By now, you've seen the hashtags: Luxurious, brand-sponsored blogger vacations are all the rage.
Beauty brands often whisk influencers away for lavish, all-expenses-paid vacations, and the iconic tropical #trippinwithtarte blogger holiday is a literal who's who of the makeup world.
But if you're anything like me, you're probably wondering, "How much do influencer trips like that actually cost?" How much are brands honestly spending to ensure that 20 big-name Instagram stars are photographed holding — and using — their products while posing "casually" by the beach?
So I decided to find out.
Since Tarte's trips are by far the most famous, I used them as my example: I took the brand's three most recent blogger vacations, added up the cost of literally EVERYTHING, averaged it out, and got a number.
And it's pretty astonishing. Let's begin.
Luxury flights: $192,000
Both Elnaz, her husband Hamid, and Mariam flew Emirates first class from Dubai to the Maldives, a trip which costs an average of $20K per person ($9.5K there and $9.5K back). So just to get these two bloggers (and one partner) there was around $60K.
Based on this, we can definitely assume that other influencers are being treated the same luxurious way. Assuming Tarte takes nine bloggers on vacation (their usual roster is between six and 12), and that seven of those take significant others or friends, that's 16 business class flights. A business class flight from LAX to Tahiti — often the first stopping point — is around $12K per person. Added all up, airfare may cost $192,000.
Private charter plane: $12,000
But that's just the first leg of the trip. Past vacations have taken influencers to beautiful tropical destinations like Bora Bora, Turks and Caicos, and Kauai. On the Bora Bora trip, Tarte hired a charter plane to take its 12 VIPs from Tahiti to the final destination.
The flight time from Tahiti to Bora Bora is just under one hour. This video shows at least 12 people on the plane. Based on the five quotes I got from different charter agencies, hiring a plane that size for that flight would cost an average of $12,000.
Positively economical in comparison, no?
Insane hotels: $80,000+
As expected, the accommodations on these paid vacations are seriously luxurious.
Past hotels have included the Ayada Maldives Resort, One & Only Resort in the Hayman Islands, and the iconic Four Seasons Bora Bora.
Laura Lee, pictured above, confirmed that on the Bora Bora trip, the influencers all stayed in the overwater villas that look "just like on Pinterest." Her vlog showed her staying in the one bedroom suite, which costs $2K per night. Assuming it's a 16-person blogger party again, plus 4 Tarte PR staff, that's 10 suites. For four nights, that's $80,000.
IMPORTANT: The more I researched this, the more I realized that my 20 person estimate was VERY small. This photo from the Bora Bora trip seems to show 37 people. JUST SAYING.
Food and drink: $16,360
Mornings on these luxurious trips begin with breakfast in bed in your private villa and end with a beautiful private meal on the sand with you, your 20 closest vlog friends, and all 3 million of your subscribers.
Private breakfasts for 20 = $3,680
Private dinner parties with entertainment = $12,680
TOTAL = $16,360
(These numbers represent the average cost of room service and a private dinner at the three hotels last tripped to by Tarte. It still assumes a 20-person party, which is very conservative.)
Luxury boat rides, snorkeling, private performances, fireworks, jet skiing, trapeze lessons, zip lines, cruises — nothing is too good for these influencers, and no expense can be spared.
Assuming there are two of these #fun events per day for three days, and assuming a per head cost of around $119 (the median price for all the activities I could price out), that's $14,280.
Promotional trips are usually organized around a big, buzzy product launch — products that the influencers get to play with (and blog about) before anyone else. But they don't JUST get the newest eye shadow palette — they get basically everything else the brand makes, too.
I watched multiple vlogs from recent trips, and priced out an average swag bag cost of $1,194 for JUST makeup and skincare. But that's not all; bloggers get lavish gifts from the brand — hats, bathing suits, T-shirts, backpacks and bags, customized robes, sunglasses, and selfie props. Added all up, Tarte may be gifting each influencer $2,000 goodie bags. 12 influencers per trip = $24K.
Blogger paychecks: $???
It has been suggested that, in addition to picking up the tab on an all-expenses-paid vacation, makeup brands also pay influencers a significant fee to attend.
One PR source, who does not work for Tarte, told me a makeup brand she works for paid an Instagram influencer $11,000 to go to a high-profile music and film event for one day and post three photos and one video under a pre-decided hashtag.
I haven't been able to find ANY information on how much, if anything, Tarte paid to ensure this roster of big beauty names would go on its trip. So I had to leave this field blank, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention it.
GRAND TOTAL: $338,640
Like I said, this is a conservative estimate — the actual cost of a trip like this could easily exceed half a million dollars. But for brands, who use these trips as both advertising AND client outreach — because don't you want YouTubers to use your products in their videos watched by millions of people? — it's worth it.
Plus, this is still cheaper than a single-page ad in a print magazine. So.