- While the US is taking gradual measures to lift shelter-in-place policies, some celebrities and influencers seem ready to return to normal.
- This month, Clubhouse, an influencer group based in California, traveled to Tulum, Mexico, to launch a new "roaming travel house" called Clubhouse Explore, and documented themselves hanging out on the beach and attending a dance club.
- "Have y'all forgot about the pandemic?" one commenter wrote underneath a Clubhouse Instagram post.
- But despite some disapproving comments on social media, Chris Young, the president of the holding company that owns the Clubhouse brand, said he doesn't consider the trip a mistake.
- "The purpose of the trip was sort of two-fold," Young told Business Insider. "One was obviously to launch sort of our Explore page and our travel genre, but number two was also, it was a trip to just promote team bonding."
- California's Public Health Office currently has this advice regarding travel on the state website: "You can travel for urgent matters or if such travel is essential to your permitted work. Even though businesses around the state are opening up, avoid travelling long distances for vacations or pleasure as much as possible."
While some states in the US are still in the early stages of lifting shelter-in-place policies and restrictions on travel, many celebrities and influencers seem ready to return to normal.
Clubhouse, an influencer group with a physical house in Beverly Hills, traveled to Tulum, Mexico, to launch a new "roaming travel house," Clubhouse Explore, this month. The group of Los-Angeles based influencers and TikTok stars posted photos and videos of their trip across social media, uploading a three-part series to their YouTube channel Clubhouse BH (77,000 subscribers). The content house originally launched after cofounder Daisy Keech left another popular creator group, The Hype House, earlier this year."This place literally looks like a dream," Clubhouse cofounder Abby Rao says as the group arrives in the hotel, with no masks on, in a part one of the Tulum vlog.In the group's YouTube posts about its trip, members are seen visiting the beach, playing volleyball in a pool, and attending a local dance club where they float between different groups of people.
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Some social-media users voiced their disapproval about traveling during a pandemic in the comments sections on Clubhouse's YouTube and Instagram posts."Have y'all forgot about the pandemic?" one commenter wrote underneath a Clubhouse Instagram post.But many of the comments were positive, and Chris Young, the president of the holding company that owns the Clubhouse brand, doesn't consider the trip a mistake.
"The purpose of the trip was sort of two-fold," Young told Business Insider. "One was obviously to launch sort of our Explore page and our travel genre, but number two was also, it was a trip to just promote team bonding."
Young said around 26 people went on the Tulum trip. Fifteen Clubhouse members flew to Mexico in a private jet, while nine traveled on a commercial airline, he said. The trip lasted four days for most of the people who went, though some are still in Mexico, he said.
Clubhouse Explore's launch is happening at a moment when the number of US coronavirus cases continues to increase in the south and west — driven in part by a spike in young people contracting the virus.
Social-distancing measures like wearing masks and staying six feet apart are still recommended in most states in the US including California, which hit a new peak in its total number of COVID-19 related hospitalizations earlier this week. Health officials in California are now requiring that residents wear masks in public.All members of the Clubhouse group who traveled to Mexico tested negative for COVID-19 before their departure, Young said. He said the group filmed themselves getting tested, but didn't end up including any footage of the tests in their YouTube uploads.He added that they "wore masks part of the time, not all the time," though no footage of them in masks was included in the three YouTube vlogs.
While Young said the group was taking off-camera precautions, those fans who tuned into their presentation of the vacation across YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok would not necessarily have understood that.And as public figures with high visibility on social media, influencers who are continuing to gather in groups without social distancing or masks — especially in California, where many reside — may be sending a mixed message about the degree to which they are taking the public health crisis seriously.
"So are influencers like immune to coronavirus?" a YouTube commenter wrote on one of the vlogs.
'The first trip after quarantine'The Clubhouse trip to Tulum is also significant because it represents the first major new launch in the influencer travel sector since the pandemic shut down a big chunk of the travel economy in many countries.
In general, travel influencers have experienced a devastating hit to their businesses because of the pandemic. In mid-March, the lucrative market began a steep decline and brands canceled influencer-marketing deals and paid trips were placed on hold. To make up for lost income these influencers have been leaning into other content verticals like food and lifestyle to reach wider audiences.
Two Clubhouse members who recapped the trip in a video on YouTube described it as "the first trip after quarantine.""Three of our influencers, their niche is travel, and so they wanted to sort of show their audience, 'Hey, if you take the precautions, it's okay to be traveling right now and you should support tourism and the economies around that,'" Young said.
California's Public Health Office has a different stance and currently has this advice regarding travel on the state website: "You can travel for urgent matters or if such travel is essential to your permitted work. Even though businesses around the state are opening up, avoid travelling long distances for vacations or pleasure as much as possible."
The trip wasn't sponsored, though the group did receive offers from hotels to "gift" a free stay in exchange for social-media promotion, which Young said they declined.Young said that one company, the fitness-beverage brand Celsius, decided not to renew a contract with Clubhouse member Mariana Morais after the trip. The company confirmed it wasn't renewing a contract with the influencer, but said there were "other reasons that factored into our decision.""We had all of our brand ambassadors posting at-home workouts to ensure their safety as well as help encourage our consumers to stay active and healthy at home during this time," the company added.
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About half of the Clubhouse travelers have been tested for COVID-19 since returning, and most have been self-isolating with the exception of house member Isaak Presley who recently threw a birthday party, Young said.The group considered Los Angeles county's decision to reopen gyms, hair salons, and in-person dining at restaurants when deciding whether to schedule a trip this month and launch its new travel-oriented brand, Young said. Clubhouse spoke to individuals at the Mexico Tourism Board to identify the safest locations to visit in the country during a pandemic, he added.
"We felt that at this point in time it was starting to get a little more safe and we could do testing regularly," Young said.As for any upcoming travel plans, the group doesn't plan to stop traveling and has a trip planned to Iceland near the end of next month, Young said.The group also plans to launch an influencer content house in Bali soon.