This week we caught up with one of the most influential, and quite possibly one of the most hard-working, online names today. Described as an influencer, TV host, model and socialite, Hofit Golan is certainly at the top of her profession, followed by millions on social media, the darling of the red carpet and has recently picked up the lifestyle influencer of the year award. Golan recently visited Dubrovnik and Korcula, after being invited by the Croatian National Tourist Board and the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, and her updates on Instagram spread the word on the region during these challenging times for tourism. Sitting in the five-star Hotel Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik we found out just what makes this Israeli born influencer work so hard and just what is the secret of her success. Today she calls London home, but really she is a citizen of the world, and after weeks of being cooped up at home she just couldn’t wait to spread her wings again.
Is this your first time to Dubrovnik, and what are your impressions?
Yes, I have been to Croatia a few times before but this is my first visit to Dubrovnik. I think this is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. I can’t understand why it isn’t really more on the travel scene. We were walking through the stone streets of this medieval city and we were looking at the architecture. Not only is it so incredibly beautiful but it is so clean. The streets were glowing. It feels like brand new stone everywhere. I said to my friend that it feels like we are in Las Vegas in a replica of Dubrovnik. It almost seems too perfect to be real. I can’t name one city in the world where it is as clean as Dubrovnik. It looks like a film set. I actually saw some guys cleaning the streets and said “What are you cleaning? It is spotless already.” The sounds of the birds and the sunsets…wow! I don’t think I’ve seen such a glorious sunset in my life. And the food is excellent, very Mediterranean. And because there aren’t many tourists we have had the opportunity to meet and talk with lots of locals. I know we are seeing Dubrovnik in a unique time, and this is a special treat. I will always remember this city and this beautiful region.
Your social media is full of exotic destinations; it seems like you are constantly travelling
For nine years I was the face of Fashion TV and I travelled extensively with my TV show. I would normally be travelling to a new country every three of four days. In December, January and February I was in Miami five times, the Bahamas twice, the Dominican Republic, New York, LA, Milan, Paris, Moscow, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ghana, Maldives and probably I have forgotten a few countries along the way. My smart phone is my office.
What do you believe are influencers roles in the travel industry, especially with the current situation?
I was probably one of the very first people you could describe as a travel influencer, as I started doing this 20 years ago, long before social media was ever born. I used to be the face of a travel show for MTV. Then I travelled with BBC and ITV. I even hosted the Australian version of “I’m a celebrity get me out of here.” In some ways today with social media everyone has a voice, but then the wrong people also have a voice. They are able to say things that aren’t checked, aren’t fact checked and there have no liable. Like any other power there must be responsibility. I don’t really see myself as an influencer, I have been travelling and reporting about my travels for 20 years. What drives me personally is that travelling has been my passion since the day I was born. In fact, I felt tortured whilst at school and university because I couldn’t move the way I wanted to. I didn’t like the schedule and the structure, I felt like a lion in a cage. That was until I was 19 and I broke free and haven’t stopped moving since. My sister is the same, she describes herself as a digital nomad. For me travel is an education a much deeper experience than just taking photos. In fact, I really don’t enjoy taking photos and posting on Instagram. For me travelling is like telling a story. I started from humble beginnings. I was born in Israel; my parents were both in the military, and often I was home alone whilst they were shipped off somewhere to fight. We really didn’t have freedom to travel when we were younger. Travelling has opened my eyes to different cultures.
How long did it take to build up such a large following on social media, you have 1.7 million followers on Instagram alone?
Sometimes I focus on social media and sometimes I don’t, I think the number of followers you have doesn’t really mean that much. I am still a little old school when it comes to media. I used to work really hard before social media came along to get noticed by journalists and photographers. I had no PR person and no publicist, so I was doing it all on my own without social media. This took a lot of perseverance and determination. To win the attention of old school media, to get in magazines, we had to work hard, we had to prove a reason why we deserve column inches. That time was fun to me. Today it’s much easier with social media, we are a beautiful person and you post a sexy photo and millions can see you, including the traditional media. Younger influencers don’t even think about the old school media, and why should they because they are their own media, they are speaking to their own audience. Again I’ll repeat whilst this is a great opportunity it also comes with responsibility. For whilst you might have a huge audience what are you actually saying to them, what is your message? You must be responsible to your followers. Are you inspiring them?