The Playbook For The Modern Man

Thirsty Instagram Models Are Driving Luxury Hotels Crazy

Trouble in paradise.

What existed before the big bang? If a tree falls in the woods and no-one ‘Instagrams’ it, did it really happen? Is Tom Cruise a Scientologist? If a hotel doesn’t let ‘influencers’ stay for free, will it go bust?

The answers to many of life’s deepest questions may never be answered. The question of how luxury resorts should deal with the new class of brand-peddling marketers known as instagram models, however, is slowly becoming clear. They are going to have to become more discerning (but not reject the craze altogether).

The trend: Influencers like Erik Conover, Alexis Ren, Pia Muehlenbeck and Jay Alvarrez have been making a living on Instagram and Youtube, leveraging their social media popularity to travel the world in style. The problem: although elite influencers of this calibre are usually personally invited by hotel brands, according to The Atlantic, “An onslaught of lesser-known wannabes has left hotels scrambling to deal with a deluge of requests for all-expense-paid vacations in exchange for some social media posts.”

Kate Jones, marketing and communications manager at the Dusit Thani, a five-star resort in the Maldives, told The Atlantic that her hotel receives at least six requests from self-titled influencers per day, typically through Instagram direct message.

“People say, I want to come to the Maldives for 10 days and will do two posts on Instagram to like 2,000 followers.”

And even when they have more followers, “10 different bikini pictures a day on the beach is great for (a) bikini company… But you can’t even tell where it’s taken. It could be anywhere in the Maldives.” Others, she pointed out, send vague one-line emails, like ‘I want to collaborate with you,’ with no further explanation, and only 10 percent of the requests she receives are worth investigating.


so freakin happy to be in the tropics again @slsbahamar #slsbahamar #worldofsbe

A post shared by Alexis Ren (@alexisren) on

Some hotels have even gone so far as to ban social media stars from their establishments. This famously happened in Ireland earlier this year, when the owner of a boutique hotel wrote an open letter to a 22 year old requesting a free five-day stay in return for featuring the hotel in one of her videos.

“If I let you stay here in return for a feature in a video, who is going to pay the staff who look after you?”

“Who is going to pay the housekeepers who clean your room? … Who is going to pay for the light and heat you use during your stay? Maybe I should tell my staff they will be featured in your video in lieu of receiving payment for work carried out while you’re in residence?” he wrote on Facebook. His post went viral, polarizing public opinion. Some took the side of the blogger.

While others stuck up for the hotel.

This exchange betrays the same misunderstanding of the value exchange evident in the Kate Jones’ Maldives hotel situation. Think about it: Instagram has 800 million monthly active users (and counting), who are far more receptive to the recommendations of influencers and idols than they are to advertisements on TV, radio, or even the side of their newsfeeds, enabling hotels to directly market to new audiences in an authentic way.

Most hotels acknowledge this, explaining that the real problem is, “Determining how to work with them—and manage their requests” (The Atlantic). And the mistake on the part of amateur influencers is overestimating the value they bring to a hotel or establishment, meaning they need to be more selective, or—at the very least—put a bit more thought into their pitch.

RELATED: Instagram Boyfriends Reveal What It’s Really Like To Date An Influencer


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  • loudpen

    This post is a great read but I’m sorry it doesn’t tell the full story. And it’s all weighed on the side of the hotel/brand. Since I’m me lol, I have to say something. First off, I understand that these hotels receive tons of irrelevant pitches…but so do I. That doesn’t mean that I stop working with brands altogether, I’m simply more selective about who I work with. I mean you can’t run a business without collaborating with someone at some point in time…lol! So I think these hotels should develop a policy about working with bloggers, creatives, and influencers. And make the policy more than how many IG followers they have. Instead, make it a policy to only work with people who have done their research and who would write quality content that educates the reader instead of posting pics in their underwear while sitting on the bed in the room. Also, to be more diverse when working with influencers. Meaning look beyond Becky with the good hair and find influencers of color who represent an often ignored audience of followers who do in fact spend tons of money traveling. Additionally, hotels should stop acting like collaborating with influencers costs additional money when that’s simply not true. I work at a hotel at my FT job so I’ve seen the other side. If hotels could work with influencers when they have lower occupancy rates (less than 50%) then they won’t need additional staff and the influencer won’t have to deal with a hotel full of people (it sounds mean but influencers need a empty space so they can create the best content possible). Also prior to the stay, the hotel could let the influencer know that they should tip staff (valet, housekeeping, front desk, restaurant), throughout the stay so that the staff makes money beyond their regualar wage. My job comps stays and food for guests all the time for one reason or another and it only upsets staff when the person doesn’t tip because it makes us feel like we gave free service. The last thing a hotel should do is limit the number of comp stays it does and spread them out thru the year. This way, they can work with all types of influencers and stay relevant on social media all year long. Hotels must understand that influencers aren’t going anywhere and without us, social media would in no way shape or form be what it is. So if they want those double taps then they’re going to have to learn to compromise. #thosearethebreaks #influencermarketing #wildwildwest #innanetmarketing


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