birthday beer on Carnival Cruise

As a travel blogger at, this is something I have wondered about for a while - what exactly are the travel brands looking for from me and why are they sending me on "free" trips, sending swag, and inviting me out to dine at fancy restaurants. It seems like a strange question to ask since I simultaneously represent brands as a PR and Social Media representative doing exactly the same things I wonder why others are doing for me.

The simple answer is that we want to build a relationship between the brand and the blogger.

In today's relationship based economy there are things that you can do as an invidiual that even a journalist at the New York Times can't. That's leverage your own personal network to share the highly engaging content that you yourself experienced but want others to do so as well.

To help extend this, we asked four brands a simple question:

What are you looking for when you pick people to work with on Social Media campaigns?

Carnival Cruise Lines:

We look for bloggers/influencers with strong and solid social media followings that produce great content. Numbers are important, but you can have a great niche blogger that might not have a huge following with a solid and reputable voice in their area of expertise. Quality is also a big factor, no matter how big an influencers' numbers might be, if the quality of their work is poor, not many brands will want to work with them. Also, "bought" followers are a big no-no, brands can spot bloggers who partake in those types of practices and it only hurts the bloggers' chances of working with a brand then help them. 

San Diego Tourism:

Three things: Reach, Tone and Professionalism! Of course we want to work with people that have as big of a reach as possible, but we also consider whether or not the tone/audience is the right fit. And if you are professional and easy to work with, that's incredible important too. Be upfront about your stats and what your needs are, but also understand that we have our own needs and they might not always match.

Costa Cruise Lines

We look for journalists who have a cross-media presence. Not only do we want journalists who maintain a blog, but who are also active on social media including Facebook and Twitter. We also take into account the average unique visitors per month their site draws, page views and average time on site. We bring together all of these elements to form a global assessment of the R.O.I. for cooperating with a journalist or blogger. Given no one knows the worth of a tweet or post, we gather as much statistical information as possible and make a decision taking into account our instinct and experience.

Visit Scottsdale:

Outreach. We want to ensure that the people we work with are considered social media influencers.

We'll be expanding this article in the future with more feedback from additional travel brands but we'd also love to hear your thoughts and feedback as to what you are looking for as a brand.