Are Influencer Brand Trips Still Relevant? Insights from Tarte's Trip to Dubai

Lestraundra Alfred
Lestraundra Alfred

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cosmetics brand Tarte was the center of social media controversy after hosting a lavish influencer trip to Dubai

Last week, cosmetics brand Tarte had my TikTok For You page in shambles.

The brand partnered with Sephora Middle East to host a group of popular creators from around the globe in Dubai. The three-day trip was to promote the upcoming launch of Tarte’s new foundation.

Participants and a plus-one were treated to a luxury experience complete with business class flights on Emirates and private villas at the Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Hamra Beach.

From the moment participating creators started documenting their travels, the trip was met with mixed reactions from social media users and marketers. Some users felt the luxurious trip was out of touch during a time of economic insecurity.

Other social media users felt the trip was a standard tactic often used by brands who prioritize working with influencers and praised Tarte’s efforts.

@sarajmccord

#alixearle #tarte trip: What you didnt know about the Dubai influencer trip with Alix Earle by Tarte Cosmetics — lets break it down from a business perspective

♬ Mastermind - Taylor Swift

In addition to the trip being considered insensitive by some users, others pointed out the lack of diversity and inclusion both on the trip and from Tarte’s product line.

TikTok users pointed out the lack of racial diversity of creators invited on the trip and found that scenario reminiscent of criticisms the brand has received regarding its lack of shades for darker skin tones in the past.

Was Tarte's trip to Dubai an effective marketing strategy?

One video that caught my attention was a “get ready with me” post featuring a handful of creators who were on the trip.

As I watched the creators do their makeup and chat about the products they liked it struck me that they weren’t mentioning Tarte products. In fact, many of them were raving about the products they loved from other brands. Does that make the trip a bust for Tarte? Not necessarily.

@monetmcmichael

welcome to the girls room 🎀💕🌸👛 get ready with us in dubai @alixearle @itsaishamian @azramian #trippinwithtarte

♬ original sound - monet mcmichael 🤍

Though the creators talked about other beauty products while on a trip hosted by the brand, Tarte has been a trending topic since the trip began on January 18 and the hashtag #TrippinwithTarte has over 130 million views.

The organic reach, including posts from those who felt the trip was in poor taste, can’t be denied and has likely exceeded the exposure a brand could get from running a 30-second Super Bowl ad (and likely costs far less).

It’s also worth noting that selling foundation likely wasn’t Tarte’s only goal here — relationship-building is another big objective.

The Importance of Relationship-Building in Influencer Marketing

While lavish trips such as Tarte’s aren’t attainable for the everyday person, this scenario highlights the importance of relationship-building in the influencer marketing space.

Brands have to cultivate beneficial relationships with creators, and a great way to do this is by offering memorable experiences.  Additionally, creators have to establish trust to build a relationship with their audiences which can be done by bringing them along on said experiences.

Ultimately these trips are an opportunity for brands to build relationships with creators — getting the For You Page talking is a big bonus.

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