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A luxury Maldives resort says it is contacted ‘at least six times a day’ by Instagram ‘influencers’ asking for extravagant freebies

  • Influencers often receive free products and experiences in return for exposure on their social media channels.
  • Many luxury hospitality brands benefit from relationships with influencers, as it allows them to market themselves to new audiences.
  • A spokesperson for a five-star resort in the Maldives says that the hotel is contacted at least six times per day with requests from ‘influencers’ for extravagant freebies.
  • Some of these people are just regular social media users with relatively tiny followings, she says.

It’s no secret that so-called “influencers” like a freebie.

If you follow any travel bloggers on Instagram, you will have likely have seen posts of them lying in a hammock in the middle of insanely turquoise waters, or standing at the edge of an incredible infinity pool to a backdrop of the Balinese jungle — and they’re often not paying for these luxury stays.

Most influencers are there on the basis that they will Instagram, blog, and vlog every aspect of their stay to their follower community.

Many hospitality brands and even tourism boards benefit from these kinds of exchanges with influencers, as they allow brands to tap into new audiences directly.

Lisa Targett, the UK general manager of tech company Tribe, an online marketplace where brands can match their briefs with influencers, told Business Insider: “Technology has given brands the tools to partner directly with their own customers. They can now leverage true word of mouth recommendations, at scale from genuine advocates who have had a 7-star experience.”

With almost five million between them, influencers Jack Morris (@doyoutravel) and Lauren Bullen (@gypsealust) pictured below have particularly large Instagram followings. They are constantly pictured at fancy resorts and hotels and once said that brands even pay them up to £7,000 to post photos— and it’s easy to see the appeal.

Woke up like this ?☁️

A post shared by JACK MORRIS (@doyoutravel) on

Here they are in the Maldives.

But some hospitality brands are growing tired of the expectation from bloggers — or people who claim to have influence.

Kate Jones, a marketing and communications manager at the five-star Dusit Thani resort in the Maldives, told The Atlantic that she gets at least six requests each day from self-proclaimed “influencers” requesting freebies.

And some of these requests come from regular social media users, “aspiring influencers” perhaps, but who in fact have relatively small followings.

“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,” she told the publication, adding that influencers will often contact the brand via direct message on Instagram.

“It’s people with 600 Facebook friends saying, ‘Hi, I’m an influencer, I want to stay in your hotel for seven days.”

Others, she says, will just send emails saying things like “I want to collaborate with you” — and that’s it.

“These people are expecting five to seven nights on average, all-inclusive,” she went on. “Maldives is not a cheap destination.”

According to Jones, only around 10% of the enquiries she gets are worth looking into.

Back in January, influencer Elle Darby made headlines after she asked for a free five-night stay in a Dublin hotel in return for publicity.

At the time Darby had over 90,000 followers on Instagram (now she has more). But she got more than she bargained for when Paul Stenson, owner of The White Moose Hotel, declined her offer and posted her request online, which then went viral. He subsequently banned “all bloggers” from his business.

“At the end of the day, if you’re not willing to spend your own money on a product or experience, you have no right to recommend your audience should,” Targett said, adding that there are creators using the Tribe platform who are “more than happy to purchase the product with no upfront incentive or guarantee.”

She added that resorts should be wary of influencers who contact them in this way.

“Influencers who approach hotels boasting their follower numbers often require greater scrutiny,” she said, pointing out that it’s important to verify that followers have not been bought or are bot accounts.

It’s crucial to work out what percentage of an influencer’s audience is actively engaged with the content they publish, Targett says.

“After all, why would you give an influencer a complimentary experience if all you get in exchange is a redundant or fraudulent audience?”

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