Hotel Hustle

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One of the most interesting phenomena to come out of this technology crazed world are “influencers”. An influencer is a person who is famous on social media or have a big follower base for whatever reason. Usually they get paid for running content ads on their platforms. The reason I find influencers an interesting concept, is due to how many emails I receive from people who claim to be internet famous, looking for rooms.

Every email starts out the same with a subject line about exposure and then leads into an introduction about who they are, how many followers they have and their proposals for collaboration. The proposal is where I usually delete the email or tell my colleagues to read through and then delete. Without fail it’s always, “give me a free stay and I will promote your property through my social media.” Usually ending by it’s a win-win for everyone. I do admire their temerity in asking for free accommodations, but the cons of such an arrangement outweigh the pros. At least for the resort.

Truth is though, it really isn’t. Firstly, by agreeing to grant them a free stay it already provides a bias, because they now have an incentive to provide a positive review. Secondly, like most people I tend towards budget conscious, if this influencer I’m watching is staying for free and getting everything paid for, they aren’t providing me with information I can use. Lastly, there’s no way to measure that their video of their free trip can or will increase traffic to your resort.

Let’s be real though, the general audience for these social media superstars are not all financially capable of traveling as extensively as their favorite stars. It’s a consideration that always plays a role in my decision as well. At the end of the day however our social media usually has a bigger following than these supposed stars.

To summarize, you’ve basically given away a room to an influencer, that you could have sold and made a profit on and there’s no guarantee of return on investment. Beyond that you’re also incurring costs by having to pay someone to clean that room, eating any taxes and fees associated with their stay and if food is included your resort is also losing money there. Even worse, there’s still a chance that the review given will be a negative one, because they expected the free ocean front full amenities suite and not your basic room with a garden or pool view.

Am I saying that I’d never welcome a collaboration with an influencer? No, but that would and should come in the form of them booking their own accommodations, experiencing the resort and island without bias and then reaching out to ask permission. At least then they’ve had an experience that wasn’t affected by the arrangements between them and the resort. Their review will be honest and the relationship is mutually beneficial as resorts can comfortably use the honest reviews for their own social media promotions without selling a false narrative. q

Aruban born and bred Shanella Pantophlet is passionate about tourism. That is the world she studied and works in, so we might as well call her a specialist. Luckily for Aruba Today Shanella also loves to write. And together with the fact that the majority of our readers are tourists, we found ourselves a perfect combination for a column: Hotel Hustle.