Thursday Chats – PR Trips

Today is the third installment in my Thursday Chats, where I discuss “hot topics” within the beauty community. As you can tell from the title, this month’s topic is PR trips. Just a disclaimer: none of these photos are mine, and they are all credited to the original source. There will always be that one person who tells me I’m gorgeous because they thought I was Tati (or whoever), even though I linked to the original source 😂

So, for those of you who may not be familiar with the term, what is a PR trip? It is a trip in which an influencer is invited to travel to another city (often a vacation hotspot and/or trending city) where they will participate in activities organized by the brand. The flight, accommodations, and activities are paid for and provided by the brand (likely partnered with other companies such as hotels or brands that will provide swag). The influencer may or may not be paid to attend the trip.

Source: LustreLux

I feel like PR samples and PR trips go hand in hand – it involves brands collaborating with influencers in a mutually beneficial relationship. In the current market today, brands have hit the jackpot when it comes to influencers in terms of marketing. Traditional marketing tactics are costly and have a bad rap (“ugh, the model in this ad is soooo photoshopped”). This means that brands have to be a little more creative, and what better way to be creative and elaborate than to offer people experiences?

As I talked about in a previous Thursday Chats, I don’t mind influencers getting PR samples, but I will openly admit that while I’m not jealous of other people getting sent products, I am insanely jealous of PR trips! As much as I love collecting makeup, I’d rather collect experiences. When I say “jealous”, I don’t really mean in a bitter kind of way, but in the sense that I wish someone would pay for my vacations! I can still talk about the subject subjectively without bringing my emotions into it though, haha.

Part of me doesn’t really “get” PR trips, but I do try to understand the reasoning behind them. The cost of these trips are likely budgeted under a brand’s marketing expenses, as they seem to basically take the place of a traditional marketing campaign; it’s just another method of advertising and customer outreach.

At first, I didn’t understand the correlation between the trips and the brand – often it seemed like they just flew influencers into a city, maybe provided dinner and one organized event a day, and then left them to their own devices to do whatever they wanted during the rest of the trip. How is that building a relationship between the brand and the influencer? I came to realize that whether or not there is a full itinerary of activities planned, the trips are to provide influencers with an experience which they will in turn share with their followers. The brand benefits from the trip as they get exposure through influencer Instagram posts, geo-tags, hashtags, and blog or YouTube content, while the influencer gets a free experience, an opportunity to create social media content from all the things they see and do on the trip, as well as an opportunity to continue building their brand.

bora-bora_-8-1600x1067

Source: Aspyn Ovard

I watch/follow very few of the big influencers/YouTubers these days, but even someone like me gets wind of these trips. At the beginning of the year, I watched a vlog of an influencer who went on a Benefit trip to the Maldives for the release of the BadGal Bang mascara. They flew her in, set her up in an overwater bungalow with a beach bag full of Benefit products and other goodies waiting for her, and provided dinner and entertainment for most of the trip. Then there was the famous annual Tarte trip to Bora Bora in March, as well as a Kiehl’s trip to Vietnam after that. Last weekend, there was Revolve’s sponsored trip to Coachella. I just listed four trips off the top of my head, but I’m sure there were more that were not on my radar – and it’s only April! I can’t even begin to imagine how much money that would cost if an individual were to pay for these trip themselves – all of these places are on my bucket list, but I know I probably won’t be able to cross all of them off in my lifetime (definitely not that underwater bungalow in Bora Bora).

Influencer trips are lavish and expensive, but they cost much less than running an ad campaign in a magazine or on YouTube, and the engagement and number of impressions is much, much higher than a traditional ad – it’s basically a better bang for their buck, so it makes perfect sense for brands to offer these trips. In terms of looking at it from an influencer’s point of view, it’s an amazing opportunity and I certainly do not judge them for taking the opportunity! Be honest, would the words “Oh no thanks, I don’t want to participate in a trip where I get a free flight and 3 night’s stay in a luxury hotel” ever come out of your mouth if you were given the opportunity?

I also understand that while these trips look like a dream vacation to non-influencers like us, most of the trip probably is work for the influencers. When my husband and I go on vacation, I’m usually not looking my best in photos – I’m sweating because it’s hot out, I’m in a comfortable outfit and shoes instead of the cutest ensemble I own because we’ve been walking for nine hours straight, and there’s a million other tourists in the photo jostling me because we are at a popular attraction. Plus, most of the time, we’re too busy to worry about taking photos at all – we’ll take a few as momentos, but we try to be in the moment and enjoy the scenery. These influencers are probably scoping out locations at 6 in the morning when everyone else is still asleep, bringing several outfit changes on location including heels, handbags and accessories, and maybe even a hired photographer to get the best shots of them. They probably spend more time posing for the camera so that they can get material for Instagram/YouTube than they do getting to take in the views. I’m sure the trip is still a lot of fun, but it’s probably not the same as going on vacation.

View this post on Instagram

Turned up in style at the phenomenal @rambaghpalace. I’ve never seen anything like it. Hands up if you spotted the peacock on the roof 🕊. ✦ So we flew two hours with the wonderful @jetairways over to Jaipur from Mumbai to explore another amazing Indian City and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The Palaces are just getting even more unbelievable! ✦ Watch my latest vlog (search Youtube Inthefrow) to see what we did in India for the first few days of travel! And you can shop the outfit via my profile link too! ✦ #rambaghpalace #jaipur #india #jetairways #fentybeauty #tajness #passionpassport#beautifulhotels #beautifuldestinations #americanstyle #travelawesome #palace #wonderful_places

A post shared by Victoria (@inthefrow) on

Source: Inthefrow

Okay, so that’s how I see PR trips in the role of the beauty community. However, looking at the whole situation as the consumer that I am, these trips don’t do anything for me. Seeing a beauty blogger review a new product that was sent to them as PR might make me interested in buying it. Watching a YouTuber go to the Maldives/Bora Bora/Iceland/France with Tarte/Fresh/Kiehl’s/Dior does not give me any particular urge to try their products. One thing I’ve wondered for a while now is whether posts of these trips have driven vacationing patterns, though. Has there been a surge of tourism in the cities that are frequently featured by influencers since PR trips became more widespread? Has there been a spike in hotel bookings at the hotels they stay at (which have likely partnered with the beauty brand in order to be featured in the videos)?

Personally, I can’t say I’ve ever felt compelled to go to the same places or stay at any of the same hotels, because most of the time the cities and hotels are out of our price point. Out of curiosity, I looked up one of the hotels once and it was $1,500 a night. That’s the price my husband and I would normally pay for our flight and hotel for an entire trip combined. So no, but thank you. But it does make me wonder that if tourism and hotel bookings are indeed increasing for these specific places and hotels – who is booking them? Is it people my age who watch these influencers and have the money to spend, or is it teenagers who convince their parents?

I question the effectiveness of these PR trips in creating sales, considering my own response to them and how they don’t increase my interest in a brand’s products. I’ve come to the realization that that’s not the point of these trips – the point is just to get their name out there and to get people talking. These trips must be at least somewhat effective though, otherwise brands would no longer use this marketing tactic. Plus, I have dedicated an entire blog post to talk about these trips, so maybe they are doing their intended job!

What do you think about PR trips and their place in the beauty community? Share your thoughts below!

Featured Image: Source.

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28 thoughts on “Thursday Chats – PR Trips

  1. Very good post! I thought that was a really interesting question you asked about whether it drives more tourism to those areas ☺️ in terms of the effect it has on us as consumers, I would agree that it doesn’t make me want to buy more from a brand – I would argue that the influencer is going to be more likely to continue talking about the brand and their products after the trip, which might then lead people to buy from them. Sort of a more long term investment! 😄 x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, you’re certainly more informed than I am! I no longer watch the big youtubers either and because of Instagram’s stupid algorithm anyway, I don’t see a lot of what is going on PR-wise (which is probably a good thing in that respect). The only ones I can really name off the top of my head are the Dior trips to Paris, and the Benefit trips. Like I remember when Benefit released all those brow products and influencers were invited to Las Vegas or somewhere for it – it was crazy!

    Personally for me as a consumer, it does nothing. Part of the reason is because I don’t often buy into hypes, adverts, campaigns. I would have to be really curious or really passionate about a certain brand to buy something. However, it is definitely a marketing tactic that’s effective because like you said, it gets people talking. Talking and creating noise in the industry is part of the branding and survival of today’s world now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha I wouldn’t say I’m “knowledgeable” at all! Most of these are just my observations and personal thoughts coming from those observations.

      Yes, the Paris trips with Dior happen somewhat frequently, don’t they? I never realized there was a Benefit trip to Vegas, though. See, so many of them that we don’t even know about!

      I guess when I think about it, traditional ads don’t really directly get me to want to buy a product either, but they implant the brand/product into your head so that the next time you’re shopping, you’re thinking about it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Really interesting post! I enjoyed reading your thoughts 😁 I actually would DEFINITELY say that these trips are beneficial for the brand. An example off the top of my head would be Pinterest; I know I’ve searched Pinterest for bucket list locations LOADS. So say you’re one of these influencers, you get taken to a really cool unique hotel (like the underwater bungalow😉) take some great shots and write a review…. the people in your followers (even those who can’t afford it) will probably share photos of it as a dream place on their travel boards etc and it’ll get pinned EVERYWHERE… but then think about all the small bloggers that will use that image as part of a travel bucket list etc. (And that’s just one social media; how about Instagram and SEO?) For hotels etc it’s great exposure. For brands I think it builds relationships with the bloggers – so those beauty bloggers may continue to use their products in their looks for months! Plus, as you’ve mentioned, the cost is a lot lower than a typical ad campaign 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always forget that Pinterest, but you bring up a very good point about it! Let’s be honest, everyone who has a Pinterest has a “dream vacation” board that has an underwater bungalow, LOL. I really do wonder how much of a benefit the hotels get from the exposure, considering most of them are out of people’s price points! PR trips are definitely a win/win for both sides.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

      Like

  4. I see PR trips as companies sucking up
    to the big influencers to basically “bribe” them into taking that brand/product up.

    And some influencers aren’t even grateful. I remember last year, Lancôme sent Nicole Guierrio to Hong Kong & China for a week. All Nicole did in her vlog was complain wishing she was at home with her cats and making fun of the food. She got a lot of flack for it too. I found it disrespectful. She could have easily declined to go if she wanted to be home that bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, interesting take on the whole subject!

      Hmm, you bring up a good point. I didn’t know about the Hong Kong trip with Lancôme or see Nicole Guerriero’s video, but I do hear about other people talking about influencers complaining on a PR trip! I once watched one where a fashion vlogger went to Hong Kong with a fashion brand, and they just ate every meal in the hotel. Girl, you’re in a country with exotic food – go out and try something new instead of showing your viewers your room service bacon and avocado toast!

      Like

  5. These kind of trips usually work as brand awareness for the companies. Even though you wont buy their product, you still hear about their brand and that influencer will keep reminding you about the existence of that company. It’s kind of like regular ads, you see it, you dont act upon them but they get stuck in your head sometimes. Its actually my dream to have this kind of an opportunity sometimes, but like you said its probably quite a bit of work. Great post! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Regardless of the work that influencers have to do on these PR trips, I have to admit that I would love to go on a PR trip just once! I think it’s a fun way to experience other places and meet new like-minded people. Although I’ve never been on a PR trip, I feel like those things alone would make the trip fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m not big on beauty YT’ers and I don’t watch them that often. I think the PR trips are a great way (for the brand) to create lots of buzz about upcoming products as we all know the influencers will be put it on the gram and snapchat. Besides I think the bigger influencers aren’t “just” settling for free products anymore as that’s not a big deal anymore 😐

    Liked by 1 person

    • Totally, it’s such a unique way of creating buzz around a beauty brand. Hmm, very good point that product PR may not seem all that special to big influencers anymore and that companies may have felt that they need to up their game, I’ve never thought of it that way!

      Like

  8. I don’t get PR trips AT ALL. I’m trying to picture it from the perspective of the “Influencers” (I cringe at that word). They are thrown in with a bunch of other people they don’t know well, and in reality, are in direct competition with. Then they are likely told (or at the very least, guided) what to do and say throughout the whole trip. I’ve been on work trips before and they’re not fun – but at least I had down time to do my own thing.
    I also question how these PR trips generate sales! I certainly am not swayed by the pretty pictures… sure, maybe the Influencers will now be “on side / bribed” with the brand and will never speak ill of them ever but as a consumer, it’s so thinly veiled. I surely hope consumers are more educated than to fall for this tripe. 🙄

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hate the term “influencer” too but it’s easier than YouTuber/Instagrammer/Blogger…I guess “content creator” is a better term. They are totally told what to say throughout the trip – it is probably in the terms of agreement that they must put out at least one video, or show this, or hashtag with this.

      I think for a long time I didn’t understand the purpose of them at all, but now I just see them as a different from of advertising. Will I be more inclined to go buy Tarte’s stuff after I see a vlog of one of their trips? Nope. But I probably wouldn’t if I saw a Tarte ad in a magazine or online, either. It’s definitely more of a brand awareness thing. I do think older viewers see right through it, but teenagers unfortunately probably don’t.

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  9. This is a great topic to cover. I definitely enjoy watching the vlogs that the influencers come up with afterwards, but I really don’t connect that vlog with the brand, let alone their products. The only association I form is between the beauty influencer and the trip.
    I do think Kiehl’s may have done a better job though, because they literally took the influencers to a location where they sourced some of their ingredients for a particular product, so the influencers showed us that, and them harvesting some of that ingredient. So I think that was smart of Kiehl’s, because it not only got the influencer more involved and more able to understand the product, but the consumers who watched the vlog as well.
    PR trips are certainly a good marketing ploy, but as it is right now I do think it is flawed. The most these trips do is guilt the influencer into giving their products more air time, whether they perform well or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I enjoy some of the vlogs, too!

      Okay, I have mixed feelings about the Kiehl’s one where they took the girls to the plantation. I do think it’s nice that the brand shows the influencers where and how their ingredients are sourced, but at the same time I thought it seemed disrespectful to bring privileged white girls to make a spectacle out of these Vietnamese women who are just doing their jobs.

      Liked by 1 person

      • From the vlogs I watched, it wasn’t at all obvious that this was negative for the employees in any way. For me, there just isn’t enough information to come to that conclusion, but I totally get where you are coming from, and I get how the employees could potentially feel that way.

        Like

    • Oops, I also meant to say that you’re right, the PR trip system IS flawed, but so is the PR sample system…and pretty much everything in the beauty community that started out with good intentions, haha. It’s a tough situation though – how do you fix it?

      Liked by 1 person

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