Travel agency and tour operator Trending Travel has struck a deal with influencers and well-known brands to launch a holiday competition which could reach 25 million people on Instagram.

The Travel Network Group member launched in June, aiming to sell holidays off the back of influencer posts.

It has now teamed up with clothing brand Oh Polly, Australian social media influencer Tammy Hembrow and Hard Rock Hotels for the competition to win a holiday to the Maldives worth £45,000.

Trending Travel is led by chief executive Keith Herman and co-founder Sophie Foster. Herman is the former managing director of travel gift card specialists, Inspire, while Foster spent 15 years in hotel account management roles with Accor and One & Only.

In four months, Trending Travel has become the second most followed travel company in the UK on Instagram with 120,000 followers. Only Tui has more, with 180,000.

Trending Travel says its posts and stories have been viewed 27 million times, with 800,000 engagements, more than 100,000 direct messages and an average engagement rate three times the usual.

Herman believes the competition, which launches today (Thursday Nov 26), will be the biggest Instagram holiday giveaway ever run in the UK.

The winner will stay all-inclusive at Hard Rock Hotels’ Rock Star villa in the Maldives. The prize includes flights and £2,500 worth of Oh Polly clothing to take on the trip.

Tammy Hembrow has a new range of swimwear just out with Oh Polly and is fronting the competition.

Herman said: “She has 12 million followers, Oh Polly has four million, and with all other bits and pieces, we’ve calculated the reach will be 25 million. It’s really exciting.”

Trending Travel is also working with the cast of Strictly Come Dancing, including judge Shirley Ballas, professional dancers Janette Manrara an Aljaz Skorjanec, and 2020 contestant HRVY, among others.

Foster explained: “We have already taken more than 30 influencers away. Our following is growing very quickly with real trackable ROI now available to hotels. Having spent 15 years on the hotel side of things, I know how useful this form of marketing is to any supplier.

“It’s a very different route to market to anybody else,” she added. “Followers will see influencers’ videos and then swipe up to book with Trending Travel. We will sell them a similar holiday to what they have watched, or whatever it is they want.”

Herman said other travel companies had only “dabbled” in influencer marketing – “probably because it takes time, effort and a huge amount of patience not to mention funding.

“We have made a big investment in this business which we believe will be the future of marketing and capturing today’s millennials for a long time to come,” he said.

“You do attract a lot of dreamers, but people forget that if you get five or six million people following someone, 10% won’t be dreaming and that’s the exciting part,” added Foster.

Trending Travel is yet to see large volumes of bookings due to the pandemic and lockdown scenarios, however it is about to embark on a recruitment drive of experienced travel agents to meet anticipated demand.

Herman would like to hear from potential candidates, as well as from tour operators, airlines, hoteliers and tourist boards that might want to partner on future influencer trips.

“In the past, I think some suppliers have resented influencers because they take a lot of work and then just take, take, take. But we are now sitting in between as an ‘agent’ to see the deal out and suppliers are seeing the results and loving it,” he said.

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