize about. By touring and filming themselves on these tours, these influencers can often bank 6-figure sums in a matter of days. Furthermore, most of their trips are sponsored by hotels and sometimes even countries to generate positive publicity.

However, all of that is a thing of the past…for now. Most of the travel influencers’ primary income sources (i.e. airlines, hotel promotions, freelance assignments, travel brands, and travel insurance companies) have come to an abrupt halt. Naturally, most of these influencers are struggling to come to terms with this new reality.

It’s Not Always About the Money

Of course, most travel influencers look at this as their primary job. It brings them the financial security that allows them to continue affording this lifestyle. However, it is not fair to paint all of these travel influencers with the same brush.

A lot of travel influencers value their jobs because it provides them financial benefits as well as the freedom to travel and live their lives per their will. In the influencer circles, this is known as “wanderlust,”  an insatiable thirst to travel as much as possible.

The coronavirus epidemic presents them with a conundrum. On the one hand, they can’t travel anywhere outside of their houses. On the other hand, they rely on their viewers to keep doing what they do.  Given our state of information overload, influencers need to dish out fresh content to retain their relevance in the eyes of their viewers.

When there is a will

Naturally, travel influencers have come up with their unique solutions to their content problem. This is indirectly related to their financial needs as well, considering content is their primary source of income.

The first solution is to reupload old content, with some adjustments to take the modern situation into account. This does two things. First, it echoes the positivity message that organizations, governments, and corporations have been trying to push. In these uncertain times, there is a great need for content that reinforces optimism.

Secondly, it helps them mitigate some of the damages that the lack of fresh content may be doing to their personas. Naturally, rehashed content is good as a nostalgic dive into the good old days but it does not bring in the same numbers in viewers as new content does.

This is evident from the millions of views that amateurs are getting on YouTube when they post videos of empty tourist spots and busy airports simply because they work there.

However, some travel influencers haven’t been following the typical guidelines at all. There are reports of numerous influencers that continue to travel and post updates on their trips from airports, flights, and by pursuing rather empty forms of transportation. To be fair, they’ve been careful in how they travel, following all the guidelines prescribed by the government and health agencies.

Similarly, some travelers have shifted the kind of content they post to include DIY morning and night skincare routines or traveling domestically. However, all of this is an inferior alternative at the end. Most influencers seem to agree that one way or another that they can’t continue with these alternatives.

Cabin Fever Taking Over

Sooner or later, everyone in the lockdown will experience cabin fever to some degree. Regardless of how introverted a person might be, there’s a limit to how tolerable a person can be while confined to a single space for such a long time. It can result in temper tantrums, mood swings, and paranoia, as well as restlessness.

This appears to be the case in several of the social media groups that travel influencers participate in. While these groups are supposed to be like a forum for these influencers to provide advice as well as necessary precautions, that’s not all that they’re doing. There have been reports that these groups have turned into out-of-touch bubbles.

Instagram influencers have gone as far as calling the response to the epidemic as blown out of proportions.   That last bit should be particularly concerning since almost all of these influencers have millions of followers.

Their messages, incorrect and fictitious as they may be, still have a significant reach. The danger of misinformation during the epidemic has reached such an extent that WhatsApp has had to disable its mass-forwarding feature to minimize the spread of fake news.

So, What’s Next for the Influencer Community?

Despite what the average viewer may think, the influencer industry is not going away soon. Even during this pandemic, they’ve altered their content as well as their overall delivery strategy to suit the situation.

Some travel influencers have turned their quarantines into an opportunity as well. By quarantining themselves in remote locations, these influencers have found a way to keep their viewers interested. Wouldn’t you want to see what being alone on a Nordic island is like? Or how is it to be in the Mojave Desert all by yourself for an entire week?

Human evolution dictates that the ability to adapt is a fundamental of survival. While it may be less than ideal, travel influencers have started to find subtle opportunities during the ongoing pandemic. Challenging as it may be, digital innovation and human creativity mean that influencers will continue to have a visible internet presence in the years to come.

Yasir Nawaz Yasir enjoys reading and writing about the latest developments in the world of AI and cybersecurity. A firm believer in the right to digital privacy for all, he shares his thoughts on issues both controversial and menial. His other interests include chess, reading, and looking to the horizon in his best Luke Skywalker impression.

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