Instagram 'influencers' pestering for free stays driving hotels 'crazy'

Instagram 'influencers' pestering for free stays driving hotels 'crazy'
Published: 19 June 2018 - 2:49 a.m.
By: Sarakshi Rai

It's 2018 and Instagram influencers are more or less the norm on any social media feed, and more and more international brands including hotels are tying up with influencers to form brand partnerships. However, all is not right in the influencer world, according to The Atlantic.

The report suggests that the growing number of influencers - some of them who just go by that term for 'freebies'- are driving hotels around the world crazy.

The Atlantic reported Kate Jones marketing and communications manager for Dusit Thani in the Maldives as saying: "Everyone with a Facebook these days is an influencer. People say, I want to come to the Maldives for 10 days and will do two posts on Instagram to like 2,000 followers. It’s people with 600 Facebook friends saying, ‘Hi, I’m an influencer, I want to stay in your hotel for 7 days. Others send vague one-line emails, like “I want to collaborate with you,” with no further explanation. These people are expecting five to seven nights on average, all inclusive. Maldives is not a cheap destination.”

However, more and more hotels are now looking at statistics and engagement to verify influencers. 

Jones further added that: “We look at engagement more than anything else ... We have to filter out influencers who have basically bought bots. There's a lot of those these days.”

So it doesn't come as a surprise that some countries now have regulations in place when it comes to influencers. In the UAE, annual fees for ‘influencers’ will be AED 15,000 as part of new regulations governing the use of social media for commercial purposes, sister-title Arabian Business reports.

One of our regular columnists Martin Kubler noted that he saw an exponential rise in the amount of social messages he received on behalf of hotel and restaurant clients from people offering blog posts and reviews in exchange not just for free food or a free stay.

He wrote in his monthly column: "To one particular person out there, whose openly communicated (nay, boasted even) claim to fame is that “I haven’t paid for a restaurant meal in forever”:  Well done. Not. You’re not a blogger. You’re not a content generator. You’re Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can only without his good looks. You’re everything that’s wrong with social media influencers."

However, despite being inundated by influencer requests, tourism boards are actively trying to work with Instagram users. Scotland's national tourist organisation VisitScotland opened the first ever Instagram pop-up travel agency in October 2017, allowing visitors to plan their own holidays to Scotland based entirely around other people’s Instagram photos. In a bid to attract more visitors from China, Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) chief executive office Issam Kazim revealed that the organisation recently worked with key media influencers in China to garner organic interest in travelling to emirate.

And with more than 1.86 billion active Facebook users, 284 million active users on Twitter, and more than 700 million Instagram users, the hospitality sector can no longer afford to ignore its social media marketing strategy. 

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