The emergence and rapid growth of the creator economy has reshaped the landscape of work, blurring traditional distinctions between leisure and labour.

Increasing numbers of people are turning to platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Patreon to showcase their skills, knowledge, talents, and perspectives as paid content creators.

As individuals increasingly seek to profit from their content, it becomes imperative to understand the sociological dimensions of this evolving labour paradigm. Do content creators perceive this as a sustainable, long-term form of work, or as a break from the norm? How has the emergence of the creator economy reshaped how we understand what it means to work in the digital era?

This research project explores the work of travel content creators and considers whether it represents a new form of precarious work in both the creator economy and the tourism industry. Through interviews with travel content creators, the researchers will examine their connections with existing industry institutions, including the role they play in tourism organisations’ marketing strategies.

The research will also explore how the workers arrived at this type of employment; whether they consider travel content creation to be a form of work or a hobby; how it provides or supplements an income stream for the individuals involved; and the implications for long-term work goals in an evolving industry.

Interviews with key tourism body representatives will also explore how this group are understood from the perspective of the tourism industry.

Research questions

  • How does the creator economy function as a workplace and content creators as workers?
  • How do content creators manage work relationships with industries?
  • How does digitally mediated work, such as content creation, and the creator economy as a digital ecosystem, fit within our wider understanding of the increased fragmentation, informality, and internationalisation of work?

Method

  • Analysis of 100 travel content creators’ YouTube vlogs focusing on lifestyle videos (day-in-the-life and realities of being a travel content creator videos) and how-to videos (including how to be a ‘successful’ travel content creator and how to be paid to travel).
  • Participant observation at one of the largest travel and tourism trade shows in the world.
  • Interviews with English-speaking travel content creators.
  • Interviews with industry stakeholders, including UK and USA-based tourism boards and PR marketing agencies.

Researchers

University of Aberdeen
University of Aberdeen