How many times on Facebook, Twitter, and especially, on Instagram have I seen people calling themselves as influencers in luxury travel? Hundreds, probably thousands of times. It wasn’t difficult to guess that only a few of them really knew something about marketing. The Atlantic has published a brilliant article by Taylor Lorenz about wannabe social media stars who are driving some luxury hotels crazy with the constant stream of free stay requests.
Photo by Tracy Spence.
Naturally, hotels are happy to get endorsements and promotion from people who are widely followed on social media. If hotels have to pay for social media stars’ attention, it becomes a business case that a manager can assess if it is likely to be profitable. Can the influencer deliver such exposure to the hotel that it brings customers to the rooms?
Often, the answer is no. Yet, hotel managers have to use their valuable time to analyse the requests. Popular hotels may get even 20 requests per day from social media marketers.
The Atlantic writes:
Jack Bedwani, who runs The Projects, a brand consulting agency that works with several top hospitality brands, said that he’s close with the PR manager for a new hotel and day club in Bali. “They get five to 20 direct inquiries a day from self-titled influencers,” he said. “The net is so wide, and the term ‘influencer’ is so loose.”
The brand consultant gives a couple of bad examples how some self-acclaimed social media stars have behaved:
Bedwani said that it’s critical that hotels set explicit terms in their deals with influencers. “I know a major brand that opened up and flew in a plane full of influencers,” he said. “Three-quarters of them didn’t even post. It was a major fail from their team.”
Jones, meanwhile, said the Dusit Thani Maldives has all but ceased working with fashion influencers after she discovered that many simply wanted a pretty backdrop for their swimsuit shots.
What has happened seems to be a case of amateurs vs professionals. Hotels are in business of providing accommodation and other services to travelers. Professionals manage the marketing of hotel brands. It is a long, tedious and costly process that never ends.
On the other hand, amateurs who have gained thousands or tens of thousands social media followers believe stories they hear from star influencers who travel for free, or are even paid to travel and promote a specific place. Some hotels only work with influencers they already know who have a reputation they can trust.
Of course, there are influencers who know that they are in the marketing and promotion business and know their business. Professional marketers who have chosen social media as their channel are actually lamenting the loss of reputation the amateurs are causing to their business.
Here is the entire article on The Atlantic: Instagram’s Wannabe-Stars Are Driving Luxury Hotels Crazy