How to Get A Complimentary Hotel Stay as A Blogger
One of the most asked questions I get is, “how can I work with hotels too?”
This question is asked by my peers and non-peers in the industry, and I guess no one really has shame in DMing a stranger for contacts nowadays? That’s a whole other blog post that I’m planning on tackling later, but at least once a week, someone is asking me about partnering up with hotels.
While I don’t mind helping out my friends, I do think there are a few things that people should ask themselves before attempting to pitch a hotel for a complimentary stay. After all, I find that hospitality and fashion are quite different in their needs and goals.
Why do you want to partner up with this particular hotel? What made this hotel stand out to you?
Does your brand align with the hotel? Think about their overall look/aesthetics and make sure that their property will go along with your brand.
If you are partnering up with a big hotel chain, ensure that you’re OK with possibly not being able to work with their competitors in the future. Some hotels are picky about who you’ve worked with in the past.
What are you offering that’s unique? What makes you stand out from the hundreds of other bloggers emailing for the same thing?
But what if my numbers aren’t high enough?
More often, hotels are seeking quality over quantity, which is why I adore working with the hospitality industry. They don’t care about your numbers as much as they care about the quality of the content you’re producing. Engagement rate still plays a role, but you don’t need to have a ton of followers to have good engagement rate.
To assist you guys further, I’ve interviewed a handful of my favorite marketing peeps that I’ve worked with and asked them for advice on how a blogger can land a partnership with a hotel.
Before we dive in, I just want to send a huge thank you to Jennifer, Sarah, Ashley, Marissa, and Amy for taking the time to participate and answer these questions!
Question: What are 3 key things you look for when deciding whether you are going to work with a blogger?
Jennifer (Four Seasons Residence Aviara): Photographic skills and style is most important for me! I really look for high-quality photos that are aligned with our brand vision. Less posed with engaging storylines are important. A good influencer should be a storyteller and not just a model. I also review engagement levels and market audience.
Sarah (Mandapa, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve): Quality of content, if they’re highly engaged, and their personal reputation.
Ashley (La Peer Hotel): We always look for influencers are on-brand, curates original and high-quality content, and have great engagement rate.
Marissa (Something Social LA): When starting any influencer campaign, three things that we look for, among many others, are: an authentic and engaged following, if their audience is part of the target audience for the particular brand that we are working with, and if a collaboration with that influencer would best represent the brand in the digital space. We always want to make sure that the reputation of each of our brands is upheld and we take this into account with every individual partnership.
Question: Does creative, high-quality content triumph follower count? In other words, does the content matter more to you versus the number of followers someone has?
Sarah (Mandapa, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve): As a luxury hotel, we are very picky about who we’d like to work with. 95% of the times we decline these requests simply because their content is not up to our expectations. One time we had to decline a verified influencer with 24M followers because her content had too many selfies and was a bit vulgar (to us). As a luxury brand, we don’t want to be associated with that. If we love someone’s work but their follower count is considered low (based on our expectations), we would usually bargain to get more posts and photos — that usually works well on both sides.
Marissa (Something Social LA): We definitely take quality of content into account when assessing whether or not an influencer is a good partner for one of our brands. But in the end, it really comes downs to the goals and needs of the client. If they are in need of more assets for their social channels, we’ll often work with influencers who don’t have as high of a following because we know that good content will come from the collaboration. If the client is set on content but is in need of more exposure, the content piece isn’t as important and thus, follower and engagement stats are what determines our outreach to specific influencers.
Amy (CIIC PR): Absolutely! High-quality, relevant content makes all the difference as well as how the influencer’s audience is responding to the content.
Question: What is one tip you can give to those who are looking to work with hotels?
Jennifer (Four Seasons Residence Aviara): I appreciate influencers who come to me with a proposal and clear outlined vision of what our collaboration will entail. We get many requests and it impresses me when someone brings their own ideas to the table.
Sarah (Mandapa, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve): Please, please, please send a proper message and introduce yourself clearly. Why? I receive a lot of DMs and emails asking for collaborations on a daily basis and whenever I receive messages like, “hey, want to collaborate with me?” or an email that has the incorrect hotel name, I immediately get turned off. First impression matters and introductory emails are basically your CV that will determine whether or not we want to work with you. Also, list some of your previous work, this helps a lot.
Ashley (La Peer Hotel): Be specific right off the bat and transparent with the hotel/brand in terms of deliverables that can be guaranteed.
Marissa (Something Social LA): My number one tip is to be polite and professional. You would be surprised, or maybe not surprised, at how many influencers reach out with an expectation to be given comped experiences. Hotels, or any brand for that matter, have no obligation to collaborate with you. Show that you will be easy to work with and will handle things professionally. Someone with an attitude of expectation is an immediate red flag for us. Kindness goes a long way.
My second tip is to be open in the initial ask with what you are willing and/or able to provide and have a flexible outlook for collaboration. If you can do video content, that’s great, but not what every hotel needs or wants. If they ask for 5 photo assets instead, a willingness to compromise will go far.
Amy (CIIC PR): Do your research! I’ve received countless pitches where the influencer is cold pitching hotels and doesn’t even know where my properties are located. However, when I see an angle that is well thought out, well crafted and has insight as to why this particular hotel makes sense for a partnership or why the influence chose it, I am 10x more receptive and open to exploring a collaboration.
There you have it!
High-quality content, do your research, be intentional with your pitch, and most of all — be kind.