Is it possible for travel bloggers to get free hotel stays from major hotel brands while on the road?
I recently had the opportunity to speak with someone heavily involved in social media for a major hotel brand (and who wished to remain anonymous), in order to get a better idea of how things work from the other side of the fence.
The reality appears to be that major hotel brands often face challenges in dealing with travel bloggers because, as is usually the case when working with (or within) any large company, a number of decision-making obstacles must be addressed.
For a start, it is important to understand that individual hotels included within the major brands often fall into different categories. Some could be franchises, while others are privately owned or managed. As a result, decision-making often depends on the local team and the property type. These variances can create challenges for a blogger; a hotel may have strict rules due to a very tight profit margin or very little spare capacity due to its central New York City location. A percentage of hotels within a brand may even exist without a social platform altogether.
If you are a travel blogger seeking to request a free hotel stay from a major hotel brand, this is how to go about it.
Most major hotel brands have an online system that requires the travel blogger to visit the brand’s media or press center to file a request for ‘media accommodation’. Stop here. Before you fill anything out, recognise the fact that one person will probably have to pitch this to someone else within the company at some point. For this reason, it is critical that you, as a travel blogger, get it right at this stage. You must make it as easy as possible for the person receiving your request to positively persuade whomever they need to at the hotel.
While the corporate mindset is evolving on the value of social media, this pitch can often be very difficult. A great deal depends on the local team and the ability of the brand’s public relations representative to translate the potential value you can bring the hotel.
One of the primary considerations involved in a major hotel brand granting a travel blogger a free hotel stay often comes down to simply deciding whether or not the travel blogger is a good fit. If you are a backpacker-focused blogger requesting a $700 a night villa in the South Pacific, you are obviously not going to be a good fit.
Sometimes the final decision is made by a team of people, in which case, a single team member who is not on board or does not understand the opportunity will ensure that your free stay is a no go.
Ultimately, a travel blogger who can clearly and concisely convey to all those involved in the decision-making process the potential value they offer, will greatly increase their own chance of scoring a free hotel stay.
Be sure to make the most of the box requesting “any other details you may wish to add” on the hotel’s form. Fill out as much as you can, stay positive, be professional, and be sure to illustrate the value you will bring as a travel blogger.