In this ‘Instagram age’, sponsored selfies and picturesque posts are the new advertising. Initially, this provided luxury hotels with a much-appreciated way to reach their target audience directly and authentically.
However, as one luxury hotel’s controversial (now viral) rant shows, this embracing of ‘influencer marketing’ has come at a cost. Having shown themselves open to this kind of product-pushing, five-star establishments are now experiencing an onslaught of requests from ‘freeloading’ third-tier influencers’ to “collab”.
As reported yesterday by News.com, “White Banana Beach Club on the Philippine island of Siargao said it was fed up with requests from ‘self-proclaimed influencers’ asking to stay for free in exchange for promotion on their social media channels.”
“We are receiving many messages regarding collaborations with… Instagram influencers,” the resort posted to Facebook, igniting a viral debate.
“We kindly would like to announce that White Banana is not interested to ‘collaborate’ with self-proclaimed ‘influencers’… And we would like to suggest to try another way to eat, drink or sleep for free. Or try to actually work.”
The post attracted more than 11,000 likes and 1500 comments—many of them positive.
“Whoever is curating your social media accounts, is actually doing an amazing job. Kudos to you for standing up to that ‘self proclaimed influencer’ who wanted to rip you off,” one said.
“Makes me wanna go to this place just so I can one-up those ‘influencers’,” said another.
However, many pointed out that the White Banana Beach Club, while justified in their frustration, may be aiming it in the wrong direction: “Those who ask are not real influencers or bloggers. They’re just a bunch of freeloaders,” Facebook user Jeman Bunyi Villanueva wrote.”
“Self-proclaimed IG (Instagram) influencers are social climbers … whose influence is an illusion and whose followers are usually dummy accounts, other social climbers mesmerised by freebies, or guys who only follow them for their provocative pics,” echoed another.
This was picked up on by a small time ‘influencer’, Lance de Campo, who told his 65.2k Twitter followers the White Banana Beach Club should not be surprised that up-and-coming bloggers would try their luck pitching collaborations.
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Not only that, but he claims the island paradise’s tourism industry has benefited greatly from the demographic the White Banana Beach Club criticised, saying: “Social media influencers’… have big contributions to boost Siargao’s tourism.”
“Siargao (would) not be as appreciated as it is now if not (for) the so-called influencers’ breathtaking and well-curated Instagram photos.”
After receiving backlash for implying the White Banana Beach Club specifically benefitted from influencers, as opposed to the destination in general, Lance quickly clarified: “To clear things up, I didn’t mean to credit Siargao’s tourism on influencers. I just meant that one factor of Siargao’s growing popularity is because of social media,” (News.com).
Likewise, the White Banana Beach Club later clarified their position, saying their post was, “Not against INFLUENCERS. Just against freeloaders,” admitting that they have actually worked with “a few of them, in different terms and conditions.”
So: is the White Banana Beach Club really negatively affected by the number of over-reaching DM’s in their inbox?
Or is it all a clever marketing ploy, a la Paul Stenson (a Dublin hotel owner, who slammed influencers in a similar rant last year to great effect and publicity)?
The White Banana Beach Club’s latest drink, “the snowflake”, may indicate the latter.
As might their tentative attempts to monetise the publicity…
But we’ll leave it up to you to decide…