Last year I was approached by a travel company, you may have heard of them Contiki, to come on an all expenses paid for trip to Greece and Turkey. My first thought was why would a internationally recognized travel company want to simply give free trips away? The thought didn’t last very long as logic set in and I realized nothing comes for free.


In this say and age with social media, I knew it meant that by going on this trip I would need to take photos and positively talk about promote how amazing the hotels and restaurants are that we were taken too. After a few meetings with the team at Contiki I was able to negotiate bringing my best friend along with me to enjoy the experience. The verbal deal ( yes, no contracts were sign ) was that, I would post at least one photo a day of my choice and some video content across my Instagram, Facebook & Twitter platforms tagging the brand and also using the hashtag #noregrets. The social media world is a little vague when it comes to agreements and contracts because it needs to be an organic process between two parties. At the same time, it sounded too good to be true and I really wanted to sign something to secure this trip of a lifetime. Contiki trips are usually groups of tourists coming together all over the world, but this one was a little different. I was going to be travelling with other people who work in the media. It was a ‘closed’ trip specifically designed as a marketing proposition for the company. What’s in it for us, an amazing free experience for 10 days. There were people from magazine companies who work with Contiki as a sponsor for online banners etc who were on the trip writing about the ‘travel’ locations for example. Here were also models with high twitter and Instagram followings and bloggers of course, there to share the best food, night clubs, shopping and sun set images to their millions on fans in hopes they will follow suit and book a trip with Contiki in the near future.


What I realized from this trip is that social media cuts out the middle man for brands that traditionally have a budget dedicated to advertising. It’s a powerful and easy tool to get brand messaging and awareness out to a specific demo. Combined, the reach Contiki received through all of our following was over 1 million through the online platform and influencers in the 18-35 age bracket. What influencers ( like myself ) are realizing now thought, is free contra may sound exciting to begin with and its very enticing, but being an influencer is a job these days and we need to be strict with brands we associate ourselves with and treat our personal brands like a profitable ‘walking advertising company’


The trip really was an experience of a lifetime and I can truly say ill remember it forever, but one year later I’m now getting approached by other companies and building a business out of promoting certain business. There are now opportunities to get paid per post on social media, up to $1500 for a single photo. I’m interested to see if this fairly new way of making money will last and if social media influencers are around for the long hall.