TORONTO—Gone are the days of traveling tech-free, leaving your phone at home and your worries behind. Travelers may even find it hard to imagine returning from a trip without posting content on Facebook or Instagram to document journeys. The trick, however, is to find the balance between screen time and serene time.
Today, everyone seems to have a social media account and enjoys sharing their latest adventure via digital channels. This, however, makes the space congested with content and influencers, leaving the average person’s content lost, regardless of quality.
The Four Seasons brand is hoping to change this with a new—and inclusive—program, Envoy by Four Seasons, inspiring content creators to share their visions with the world, all through the eyes of a traveler, while also giving creators the freedom to revel in and appreciate the present.
Four Seasons will work with four to six envoys each year—selected through an online application process—immersing each in a different destination.
“In recent years, the influencer marketing sphere has become a crowded space,” said Sarah Tuite, senior director, corporate public relations for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. “The popularity of influencer marketing and the influx of those defining themselves as influencers has in some cases led to challenges related to influencer efficacy and authenticity. Envoy by Four Seasons was born in response to these challenges.”
All forms of storytellers are invited to apply regardless of online following. If selected, the storyteller’s original work will come to life on their personal social media accounts as well as on Four Seasons’ brand channels.
“How the works of our envoys will be shared will depend on the unique nature of their craft. For example, if an envoy creates a mural or visual work of art, we will look to create opportunities to exhibit and share these works publicly, in addition to sharing via video content across our social media and digital content platforms,” Tuite said.
Rather than having the constant need to share content immediately after it’s captured, envoys can leave the technicalities behind to focus on their craft through a more mindful approach. To execute this process, Four Seasons has teamed up with five-time Emmy Award-winning storytelling and film studio Muse Storytelling, allowing each envoy to focus on living in the moment and sharing his or her story.
Four Seasons also curates and organizes the envoy’s entire trip from start to finish for an added convenience.
“Ultimately, our goal is to find individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures, and who specialize in an array of mediums and art forms,” Tuite said. “We will customize each envoy partnership based on their unique background, art form and the destination selected for them to experience.”
The idea behind this is that through these different art forms, an array of perspectives will shine through, encouraging not only inspiration but diversity and understanding.
“We believe that there is an opportunity for change as Four Seasons looks to share new perspectives and tell our stories in deeper, more meaningful ways through influencer partnerships,” she said. “Content is becoming more repetitive, and we want something different. We see an opportunity to discover an untapped pool of storytellers, to foster a greater immersion into our brand and to engage our audiences with more meaningful, relevant content.”
“Influencer” usually generates thoughts of a sizeable online following and interaction; however, this doesn’t always equate to quality content.
“A follower-blind approach will ensure envoys are selected for the quality of their content and their ability to craft a compelling narrative. Through this process, we hope to come across unexpected collaborators hailing from diverse backgrounds to create the kind of immersive content that resonates with and inspires audiences,” Tuite said.
So, what does the application process look like exactly? The online application features questions about the artists’ work, their inspirations, personality, travel preferences and, of course, samples of their work. This helps the brand get to know artists more personally, further informing the destination choice.
According to Tuite, most envoys will stay and create on-site at the property, with Four Seasons providing a workspace to foster creativity. In turn, artists will create an original piece reflective of the specific location and the Four Seasons brand.
The brand component is essential in this program, as Four Seasons aims to instill envoys in its ethos and allow that to come through naturally in their creation.
“Storytelling is intrinsically linked to travel. It’s a powerful way to connect with the people and places around us, sharing our experiences with loved ones as well as with a global community,” she said.
Destinations will pique the specific skill set and interests of each envoy, from exploring the bustling life of Shanghai, to climbing in the French Alps, or wandering the deserted beaches of Bali, Tuite said.
“They will be invited to immerse themselves in Four Seasons hospitality, in our people, and in the culture of their travel destination,” she said.
Envoys will also be some of the first considered for global brand events and property familiarization trips and be at the top of the list for future collaboration opportunities.
According to Tuite, the brand sees value in collaborating with online content creators to share their experiences with digital audiences, given social media’s expansive reach.
“In today’s world, stories can be shared with the touch of a button and can reach a global audience in seconds,” Tuite said. “Through Envoy, we want to showcase the world of Four Seasons with our global audience, bringing people together around engaging and compelling stories from unique perspectives.” HB