How to Use Social Media Influencers to Market a Luxury Villa or Vacation Rental to Massively Increase Your Bookings

Influencer marketing for vacation rentals is a vital part of your marketing strategy, but I get it, the idea of working with influencers can be totally overwhelming. What even is an influencer? And what’s a content creator? How do I tell apart the good ones that will actually drive bookings and the ones that are just there to take a selfie and a free trip? What does a successful influencer partnership look like? And where do I even begin to find the right influencer for my villa or vacation rental?

I’m here to help you answer all of these questions and more. With years of corporate brand marketing under my belt at companies like Google, followed by a successful career as a luxury travel influencer, working with MANY luxury villas on high ROI campaigns, as well as having experience working on the other side of the business working with countless influencers to promote my own resortwear brand, I’m here to help you understand influencers like never before, and capitalize on them to make a huge difference in your bookings and social media presence. 

Why influencer marketing is important for luxury vacation rentals

The right social media influencer will not only bring your rental brand awareness, but will continue to add bookings to your calendar, not to mention give you new, interested social media followers and email subscribers, as well as provide experiential content and photography and videography of the experience of your villa to use in your own marketing and social media pages as well.

Did you know that these days 50% of consumers DEPEND on influencers in their purchasing decisions? and 86% of women (86%!!!!!) use social media when deciding to make a purchase. I’d be willing to bet that in the travel industry, that number is even higher. The reality is a good influencer feels like a FRIEND to their followers, and when they make a recommendation to their audience, their audience trusts it. Especially if the audience sees the influencer experience a place (like a vacation rental or hotel) themselves, and post beautiful content from that place, they can easily picture themselves having the same experience, which leads to booking the trip. 

As a personal example, last September, I worked with a luxury sailboat charter in Italy, I was the first influencer they ever worked with, and they were taking a chance on investing in me and the campaign, but I assured them, through my experiences with similar partnerships in the past, I knew it would be worth it. Within a few months following our influencer campaign, their following summer was booked up – with 60% of those bookings coming directly from my instagram and blog. The summer before, they were lacking any bookings, and were using it mainly for family because they didn’t know how to go about getting bookings. The power of influencers is transformative for your business!!!

What makes a good influencer? And how do I tell if they’re good for my rental?

First of all, you need to know your goal of working with an influencer to be able to tell if an influencer will be ‘good’ for you. Is your goal purely content for your own social media (then you want more of a photographer/content creator focused influencer), and maybe an increase in followers (then you want someone with a lot of followers)? Or is it BOOKINGS (then you need someone who has true INFLUENCE over their audience, and whose audience matches up to your target demo). Or is it all of the above?

Keep in mind followers does not = bookings. Some influencers have many followers, but their audiences aren’t aligned with the price of a luxury villa, for example, or their audience is not vacationing in the destination where that villa is. On the other hand, some influencer’s audiences are perfectly aligned with the villa showcased, and will see countless bookings from the partnership. 

How to find influencers and how to choose the right influencer for your vacation rental

You want an influencer whose audience vacations in places like yours, and who will help you reach that audience. Here’s exactly how to go about figuring out if an influencer is right for your rental property.

How can you tell a good influencer from one that will just waste my time and budget? 

I’ve chatted a lot about this with general managers, tourism professionals, marketing managers and PR agencies. I always tell them it’s as simple as doing your research. Know the influencer, and understand their brand. Because each influencer’s brand – and audience – is very unique and different. For example, if you’re a luxury vacation rental, you need a high-net-worth, luxury-traveling audience.

I understand that for someone working with an influencer for the first time, it may be intimidating to try and sort through who are the ‘good influencers’ and the ‘bad influencers’. Or even the influencers who just have fake followers (yikes). So here are some questions you need to ask and research about said influencer when deciding if you should work with them before you sign the papers.

Who is the influencer’s audience? Ask for audience demographics and screenshots of their instagram insights, but also, definitely take a peek at the profiles of the people who have liked their most recent photos, or similar photos to those you hope them to create for you. If you click through to these profiles (check at least 15-20 to get a good idea of a general target demographic that is engaging with this influencer) do these people seem to match up with your target audience?

How many comments do they get on their posts? Do they have 100,000 followers but only 5 comments? That’s a red flag that their followers are fake. 

Is their content aligned with your marketing? Check out their instagram feed. Would you put these photos in your brand’s feed? Is it high-quality, beautiful photography that inserts a person into the photo of the resort, villa, or destination they feature thoughtfully, in a way that doesn’t detract from the destination’s beauty one bit, but rather enhances it — transporting the viewer of the photo to that destination, imagining themselves as that woman or man, enjoying that piña colada poolside, and dipping their toes into the warm sand. You want their content to appeal to your customer, as well, since you’ll likely want to be using the content in your own marketing after the influencer campaign.

Do they have other platforms outside of instagram that could be used for your villa? Tiktokers can be a great asset, and I swear by bloggers when it comes to actually driving bookings. After all, social media is short-lived. It’s effective, but short-lived. Blogs, on the other hand, last forever, and continue to drive traffic to your rental month, after month, after month. There are villas I worked with over 4 years ago that I’m still directly driving multiple bookings to per month through my blog. (Like this one in Cabo that I worked with, and this other Mexico villa I celebrated my birthday in and still continue to drive revenue for every month). There’s a lot of power in a blog – as long as the blogger has good SEO (to know this – check their domain authority here – anything above 30 is STELLAR and will get you great SEO when they do a blog on your rental or include you in a greater post – ie “The Best Vacation Rentals in X and they put you at the top of the list).

What is the going rate for hiring an influencer to come stay at your vacation rental – is a hosted stay okay?

Would you do your job for free? Yes, a beautiful villa is a wonderful perk for an influencer, but their job is still their job. You’re asking them to come and work and if an influencer is worth it, they will charge you a fee and not accept just a hosted stay. I will say that there are sometimes exceptions to this – sometimes I am open to hosted stays if it aligns with a trip I’m already planning – or it’s somewhere I’ve really been already planning to go. But in general, if a villa is reaching out to me, and they expect me to take time out of my schedule to work with them, they usually have the budget to do so, and are looking to host us in their vacation rental, as well as cover an influencer fee (this is largely determined by the deliverables, timing, etc. – if you are interested in working with me, you can contact me at [email protected] to chat about how I could help drive bookings for your rental and I can give more details)

I think it’s important to keep in mind what you hope to gain from an influencer, in many cases, their fee will be covered (and then some) by the very first trip booked that came from their instagram or blog. I know sometimes it can be intimidating to invest in marketing, but it is truly the best investment you can make – as long as you follow the steps above to find the RIGHT influencer for you.

How to find influencers for a vacation rental

This is the hard part – where do you even start when it comes to FINDING the right influencers to begin with? I would ask around people you know (and even potentially your current customers!!) who they follow and who they look to for travel recommendations, and start there. I would also use google of course (where you’ll come up with posts like this rounding up top influencers, or this post on top travel influencers) but really I think your own network will be the most powerful place to start, because then you’ll skip right to the people who actually come top of mind to your customers. 

You can also reach out to me! I work with luxury villas on promoting their properties through my instagram, blog, and TikTok and have had amazing success with partnerships like these at truly making a difference for the property. I will say my audience definitely skews more luxury, so I tend to work with higher-end properties. If you’re interested, reach out to me here.

How to track performance of an influencer as a vacation property

The best way is to offer their audience a discount (10% or so) with a discount code unique to that influencer. That way, you’ll be able to track performance of the campaign. Also keep in mind the power of their imagery and content, too – once you start using that on your own marketing, there will be that positive effect there as well! 

Read more:



The Ultimate Honeymoon Packing List for Every Destination


The Best Sports Birthday Invitations for a First Birthday or Toddler's Birthday


Christina is a leading luxury lifestyle and travel blogger with over 2 million readers. Follow her on instagram @jetsetchristina.