Banning Influencers Is Not The Answer

With the rise of #bloggergate, we wanted to look into why a blogger reaching out to a hotel ended with disastrous consequences. Hotel social media marketing is much more important than you may think.

Recent events (like the one we covered in our How Not To Do Influencer Marketing blog) have seen the world of social media marketing for hotels be questioned and debated. In fact, it has got so heated that the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission are investigating the role of social media ‘influencers’.

The blogger, who we will not name, stated in their video “The sooner the blogging industry is realised [sic} as a proper industry, the better.” Yet the hotel’s owner believes the email exchange has been detrimental to the hospitality industry’s opinion of bloggers. The owner stated that #bloggergate “puts into question the authenticity of influencer marketing.”

What went wrong?

Progressive hotel digital marketing doesn’t neglect the newest trends or the need for bloggers; we understand how important professional practice of social media is. Read on for our tips on how future #bloggergate scenarios can be avoided.

Initial Contact

In this situation, the blogger reached out first. Lots of bloggers are self-employed and not agency represented, and while this in itself isn’t a problem, when a blogger sources their own collaborations best practice can be forgotten and it can become a minefield. In this instance, the blogger did not do their research – had they done so, they would have seen that the hotel had made a short video detailing why they don’t like influencers and don’t work with them; this is where agency’s like ours come in. We can not only compile lists of influencers for your property to work with and present suitable candidates for sign off, we also look into any bloggers that do reach out and determine whether they might be the right fit for the hotel or not. This helps to avoid wasting time at the hotel and also avoid any awkward compatibility-based situations – essentially, we can be the bad guy and say no!

Misinformation

This influencer stated in their video that hotels could not go and get the same exposure from magazines and other media outlets for free… this isn’t always the case. Reviews can be sought and placed in magazines and other media outlets without charge – this is a regular occurrence in marketing and a key facet of effective PR for hotels. An agency such as ours is more than happy to contact suitable publications and invite them to review in return for a stay or experience at the hotel. Don’t get us wrong, we are aware of many magazines and bloggers that do ask for a fee to be featured (it is becoming far more difficult to gain free exposure due to the ever-changing face of print and online). Hotels don’t usually have a budget in order to host these influencers on top of the expense of the room, drinks, dinner and more for two – especially if it is longer than one night. They see this as advertising and something that they would much prefer to pay for knowing the outcome that they will get. With reviews, that is not always the case.

We’ve mentioned it before, but the idea of a collaboration can be a touchy subject – on both parts! Hotels in particular know what they have to offer, and price their room rates accordingly. Many do not see the value of hosting a blogger and we must stress that it is not the norm to host bloggers for more than a night or two. This particular blogger asked for 5 free nights at a time when hotels rely on business. Any dates around holidays, such as Christmas or Valentine’s Day  are a lucrative time to bring in business direct, and we work hard with our hotels on a campaign basis to create experiences and offers that will excite guests and gain direct bookings. This simply was not the right time to make such a request on the part of the blogger, and doing so has regretfully perpetuated the bad feeling towards influencers being portrayed as ‘freeloaders.’

Our Senior Account Manager Dan, believes that “using influencers to drive exposure for your hotel is a powerful brand-leveraging tool.” He went on to explain why – “Not only can influencers be incredibly cost-effective for hoteliers, but their use is also incredibly natural as a form of hotel marketing and hotel PR.”

That’s another reason why hotels work with agencies; they can help get the right people through the door to review and also liaise over dates and any touchy subjects such as costings or travel expenses.

Confidentiality

It goes without saying that the hotel should not have shared this email exchange to a public forum. Confidentiality should always be a priority for those working in hospitality. As we have already discussed in our unsolicited responses blog, messages that you have not invited can be classed as spam by many social media networks. The hotel could have easily dismissed the bloggers email without a response, or more professionally, explained why the proposal was not suitable. We regularly receive unsolicited requests to stay at our client’s hotels and much prefer to research and source our own influencers, bloggers and publications. As embarrassed as this blogger might feel for a while, hopefully it is a lesson learned for all that mutual exposure can work for both the property and the influencer, but it should not be expected and a blogger must conduct themselves in accordance with PR best practice.

“Sadly, there are some influencers who feel that they can take advantage of their successes online and use this to receive extensive leisurely benefits. When getting involved with influencers, it is incredibly important to look at the costs and the benefits of each potential complimentary stay offered. Hotels need to ensure the exposure received balances with the cost of having that influencer visit your hotel.” Dan Robinson, Senior Account Manager

Unfortunately for both sides, neither have come out on top. Both the blogger and the hotel have opened themselves up to the rest of the world for criticism – none of which have been beneficial for their brands.

Our Final Thoughts

Our final word on the matter? When hotel marketing and PR are done correctly, and social media is utilised effectively, it can be mutually beneficial for both the property and the content creator. It is worth having bloggers stay and review your hotel, but it has to be fair on both sides regarding costings and exposure – it’s a partnership.

Take the stress out of your hotel marketing; if you would like to talk to someone about what social media marketing, influencers and what hotel PR can do for your business, feel free to contact us or phone and a member of the team would be happy to help.

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