SANDY & VYJAY Influencer Spotlight
Sandy and Vyjay are a travel blogger couple based in India who love exploring world cultures, seas, mountains, nature, food, art, history and urban places. The couple set up their blog, Voyager, as a place to share their travel stories and experiences of their amazing journeys. They aim to inspire other travel lovers to see what this amazing world has to offer through stories, videos, and photos. Sandy & Vyjay are self-confessed social media addicts (who love Facebook in particular) and they believe in sustainable tourism and are responsible travelers who are always ready to do their part to conserve, preserve and protect this wonderful world!
Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into travel blogging?
Sandy: Okay so Actually I just started off with one Facebook page. I started sharing some of our travel pictures and I saw that there was a lot of response for that. And just as for blogging I opened a word Press account and then started putting some of my travel experiences out there and I saw again there was a good response for that. That’s when I spoke more about this with Vyjay and I told him why [don’t] we take this up seriously. People are loving our travel story so why not take this up seriously and have our own site.
Vyjay: Yeah and so we’ve been traveling for more than ten years together. So we started a blog about a little under three years now. As she was [saying] people were asking for our travel stories. They were interested in hearing [about] our experiences. So that’s how we started travel blogging and it started off as a hobby as I think most things do. Then gradually, I mean without any sort of influence from our side brands started coming towards us and slowly the trend went to monetization.
At what point did you branch out into influencer marketing?
Sandy: Okay so that was actually pretty early maybe we can say that it happened almost two and a half months of us starting out blog.
One of the start up companies came to us and said they would be interested in having us as influencers on social media.
What is the perception of influencer marketing in India? Is it very popular or is it just catching on? Do most of your collaborations come from companies based within India or more on a global scale?
Vyjay: I would say it’s still in a nascent state. So brands are still waking up to it and they are still not recognizing the potential that it has. But yes we have seen a perceptible change over a period of time and now brands have started recognizing it now.
Sandy: And it’s not just India. We have been getting requests from outside India too.
You feature quite a few associations with popular brands, what has been your favorite brand partnership to-date?
Vyjay: As you now noticed our major focus has been on the travel brands. So we associated tourism goals and we associated a lot with the hospitality companies. So our favorite, I mean it’s like choosing among five of your children or six of your children so I will not say which is [our] favorite. But there is one brand [that I don’t want to] name because I do not want to offend any other brand. but one of the hospitality brands which we’ve worked quite a lot with. And we like that brand a lot because there’s a lot of – it’s not just a business kind of relationship. I will say there is a lot of heart in the brand and that is why we like to associate with that brand.
Can you tell us about your unique approach as sustainable travel bloggers?
Vyjay: Yeah, sure. Basically we are trying to differentiate ourselves from the normal travel or tourism kind [of travel bloggers]. So it’s not that we don’t do that where we just write guides, travel guides which say that okay you go to this place and do this x, y, z there or ten things to do in a place. Also there are two things we focus on. One is we try to personalize it with our own travel stories. The second thing is how can we can sustain tourism and promote that. Like there’s one place in Indian we’ve written a blog about in particular. We visited there some ten years back and when we returned there after ten years there was a drastic change in terms of deterioration of the environment. And those things we’ve written a blog about [in order] to raise awareness of that and that is one side of it. The other side is there are a lot of positive things happening as far as sustainable tourism is concerned. So we were on a trip to this country in Africa called Rwanda. Though it is a small country it is leading by example. For example we have [a] total band on plastics, so when you enter the country, even in the airport, you are searched not for any kinds of drugs or contraband but for plastics, so they are setting this huge example So we actually did [promote this example] in terms of Twitter, Instagram, as well as our blog we talked about this
Sandy: We were also given some boards where we had to promote certain art or culture of a particular place. So that heritage might be dying or people are not aware of that. So through blog posts or our social media updates people came to know about that particular art which they were not aware of. So that comes under the topic sustainable tourism.
You seem to have all of the most popular social media platforms covered when it comes to your personal brand, do you have a favorite?
Sandy: So when it comes to friends and family, yes, Facebook is our favorite but we feel that most of our messages are also taken very well on Instagram. So for Instagram it’s just not about the image it’s also about the story we share along with the image. So we feel that, yes, people are actually liking our posts on Instagram too.
Where do you see influencer marketing headed in India (and beyond) in the next five years?
Vyjay: Okay so there is only one way it is headed and that’s up. The reason we said expected yet still nascent and people are realizing the importance of that. If you compare the influencer marketing with the tradition forms of advertising for brands too there is a huge difference in the cost involved, that is one thing. The second thing is brands need to be able address the niche market very specifically. So the targets are very specific and obviously the rate of return on their investment is going to be that much higher.
So our brands are realizing that and we can see that the change is happening every day whenever we are talking to the brands or we’re talking with other influencers in India that is happening. As I said in India that is nascent but because we deal with brands even from outside of India so we can see the perceptible difference between them. But even in the country like the US there is still a lot of potential for influencer marketing to include and that is going to happen. There maybe a shift in the kinds of platforms. For example videos could be something which come because people are looking more in terms of visuals not to underrate the written word but videos and visuals are going to have a greater impact. So the future is quite brights is what I see.
Note: Influencer Spotlight interviews are edited for time and clarity.
Andrew is the Head of Client Services for Intellifluence and has a background in communications. He is committed to helping brands get the most out of their campaigns and is the voice behind many of the Intellifluence tutorial videos (for better or worse).