Between the 1950s and the 1990s, traditional marketing was dependent on one main principle Interruption. I had to come up with a decent product or a service, and then I had to find a way to push it out through TV commercials, magazine ads, phone calls, etc. Publishers and mass media had all the control and power because they had the distribution. When we entered the digital era, or when the internet took over, this power disappeared or changed hands.

A new form of marketing emerged. Content Marketing came into play. Brands started controlling and creating their own channels and collaborating with different partners to support their products and services. The rise of social media brought new players into the game. With the help of brands, a new breed of people emerged as Influencers. They built up a loyal following and gained their trust along the way. (I'm talking about valuable and genuine Influencers, there is much deadwood out there as well)

When you think of it, it could be a mass approach, or it could also be a niche one. It all depends on your targeting strategy. When it relies on trust and authority, followers trust their leader and their decision & choice. Last but not least, influencer marketing could enhance brand awareness and reach on a personal level.

Influencer marketing emerged after the rise of social media, and a new breed of people emerged into our lives. This new breed has capitalized on the power of content marketing and shifted focus on creating relevant, timely and valuable content. They started building up a loyal following by talking about experiences and sharing knowledge that would appeal to people with similar preferences. Shortly after, they had the power to affect their followers' purchasing decisions.

All of a sudden, everyone got interested in this new breed. Influencers were actually doing what all marketers wanted for their products and services. And that is, getting into the mind of the consumer and getting you to buy my product and services. The name of the game is persuasion. It's all about influencing decisions.

Dubai has approximately 350 five-star and four-star hotels in total. This is an incredible number, and it's a massive playground for people who want to participate in this game. Hoteliers need to be careful about the quality and relevance of the influencers they are choosing for their brand. Working with the wrong influencer may do more damage than good. Things might turn out to be timely and costly

Content quality is paramount. We choose influencers who can create the best quality content and support our brand promise by creating aesthetically impressive visuals. They are not much different from storytellers. We like content that people can relate to or dream about. You might be crunching the numbers in your office in London on a rainy autumn afternoon. You can easily be motivated to see a gorgeous beach setting on the iconic Palm Jumeirah Island, and this is where you want to be on the next school holiday with your family.

The dreaming phase starts with the influencers, which is why they play a crucial role for us. Data about the number of followers and engagement rate are both important. I don't think it's a numbers game since numbers can be manipulated easily. The authenticity and uniqueness of the person or the act go a long way.

The starting point for us is always, "What is the goal? What are we trying to achieve?"

The objectives may vary from one business to another. Some usual initiatives are increasing brand awareness, creating valuable content, driving more sales or generating better leads.

We heavily focus on creating valuable content. Once we receive visually engaging content that is pleasing to the eye and gets picked up by other major destination accounts, which are shared by hundreds of multiple individual accounts, we are happy and satisfied with the deliverables.

From time to time, we do tactical campaigns and try to drive sales through more targeted efforts. We do this by focusing on new accounts that we are not present or visible on any platform. The most recent one was in Portugal, where we invited multiple Portuguese influencers and, in return, had direct bookings from this region shortly after.

If your sole goal is to measure actual conversions, you can use affiliate links to measure their strength. You can track impressions and engagement. By monitoring traffic before, during and after the campaign, you can see if they can successfully fulfill your KPI metrics. However, we do not solely go after commercial metrics. Visually engaging and meaningful content is paramount for us. Creating beautiful content which might help the next guest to decide whether to book with you or not is crucial. Not every piece of content will have a direct effect on bookings.

Rixos Hotels has been strategizing on influencer marketing from the early years, and it plays an essential role in our 360 marketing plan. From a content creation perspective, I get a better return with influencers than commissioning a similar job to a production company. ROI for us is readily justifiable, and we want this to be a longer-term relationship with the influencer, not just a single transaction.