Getting paid to travel? Life is just too complicated; there’s no free lunch in this world, and making a good living out of traveling is simply too good to be true.
To be frank, I secretly had that aspiration. I mean, it was definitely not as impossible as to have a super power, but someone like me being paid to travel? I already gave up on the idea long time ago, when I realised i’m no extra-ordinary writer in English and I have no charm and natural talent, let alone the handsome-ness, to be on camera, like those TV and social media personalities.
Luckily enough, recently, a “social media influencer” friend jokingly invited me to go on a paid trip on her behalf, and of course, I said yes. She picked the wrong person to joke about this with. Free trip? Paid? I hadn’t gone on one for a really long time. Being someone who quit his full-time job simply because his boss said no to his leave request to go on a free trip to a new country, I took my chances and accepted the invitation without hesitation.
So in the last week of Oct 2016, I went along with 20 something “social media influencer” (mostly from the Philippines), on a fully sponsored tour around two major tourist attractions cities of Indonesia – Bali & Yogyakarta. It is part of Indonesia Ministry of Tourism, Marketing Division’s strategies, to promote Indonesia as leading attractions among both emerging and avid travellers, mostly from Southeast Asia. The idea is to let this bunch of social media activist to experience first-hand high quality hospitality of Indonesia, inspiring them to tell about their amazing experiences to their fans and followers, mainly through their writing, photos and/or videos.
I must applaud their approach to marketing. Definitely taking the word-of-mouth approach to the new level. In the realm of social media taking over the world, where social experience by genuine customers, real travellers, sharing authentically about their experience about something, speaking incredibly volumes than deliberate marketing campaign led by the “sellers”, this is definitely an easy example of putting investment in the right basket.
Not entirely genuine, I would say, but it’s very close. I am no social media celebrity and my influencing power is limited to a much smaller group of people. But whatever I put online, I really mean it. From someone that hardly talked about Indonesia, to become a friend, a colleague, and acquaintance that can’t stop brining up Indonesia, Bali and Yogyakarta, when travelling and holiday come into a conversation. Certainly a shift of behaviour I’ve noticed in myself, which is not because I feel obliged to promote the country or to boast about where I have visited or what I have done, but because I genuinely had a good experience and want to honestly recommend it to other people.
Plus, other destinations around Indonesia are now among the top places that come to my mind when planning for next personal holiday, and I’m not even kidding about it.
This is one third of the bunch that I spent about a week with. I would say they are definitely a bunch more friendly, more interesting, more inspiring than an average person I’ve met. Thanks to them, I want to travel more, I want to take better pictures, and I have eyes on things other than what’s in my daily routine over the last 2.5 years.
This is the full bunch:
@IndTravel #WonderfulIndonesia #TripofWondersShare This: