Travelling the world for free, visiting exotic and luxurious destinations and documenting your experiences for hoards of adoring fans.
Such is the life of an influencer. And it’s a good life, indeed.
Of course, when the reward is sweet, competition is high. These days, everybody wants to be the next big travel influencer.
How do you stand out in such a situation?
Have a reputable, legitimate account
This should be obvious but it needs to be said. Free hotel stays are worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars. While it is possible in theory to “growth hack” an Instagram account with stock photos and bought likes and followers, using such an account to gain free hotel stays would essentially be theft.
If you’re just beginning and need material to show off your skills, consider taking some overnight trips to nearby locations. Document the properties and share your (watermarked) shots with the property manager. In addition to building your portfolio, you could receive testimonials, referrals, and even paid compensation for your work.
Understand what hotels want
There are two main reasons why hotels and other businesses recruit influencers. The first is reach – gaining exposure to an influencer’s audience in hopes that their followers will convert into customers. The second is content creation – having the influencer use their creative abilities to create valuable marketing collateral for the hotel.
While influencer agreements often leverage both of these selling points, the main focus depends on the type of property and the type of influencer. A large chain hotel likely is most interesting in reach, ie. having a celebrity post about their stay. Smaller hotels with lower marketing budgets are likely interested in content creation. Unless you have an exorbitant follower count, content creation is probably the main value you have to provide to hotels.
Present yourself as a professional brand
Never underestimate how far your competitors will go to close the deal. Hotels receive influencer pitches every day and a simple email or DM pitch just won’t cut it. When you reach out to the hotel, direct them to a PDF or web-hosted pitch deck, with a stylish design, a summary of your qualifications and past work, and what you plan to provide for them.
Which leads us to…
Describe exactly what you intend to provide
This may be the most important step. If you’ve got a hotel’s attention and they think you could be a good investment, you can seal the deal by answering that vital question: “What’s in it for us?”.
At the Summit Lodge Whistler, every influencer we partner with has made it very clear right away what we will receive for offering them free room nights. They let us know how many posts we can expect and on which platforms, as well as what they will deliver us afterwards and what our usage rights will be. If we’re satisfied with the offer, we follow up with a content partnership agreement.
Ask questions and DELIVER!
Now that you’ve sent an awesome pitch and signed a content partnership agreement with a property, it’s time to wow them with your amazing work.
Arrange to meet with your contact at the hotel upon arrival, and ask them if they have any recommendations or special requests. Complete the work to the best of your ability, send any promised deliverables in a timely fashion, and enjoy your free hotel stay!