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Making Every Penny Count: Why Creator Content is the Real MVP for Tourism Marketing

Written in collaboration with Harris Smith Consulting

Gone are those beautiful days when a one-size-fits-all marketing blast did the trick. Today, it’s all about giving your audience what they want, when they want it, with relevance to where they are in their decision-making. With seemingly limitless content, personalization and relevance are key to grabbing (and keeping) attention.  

As brands invest more in hyper-targeted social media ads, you may be thinking that creating lots of high-quality, engaging videos sounds like a budget buster, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be. While those sleek, magazine-like shoots are great for some things, they can miss the mark in the fast-paced world of social media.

We’re not saying to toss out all your glossy videos for iPhone-shot digital video ads. Keep those—they’re great, and they play an important role in your marketing mix! But let’s think about how to effectively use those glossy videos alongside creator content– and start maxing out campaign ROI. 

Why Use Creator Content in Your Paid Social Media Campaigns?

While we often think about using creator content in organic social media efforts, the targeting tools available through paid social platforms make creator assets a no-brainer for paid campaigns. Data backs this up: CreatorIQ says brands and agencies see better ROI with creator content. Plus, traditional video production costs are climbing, but creator content? Not so much.

People relate to content that feels personal. IAB found that those sleek, glossy ads do a stellar job of sparking conversations and immersing folks in the experience. But, creator content kills it by drawing people in with its relatable and engaging vibe. This suggests a layered approach blending the polished with the personal may be just the thing to make engagement soar. 

For travel marketers, this means weaving creator magic into your campaigns to dial up impact– without dialing up costs.

Creators for the Win

Let’s face it: video productions can eat into your budget, especially when you’re using a more targeted, personalized approach. Enter creator content—your budget’s new best friend. With costs ranging from just $50 to $200 per piece, you can distribute a variety of fresh, engaging videos without the eye-watering price tag of $1k to $5k per asset.

For the price of one traditional video, you could have one key message delivered in five different ways based on what resonates most across different target segments. Each one can offer a unique take or different imagery to deliver the message you’re trying to share. More content, more perspectives, and all without blowing your budget. 

Sounds easy enough, but some common barriers can prevent this from happening. Let’s take a look at how to combat those:

Break Down the Barriers

  1. Different Departments with Different Influencer & Creator Budgets: 

It’s all about getting everyone on the same page. Instead of having PR, social media, and paid media teams all doing their own thing with creators, streamline it. 

One cohesive strategy can cover more ground and prevent those awkward overlaps. if you’ve ever felt stuck between department budgets and overlapping costs—know you’re not alone. It’s a maze out there. But consolidating efforts can stretch those dollars further and keep your content fresh across all channels.

  1. Disconnected Agency Partners:

According to IAB, almost half of all advertisers are pouring funds into creator content regularly. And they’re not just dipping their toes—44% are planning to up their game in 2024, boosting their spend by a whopping 25%.

But here’s the kicker: It’s not just about throwing more cash at creators. It’s about getting smart—tweaking those planning processes to make the most of every creator dollar. We’re talking cutting the fat, avoiding budget overlaps, and getting those creative assets working overtime across your campaigns. This isn’t just layering—it’s strategizing for impact, aligning those messages, and dialing in your briefs to really boost your ROI and performance. 

  1. One-off Creator Campaigns

We know you’ve got some pretty tight rules when it comes to how your brand talks and ticks, not to mention all the specifics on when, where, and how your content creators can shoot. All of this takes time to manage, so planning your creator program holistically rather than one-off campaigns is key to maximizing your efforts. 

There are a couple of approaches here. You could aim to have about 6-15 reliable creator partnerships in your corner at all times so they know your brand, what you like, and the general guardrails, saving you time in the long run.

Or, you can partner with a company like CrowdRiff to handle the sourcing, briefing, and reviews for you at scale. 

  1. Content Governance Ensures Your Content Keeps on Giving: There’s something really special about creator campaigns—they’re like the Swiss Army Knife of marketing: multi-dimensional, dynamic visuals remain relevant well after the date of the original usage. But here’s the rub: with so much content being pumped out, it’s easy for brands to lose track of what they’ve got, or just stick to using these gems on organic social. 

This is why intuitive tagging and a reliable storage system can ensure none of your content gets forgotten. Everything is easy to find, ready to be reused and repurposed across all your channels—owned, paid, and earned. This isn’t just organization; it’s about boosting your ROI by maximizing every piece of content.

A great example of a DMO putting these steps into action is Destination Cleveland, who worked with CrowdRiff to maximize assets across owned and paid distribution channels.

Wrapping it up

Jumping into creator content for your paid campaigns? Smart move—it’s not just budget-friendly, it’s a game changer for improving performance. For travel marketers aiming for genuine connections, blending creator-driven content with your high-end productions is like hitting the refresh button. It’s all about making your content resonate on a massive scale.

This partnership lets your brand shine by tapping into the unique personal touches creators bring. That authenticity grabs today’s travelers like nothing else, boosting both the impact and efficiency of your ad spend.

Don’t stress about starting big; start smart. Experiment with different types of content, keep an eye on what’s working, and tweak your strategy with the insights. These are the steps that lead to sharper, more effective campaigns.

So, why not lean into this shift towards creator content in your paid media? It’s a strategic play that could totally transform how you connect with travelers, ramping up engagement and ROI as you stand out in the crowded market.

*Harris Smith Consulting helps travel and hospitality businesses pave the way for an integrated marketing approach that is efficient, scalable, and sustainable.

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