Six years ago, Alyssa Ramos of MyLifesATravelMovie hosted the first ever influencer-hosted group trips, starting with an eight person trip to Iceland.
Fast forward to today, and Ramos has now hosted close to twenty trips, on all seven continents, with over two-hundred people, who are mostly her Instagram followers. She also has five more fully booked trips in 2021, including twenty-one guests going to Egypt (and some adding on Jordan), sixteen going to Turkey in November, twenty one exploring Patagonia in December, plus the ultimate example of true travel influence: 108 people booked on her Antarctica group trip.
Since Ramos started hosting and posting about her group trips, several other influencers have started jumping on the band wagon as well, with almost every major travel influencer having hosted at least one trip with followers. Non-influencer entrepreneurs have also taken notice to the rapidly rising trend, and formed entire companies using influencers as an easy way for them to get tours booked. But Ramos says influencers can easily host their own trips and make more of a profit. She even now offers a course called “How to Plan and Host Your Own Group Trips”.
So why are so many solo travelers now opting to join influencer-hosted group trips when solo travel was previously such a hot trend? Alyssa Ramos gives us her input, experience, and tips!
Why Solo Travelers are Opting for Influencer-Hosted Group Trips
According to Ramos, “I started noticing six years ago that a lot of my audience members were asking if they could just come travel with me, or if I needed a travel buddy, since I was always traveling solo. In my head, I was like, ‘no, that defeats the point of me traveling solo’, but then I realized not everyone WANTS to travel solo’. So I thought, maybe if I put them all together they will want to go, and then they can meet other like-minded travelers”.
She says the difference between incluencer-hosted group trips, and traditional tour groups is very clear; with influencer-hosted group trips, you know you’ll be traveling with other people who follow the influencer, therefore likely enjoy the same travel style. Since you see the influencer traveling on social media, you also know that they’re experts at planning trips. You also get the added bonus of traveling with someone who inspires you.
“Influencer-hosted group trips are also favorable because it’s basically like you can go do what you’re seeing on social media. My trips are always the exact replicas of itineraries I create and have done myself solo, with the added bonus of things I’d do to enhance them.”.
Not to mention, these trips are not only cafefully curated to be extremely epic and photoworthy, but they are highly planned out, meaning guests hardly have to do anything besides book the trip and get a flight!
Why Influencers are Opting to Host Group Trips Over Traditional Collaborations
Ramos says the answer is very easy; instead of waiting around or pitching for a travel collaboration, you basically are in control of it all, and it’s way less demanding.
“The way that our jobs work as travel influencers, is that we profit in several ways, including getting travel collaborations. The ultimate goal is getting a paid travel collaboration, which is when a tourism board, hotel, tour company, etc., not only pays for you to travel somewhere, but also pays for your content and publicity as well. Which is how it should be, since we work hard for our audiences and content, but not everyone sees that. A lot of companies expect us to just work for free in exchange for travel, but that’s not smart for us, or feasible for a future. We have to make and save money that we work hard to earn, just like everyone else.
But with group trips, instead of a company paying us to promote them to our audience, in hopes that our followers book their hotel or trip, earning them money, we can directly monetize our audience ourselves. Plus there’s no demand for deliverables (how many posts we have to do), and we get to have fun with people rather than get rushed around entire countries without any down time because companies want us to cover as much as possible for what they’re paying.”
She says it’s also the first step in what she hopes will be a big change in how much travel influencers are paid. Ramos says a big problem she sees, and why she turns down a lot of collaborations, is because she’ll get contacted by PR firms pitching projects that are unpaid, which is like a slap in the face.
“How does it make sense that a brand has enough money to pay an expensive PR firm to just find the people like us who are the ones who actually have the pull to make the brand the money, but then they say they don’t have the budget to pay us….again…the people doing the actual work. In what world does working for free to make other people money make sense? It doesn’t. With group trips, we have the freedom to not only set our own income, but also the power to decide who gets our business. Brands should think about that when they’re setting their marketing budgets.”
What Makes MyLifesATavelMovie Group Trips so Successful
Many people doubt the true influence of influencers. But Ramos says a great way to gauge if someone really does have travel influence, is to look at how many people book their group trips. After all, the point of a travel influencer is to get people to travel! If you have a true audience, who really is influenced by the influencer, it will show in the bookings.
“There’s a lot of influencers trying to host their own group trips right now. I think I make it look easier than it really is though. Getting people to book trips can be really hard! I believe mine get booked out for a few reasons; first, they’re major bucktlist trips. I specialize in extreme adventures, World Wonders, and destinations most people would love to go to, just not solo…like India or D.R. Congo. Second, my audience has always been highly engaged with my travels, and many have been following me for a while, so it’s like they trust me with a good time. I also have a ton of positive testimonials and repeat bookings from previous group trippers, with some of the main highlights being how well I put groups of people together who all get along, and how inricately I plan the entire trip.”
How Influencer-Led Group Trips Benefit Locals
According to Ramos, she only uses locally owned and run tour companies and guides. And the way she finds them, is by using companies or guides that she has worked with previously on solo collaborations, additionally giving them back a hefty return on their initial investment in her!
“Tourism is extremely important in the majority of the countries that I host my group trips in. Especially right now that covid destroyed it. I brought the first group of tourists to Tanzania last month that the local company had in over 1.5 years, and the level of gratitude they expressed was both heartbreaking and inspiring to continue to bring more people.”
Ramos’ group trips also include a donation either to set off each persons carbon footprint for the trip, or towards a local fundraiser, like purchasing water filter systems for the villages near Virunga in D.R. Congo next year.
What About the C-Word?
The world is still not fully back to normal, or safe from the deadly virus, but some travel influencer/bloggers are carefully, safely, and bravely doing their best to help start to bring it back.
Ramos says her group trips for 2022-2023 are in destinations that are open for tourists, and that everyone must follow all safety protocols. She says the majority of her travelers, and herself, are all vaccinated, they wear masks where they’re supposed to, and they get mulitple covid test (before arrival and departure, plus for certain activities like gorilla trekking). Travel insurance with covid coverage is also mandatory. She says her main priority is not only keeping her guests safe, but the locals they come in contact with as well.
“I know a lot of people will hate on us for traveling, but if people can go to Lalapolooza and other music concerts, not to mention, nightclubs, without masks, I think we should be able to go do mostly outdoor adventures in other countries. Especially since most of us are vaccinated (98%!), and we still get tested just in case. Actually I’ve had about 50 covid tests in the last year, and I’ll still continue to pay for them, even though I’m vaccinated, just to be safe.”
What’s Next for Influencer-Hosted Group Trips in the Future?
In 2022, Ramos has incresed the number of group trips to almost 15, in countries on all 7 continents, plus a new, limited edition bucketlist offer to go to all 7 continents for $17k (fully booked until 2023).
“I use my Instagram to gauge which destinations I’ve been to in the past get the most attention, then I turn them into group trips. So next year I will be repeating Tanzania & Zanzibar, which is already almost full along with Norhtern Lights in Norway, plus Egypt & Jordan, Morocco, Turkey, Patagonia, and Antarctica. New destinations include the Seychelles, Maldives, Uganda, Congo (fully booked), Rwanda, French Polynesia, and a 3 country Christmas Markets tour!”
Ramos says she increases the amount of destinations not only to meet the growing demand of her influencer-hosted group trips, but also to stay on top of the competition. With so many influencers noticing the benefits of these trips, more and more are doing them, and in similar destinations. Ramos says hers are unique in that they are extreme bucketlist, and available on every continent, plus all around the same attainable costs.
“I know a lot of influencers are trying to do group trips now after seeing how fun they look and what great profits you can make, which is great! I just hope they have the same morals and safety concerns I do, like only working with local companies, promoting the local businesses, and making sure every safety precaution is met.”
In fact, Ramos now is also offering a live course called “How to Plan and Host Group Trips” so that those who are interested can learn to do it in an ethical, sustainable, safe, and organized way.
Ramos also will be turning her group trips into video series, about what happens when followers actually follow the influencer that inspires them to travel. Please reach out to us for more information about it!