We had the pleasure of speaking with Cameron Lee! Cameron was named one of the best travel influencers by Uproxx Travel and was profiled by The Washington Post as one of the Instagram influencers changing the way we think about the world. WIth his creates visual stories on his Instagram, taking its audience on a visual journey of the best in life, style, and travel, Cameron approaches each project from a marketing/PR perspective and executes through an artistic lens. We've asked him a few questions below to get to know him better!
1)Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born in Taiwan and moved to Los Angeles when I was a kid. Both of my parents worked in the airline industry, so I grew up traveling extensively. Growing up traveling gave me a unique perspective on life, it instills a global mindset in me from an early age. I learned to see the interconnectedness of all people and cultures, and to appreciate the beauty in diversity.
I studied advertising communications and marketing at Pepperdine University and worked as an actor throughout my college years. After I graduated, I moved into the marketing/PR world as there were just not that many opportunities for Asian actors. I did entertainment, tourism, and beauty marketing before moving on to do PR for a major luxury retailer in the US. I got to work with a lot of major players in fashion, which was very fun. It was very Devil Wears Prada, and I even got to work with Anna Wintour!
I moved into the influencer space initially due to my frustration of working with influencers that didn’t know how to deliver what a brand needs. I thought “how far can a person go if he/she were to actually deliver what a brand needs”, I took on the challenge as a joke initially and it ended up changing the course of my entire career.
When my social media was starting to take off, I left my fashion PR job to do PR for a hotel brand so I can get a better understanding of how hotels work with influencers. I approached influencer marketing as a business and my background in PR/marketing really contributed to my success and brought me to where I am today.
2). What are your favorite places that you have traveled to?
The past 2 years I stayed at some of my favorite places to date, Château de Versailles in Versailles, Château de la Messardière in Saint Tropez, and La Bastide in Gordes. Interestingly, they are all Airelles properties. It’s rare finding a hotel brand that encapsulates who I am as a rand and what I love as a traveler. My favorite is Château de Versailles, it is the first hotel that’s actually within the gates of Versailles. Staying there was the equivalent of staying at a museum, every corner has a history and real artifacts from the 18th century. It’s truly an experience that I still think about today.
In terms of destination, London is very close to my heart. I fell in love with the city few years ago and now I spend a lot of time there.
3). Tell us about your business?
I work with brands/destinations/hotels by creating visual stories that showcase the best they have to offer through my social media platforms. I work through my ig and tiktok, both are @TheCameronLee. My focus is on luxury, so I only take on projects that truly align with my brand. I also have a blog at www.outwithcameron.com , but my focus is more IG and Tiktok.
I’m also a speaker and educator on social media branding. I’ve spoken on panels at Meta, Pinterest, Pepperdine, and many travel and marketing functions.
I have a creative marketing agency called OWC Media Inc, where I work with brands on social media branding and partnerships.
4) What’s it really like to be a travel blogger/influencer?
It’s not as glamorous as you think. People only see the result, not what goes on behind the scenes. Getting up at sunrise to get photos is a norm, and not only that, you also have to be camera ready at sunrise. You need to know how to work a camera, how to frame shots, how to edit, and how to write. Before every trip, you need to get outfits planned out, scout locations, come up with video concepts, and the overall narrative for the trip. I call it operation no sleep when I do content trips. There are often times I get less than 5 hours of a sleep a day for an entire week.
To be successful, you also must be a businessperson. You need to know how to pitch, secure, and negotiate your deals, and this is where most influencers fall short. Most influencers are creative people, they don’t know how to handle the business side of things. I know people that have over 2mil followers that don’t know how to secure a single hotel collaboration on their own.
5) What does travel mean to you? Why do you feel it’s important?
Traveling is one of the best ways to gain a global mindset. It allows you to see the world from different perspectives and to learn about different cultures. In today's increasingly globalized world, it is more important than ever to have a global mindset. Traveling can help you develop a greater understanding and appreciation for diversity. It can also help you become more humble, as you realize that there are other ways of life that are different from your own. By exposure to different cultures, travel can help you become a more well-rounded and compassionate person.
6) Do you have any travel tips or hacks you can share?
Get global entry. It is worth the time and effort to get it. It’ll make your life so much easier when you do this.
7) Where is somewhere that you really want to travel to next?
I want to go back to exploring in South East Asia. I was supposed to go to Thailand and Japan in 2020, but then the world got shut down. I’ve been thinking about doing those soon.
8) Do you have any funny travel stories?
I lost my passport in Mykonos once and I had fly to London. It was a whirlwind of talking to a bunch of people. I ended up flying to Athens to the US Embassy to get an emergency passport. I was at the US Embassy so early that there wasn’t a lot people there so when it comes to taking my passport photo, I had a full on photoshoot with the passport photo taker there to make sure I got the perfect shot. At one point, I even left to redo my hair in the restroom then returning to take more photos.
9) Do you prefer Cold or Warm destinations?
Definitely warm. Although I do love visiting places during winter that have beautiful Christmas decorations.
10) Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travelers?
Just do it. Don’t wait for someone to take a trip with you. You will end up waiting forever and eventually not even taking the trip. Don’t be afraid to travel solo if needed. I feel like a lot of people have the resources to travel, but they don’t because they are afraid of the unknown.
11) What is a day in the life of your travel adventures as a travel influencer/blogger?
The most insane day I had was flying to London from Ibiza in the morning, got off the plane, went to my hotel in London where I had another luggage with 4 suits packed, grabbed that one, then went to the train station and hopped on the Eurostar to Paris in the afternoon. I was in 3 countries in the pan of 8 hours.
12) Are there certain essential items that you have to have or bing with you on your travels?
All my gear for content creation, universal plug adapter, and a great external battery for the phone. I also have a very extensive skincare regiment that I take with me everytime I travel, which most people find ridiculous. My skincare bag weights 12 lbs.
13) Does having a big following on social mean much these days?
No, I’ve been saying this since day one, it’s about the quality of the content. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have and honestly most influencers are buying their followers and engagement. To me, it’s about producing quality content that’s on brand that the brand can reuse.
I talk about this in my keynotes- someone that’s really hot with millions of followers and high engagement doesn’t necessarily make that person an influencer, a true influencer has the ability to influence, someone that’s really hot is just someone that’s really good to look at.
14) Having worked on the brand side, what is something hotels/destinations are doing wrong when working with influencers?
Social media often times are ran by someone very junior in marketing or someone who’s forced into having it as their responsibility. The number one mistake I’ve experienced is people only looking at vanity numbers, meaning the number of followers you have and the number of comments and engagements to have. All these numbers can be purchased or faked by engagement pods and are not good indicators of someone’s work. The algorithm is awful so you can’t judge someone’s work solely on these vanity numbers. It’s also about the quality of the followers and who they are.
The second mistake is planning too full of an itinerary where the creator has no time to properly gather content. I understand brands want us to experience everything but when they plan too much, the quality of our work suffers. I’ve been able to produce the best content when I was given freedom to explore and shoot how I would shoot.
The bottom line is if you agree to work with a creator, let them create and do what they do best. The more control you impose, the less you’ll get in return.
15). Where can our readers learn more about you and connect with you?
They can find me on IG and tiktk at @TheCameronLee and my website is www.outwithcameron.com