BOGOTÁ — Influencers are having an increasing impact on the Latin American tourism industry, with the majority of travelers now relying heavily on tastemakers’ recommendations when planning trips.

A new study from Axon Marketing & Communications found 80% of Latin American vacationers are swayed by influencers’ recommendations when deciding where to go, while 75% look to influencers’ advice when booking hotels or airlines.

And the power that influencers wield isn’t limited to consumers who do their own travel planning, according to the survey of consumers and travel industry pros from across Latin America. 82% of those who use travel agencies and services follow travel and lifestyle influencers as well.

But the report caveats that tourism sector and its comms teams needs to choose its influencers, and the way they communicate with consumers, wisely: “Tourism sector companies must understand that the impact of an influencer … within their strategy begins at the moment of choosing it properly. Selecting the wrong influencer could have an extremely negative impact on the image and reputation of the brand."

Although content drives 75% of consumers to particular influencers, 60% of travel companies select influencers based on values; 40% on how robust their consumer interaction is; and 35% on the size of their following.

“The quality of the content turns out to be more relevant than the number of followers. Brands must take advantage of this and understand that influencers can become the ideal channel to spread marketing content about travel, fashion and/or lifestyle trends,” the study said.

Another key finding was that consumers prefer content documenting real-life experiences rather than paid posts. In addition, micro-influencers (less than 100,000 followers) have greater credibility than celebrities.