This is how NOT to approach a hospitality business if you are an influencer looking to collab on a job. At the expense of social media influencer/Vlogger, Elle Darby, I wanted to share my thoughts about the right way to go about reaching out to businesses for freebies or marketing
For those of you who follow The White Moose Café, you have seen that they made the news this past week. Why? Because they posted a screen grab from an email sent by Elle Darby, an influencer who was trying to get a free stay in exchange in turn for publicity on her successful YouTube channel, on their Facebook page.
This post has gone viral. A PR company estimated that The White Moose Cafe has gained $4.3 million worth of free advertising, which led to the Hotel sending out a “fake” invoice to the blogger.
In reaction, Elle posted a YouTube video on her channel, explaining her end of the story. I have watched the video myself, and I want to tell you why what Elle did was out of order.
- I used to run a hospitality business & have actively worked with influencers.
- We run our hospitality marketing agency & encourage all of my clients to work with influencers.
- My wife and I are family travel bloggers!
Keeping my experience in mind, here are my thoughts on this topic of influencer marketing:
#1 – If you are a social media influencer and you want to work with businesses, wait for them to come to you, not the other way round
An email like the one that Elle sent to Paul Stevenson is the same as an unsolicited sales call or email. Small business owners who want to get involved in influencer marketing will come to you when they are ready.
My family business (The Grainary Farm Stay and Tea Rooms) wanted to find influencers who were relevant to my market. I took the time to explore Twitter, Instagram & YouTube, where I discovered the excellent Eat Sleep Breathe Travel, Deimantė Ona Baurinaitė, Caroline Elgey-White and Katya Varbanova, to name just a few.
I had a great experience and received a return on my investment every time. The trick is to be consistent. Put in the work and businesses will come to you.
#2 – If you are going to message independent business owners, at least do your research!
Let’s take a look at Elle’s email:
I hope this email finds you well.”
Who is she writing to, a long lost relative!?
A bit of advice to influencers and bloggers: if you want to query businesses for free stuff, contact Jon Buchan. He’s the king of that kind of thing.
The very least she could have done is to do the research and found out the owner’s name.
The White Moose Cafe and Charville Lodge are very popular
The White Moose Café and Charleville Lodge Dublin have nearly double the number of followers then Elle has. With more research, Elle could have gathered information about what Paul is like and how he works the social media world. He is very good at what he does.
Paul Stenson and his partner Jason are a breath of fresh air in the hospitality world.
#3 – Really?! Trying to get free nights to stay on the weekend in Dublin? On Valentine’s, no less!?
If any hospitality owner in Dublin is reading this and you have availability for Valentine’s Day weekend, then you need my help. Get in touch.
#4 – Pay the business some money if you want to work with them in the future.
This is a proven-to-work tactic that my wife and I use.
Step 1 – We book to stay at a property and pay the money.
Step 2 – After we have booked and we have our confirmation, I reach out to the property and let them know about our blog, the work we do, and our audience. I ask if there is anyone we could speak to at the property to see if we can work together in some way.
- Don’t ask for money.
- Don’t ask for a free stay.
- Try and find a way where we can bring value to them first, not the other way round.
We recently did this with a business near us. What we did was we paid to go and have Christmas dinner there. We wrote a blog and posted on our Instagram account. We sent it to the marketing manager, and they reached out to us and invited us to go back and stay with them for free.
Elle and her boyfriend just wanted to visit Dublin for Valentine’s, and they thought they could use her numbers to get a free stay at a hotel in exchange for a mention on Instagram or Vlog.
It’s as simple as that.
She didn’t do the research. She didn’t put the personal touch on it and, in my opinion, went about it the wrong way.
I hope her and all influencers, bloggers, Instagrammers, Snapchatites, Vloggers or any other people who are trying to get freebies in exchange for a “mention” read this and think about how to approach the next time they try and get a freebie from a small business.