Gary Arndt: Follow Him! (If You Can)
Since 2007 I have been travel around the world full time. I have no home or any established base. During the 8 years I’ve been traveling, I’ve established a social media following of over 1,400,000 followers with an audience of over 40,000 followers on 5 different platforms. My blog, Everything Everywhere, was named by Time Magazine as one of the 25 Best Blogs on the Internet and I was also named by both the Society of American Travel Writers and the North American Travel Journalists Association as their Travel Photographer of the Year.
During my 8 years on the road I’ve been to over 175 countries/territories around the world and all 7 continents.
Prior to my life as a traveler, I started an early Internet consulting firm. I sold the company in 1998 and afterwards started a web based business intelligence software company and one of the largest network of video game sites, which had a reach of 50,000,000 page views per month at its peak.
2. The phrase that best describes you
The ability to adapt is more important than the ability to plan.
3. Your greatest success story
Given the nature of what I do, I’m not running campaigns per se. Everything I do is a constant stream of engagement. Having established myself over 8 years of traveling, I think I’ve established myself to promote more personal projects in the future.
4. Who is your hero and why?
I don’t have many heroes. I’m not a hero worshiper. There are a few people who I look up to: Ted Williams (an American baseball player), Vince Lombardi (American Football coach), Philip Glass (composer),
5. If you could, what would you change in your professional environment?
As an influencer, I see things which most companies never see. I deal with my followers in a very personal way, often meeting them for drinks or dinner. I’m answering personal emails that deal with people’s fears and aspirations when it comes to travel.
As an industry, the travel sector has fallen well behind the food and fashion sectors in working with influencers. Travel is something which people have often made decisions on based on the recommendations of friends and family. Online, influencers often fill the role of well traveled friends. I’ve been told by the VP of Sales for an adventure travel company which sponsors me about how my coverage of a trip was responsible for over $150,000 in bookings…..in one month.
Most companies and destinations haven’t realized the power of working with influencers. Many of those who have tried have only had clumsy, ham fisted efforts.
Variety recently did a poll of who influences teens. What they found was that 8 of the top 10 people were not actors, musicians or athletes. There were online influencers.
6. What tools and/or techniques would you recommend?
There is nothing fancy that I use. I use the base tools for all the major social media platforms.
7. An advice for tomorrow
I am a big believer that people ultimately prefer to engage with other people. People don’t want to have a conversation with a brand, nor is it even really possible. Companies need to find a way to personalize what they are doing and put the face of a person behind it.
And here´s the third degree of Gary! If you're left wanting more and want to follow him closely, check out his Twitter: @EverywhereTrip
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