Industry Pros Weigh In On Today’s Travel Market: Shalini Arora Kochhar, Travel Brand Influencer
Best-Selling Author, Brand Influencer and Founder of Women On Top Of Their Game Shalini Arora Kochhar gets candid on the pandemic’s impact on influencers, digital trends and what travel brands need to know about Indian Gen-Zers.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
1. The pandemic has accelerated Indian consumers' use and adoption of new technologies. How has this impacted your work as an influencer? What channels are you using?
Influencers are just dreamers with a vision. I used this time at home to my advantage, and my vision got clearer.
My coaching business was primarily online, so it was positively impacted. I also leveraged my Women On Top platform, which was created for and dedicated to women. Through my online show ShaliniSays Women On Top Of Their Game, I facilitate and showcase women from all walks of life. It’s a celebration of Woman Power and the stories of women entrepreneurs.
As far as channels go, I use Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Zoom, StreamYard and Twitter.
2. What should travel brands consider when building mutually beneficial influencer marketing partnerships?
When I collaborate with a brand, I do more direct marketing to the specific target audience, which I think pays of in the long run. I talk a lot about Monaco (not that I represent them officially) and have influenced so many Indians to put it on their must-list. 😜
When building an influencer marketing partnership, travel brands should consider an influencer’s:
- Target audience
- Pics / videos / kick-ass reels is what’s working today
- Official Blue tick
- On-site availability for curated, original content
There are endless numbers of influencers today, but ultimately, it’s about reaching your target audience. Influencers like @bruisedpassports, @wanderwithsky, @indiangirlstravel, @FollowMeTo, @diipakhosla, @juhigodambe, @larissa_wlc, @shenaztreasury are some of the top travel contributors.
Travel was the most impacted during the pandemic, so I think everyone must come back bigger and better. “Travel is an investment in yourself, ” and people should make that investment as the world opens up again. Travel brands just need to show them the way and make it easy to take the plunge.
3. A destination's video content is critical to both their storytelling efforts and ability to make emotional connections with Indian audiences. With so much video content out there, how do you think destinations can better stand out in the market?
What’s worked for me is an authentic, real, personal connection with my audience. Over the years, I’ve built a loyal following, so they trust my judgement. Strong content, a good hook and the right hashtags leads the way.
4. What new digital trends are you seeing in the market?
REELS are REEL Good!
Reels is the best thing – it’s made everyone “famous”. And it’s super entertaining. Whether you want inspiration, fashion, skincare, health tips, travel, coaching, or just a laugh – you name it, you got it. I can spend hours smiling and watching the amazing content people are creating on reels. Now that everyone has become their own television anchor and are interviewing people, digital has become a whole new ball game.
5. Indian Gen-Zers are a new travel segment for many destination marketers. What do you think travel brands should know about Indian Gen-Zers?
I call the Indian Gen-Zers the “Airbnb generation”. They are awesome at research and find the most exotic places with the best deals. And their word of mouth works like magic. If one set goes, the whole clan follows. If they want to travel, by hook or by crook, they will.
Gen-Zers have used the remote work setup to their advantage. The work-from-home lifestyle drove rental home bookings in different parts of India. While some hotels have shut down, small properties blossomed. Companies like Sanara Living, Vista Rooms and Airbnb have become a niche of their own.
Travel Brands should speak to Gen-Zers to get their pulse on budget, mindset, what they are looking for and create content that lures them. It’s this Airbnb, Uber generation that has wheels in their heels. They have the wanderlust and desire to be all over the world, and they will be the ones to patronize travel!
So, here’s to the world opening up! I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list. ❤️
Follow Shalini on her adventures @shaliniarorakochhar_monaco.