Should You Let a Travel Influencer Stay for Free at Your Hotel?
When you have a hotel, one of the main things you want to do is get people to stay there. This is why many hotels offer travel bloggers and other social media influencers complimentary rooms in order to promote their business. There are very few hotels that work with influencers, so if you’re open to it, you can use this to your advantage. However, before you decide to let an influencer stay for free at your hotel, there are some pros and cons that you need to consider. In this blog post, we will discuss both sides of the issue so that you can make an informed decision.
Should You Let A Travel Influencer Stay For Free At Your Hotel?
You can get cheap promotion for your hotel
One of the biggest benefits of letting an influencer stay for free at your hotel is that you will get free promotion for your business. When an influencer posts about their stay at your hotel, their followers will see it and many of them may be interested in staying there as well. They essentially act as a billboard for advertising your business. This can lead to a significant increase in bookings and can be a great way to grow your business at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertisement. Additionally, influencers typically have a very loyal and emotionally invested following and their endorsement can carry a lot of weight with potential guests.
An influencer can help you to reach a new audience
Another advantage of letting an influencer stay for free at your hotel is that they can help you to reach a new audience. More specifically, if you are targeting a specific demographic, an influencer can be a great way to reach them. For example, if you are trying to attract more millennial travellers, working with an influencer who has a large following of this specific age group can be a very effective strategy. Similarly, if you are trying to reach a global audience, working with a local influencer who has a large international following can help you to achieve this goal.
It can be a good way to open the door to other influencers
The hotel influencers industry is small, and a positive experience can go a long way in terms of word of mouth. That’s why, if you are looking to specifically expand your influencer partnerships, it can be a great tactic to build a good rapport with a few before reaching out to others. If you have a positive relationship with an influencer they will be more likely to organically promote your hotel and refer you to their friends. Additionally, you can use this experience to show others how mutually beneficial it can be to work together. This is why you should approach each influencer encounter professionally and with compassion.
An influencer can provide you with free content
If you let an influencer stay for free at your hotel you should always require them to post about their experience on their social media channels and/or blog. It’s mutually beneficial after all – you both need to promote fresh content. As they’re already capturing content, you can also often ask influencers to send you photos and videos in return for their free stay at your hotel. This can provide you with new images and videos that you can use on your own channels to promote your hotel. Influencers tend to have the same skills and equipment as professionals. So, you’re essentially getting these services for free, which could easily set you back hundreds of dollars if you were to hire a photographer or videographer to do the job for you. Plus, you’ll be exposed to their audience at the same time.
You can gain link-backs from influencer reviews
If the influencer has a good experience, they may write a positive review about your hotel on a reviews website or blog, which can also help to promote your business. To encourage this, be sure to provide the influencer with any relevant information about your hotel. This includes your website, social media links and where they can leave a review so that it’s easy for them to access. If they link back to your website, this can help improve your ranking on Google, and it can be beneficial for your own SEO. Additionally, you can make the most of this by reposting their blog content on your own and reposting their review on your social media.
If you’re looking to navigate using influencers to promote your hotel, check out our beginners guide on How to Leverage the Power of Influencer Marketing for Your Hotel on our blog.
You may not get the type of promotion you want
On the flipside, one of the potential disadvantages of letting a travel influencer stay for free at your hotel is that you may not get the type of promotion you want. For example, if an influencer only has a small following or their followers are not interested in travel, then their promotion of your hotel is not likely to result in many bookings. Additionally, if an influencer has a negative experience while staying at your hotel, they may give your business a bad review which can damage your reputation.
It can be time-consuming
Another potential disadvantage of letting an influencer stay for free at your hotel is that it can be time-consuming. You will need to be available to show them around and make sure that they have a good experience. You may also need to provide them with additional services such as complimentary meals or transportation. This can be costly and time-consuming, and it may not be worth it if you are only getting a small amount of promotion in return.
It can be difficult to measure the results
Another potential downside of working with a travel influencer is that it can be difficult to measure the results. While you may see an increase in bookings initially after an influencer stays at your hotel, it can be hard to track how many of these bookings are directly attributable to the influencer. Additionally, you may not see an immediate return on investment and it can take some time for the benefits of working with an influencer to materialise.
You may have to give up some control
One of the potential downsides of giving an influencer a complimentary stay at your hotel is that you may have to give up some control. When an influencer posts about their stay, they will likely include their own photos and write their own review. This means that you won’t be able to dictate the message that is being put out there about your hotel, or the images that they’ll be using. If the influencer has a negative experience, this could reflect poorly on your business and this may be seen by hundreds of people or more. If this will be too big of a risk for your hotel you may want to consider paying them for the work they’ll be doing – without doing so, it will be completely out of your control.
You’ll need to weigh up the value of opinions
Some people argue that giving away free rooms devalues the best hotels. While this is an ageing concept due to the rise in social media, if your typical guests are more exclusive, or of an older age group, then you may want to stay clear. Also, if you are perceived to be constantly giving away freebies, then influencers will start to expect it and may be less likely to book a paid stay after seeing this on their friend’s accounts. It is best to think about the ups and downsides of both first, rather than giving away hotel stays freely when you first start working with influencers.
Overall, there are both advantages and disadvantages of letting an influencer stay for free at your hotel. You need to weigh the pros and cons carefully before making a decision. If you do decide to let an influencer stay at your hotel, be sure to set some ground rules in advance so that you can get the most out of the partnership. While you may not be paying an influencer to create content and promote your hotel, it is widely accepted to outline what your expectations are before they stay. Whether this is in exchange for free content, a review or simply, a tag on social media.
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