Our Update on the current situation with blogger working with hotels
Currently media are going crazy and wild about one specific issue that actually also affects our day-to-day business. A blogger who was asking for a free stay in an Irish hotel has received a very harsh reply by the hotel’s owner and then went crazy by posting a video showing herself being treated in an offensive way by the hotel manager. Guess what, I am writing this piece while I am currently driving to the Principe Di Savoia in Milan - that one hotel that brought our entire business into operation. They were the first to contact US and they were the ones sending us a confirmation for a free one night stay in one of their Suites in return for Social Media coverage and a blog review since they loved my attention to detail in the hotel reviews plus the experience I already had back then. So for everyone who doesn’t understand or does not want to know how modern marketing works in today’s days, this article should not be read. However as one of the blogs that is mostly working in exchange for complimentary hotel stays, I found it necessary to post an update on this issue.
Let’s be clear with one thing: Travel Blogs, Influencer and Brand Ambassadors are all three defined as New Media Tools and are intermediaries for the travel business. Without putting anything into the focus, I would like to make a point as a student in higher education at the renowned Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne. Having already worked in renowned hotels as an employee in the Sales & Marketing Department, being the Editor in Chief of Luxury Executive and the Project Development Manager of a Media Company in Austria plus having access to thousand of marketing researches and concepts thanks to the Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne, I am having quite an insight into the issues.
First of all the main purpose of intermediaries is to be a connection between the tourism industry businesses and the consumers. Influencers, publications, newspapers, radio and television do nothing else than giving a wide variety of recommendations to the end customers. What the customer buys is his own personal decision which could or could not have been influenced by the intermediary. It is very hard to provide evidence to which extend the customer has been influenced by an intermediary but this is not the purpose of this paper.
Since the intermediaries do have costs as well (eg photo equipment, notebooks, printers, author’s, publishers, filming equipment, research cost, travel expenses, and so on and so forth) it is absolutely necessary that intermediaries get paid well for their work. And yes they get paid by the customer in form of printed magazines, subscriptions or television fees. But it’s a fact that Influencers and Bloggers are not paid by the customers. So therefore it is a free information channel for the customer. We could say it is unfair but since it is like that from the beginning, there is nothing to change on that. Let’s now think who benefits from bloggers most? It’s the service provider of course (eg hotels, airlines) that benefits from a good advertisement. And now lets consider the costs of a magazine feature. One full page A4 feature in an Austrian magazine that is read by 70.000 people sells it’s one page features for 2.300,00 euro. On the other side, one magazine costs 5 euro per issue. Well that makes a huge revenue and this has always worked. So what is the issue now with blogger being invited to hotels in return for an exposure that is worth far more than just 2.300 euro. It’s not unfair, nor is it undeserved and also it’s not fake at all. Please note I am talking about bloggers that actually do stay at hotels and not those who just pretend to have done so (read here). It’s a shame that this one incident is harming the entire business because of one hotel manager that didn’t do his homework on how to adapt his marketing strategy to new media channels. Well now he does not need further exposure anymore so well done. I just remark that this story can also have a very negative effect. Every well educated expert in the marketing or tourism industry will tell that such a behaviour shows a lack of education from my point of view. I would never ever publish a statement to ban a group of people based on their job - it’s pure discrimination and absolutely unacceptable.
On the other hand there is the reaction of the blogger which was just too much. If we get ever declined by a hotel, the deal is done and life continues. That’s it and there is no need to blame even tough the hotel manager has the urge to share the request with the entire world. Again this is very unprofessional and a sign that he received such a request for the first time which also does not speak for the property. Now the entire situation escalated a bit with the owner of the hotel or manager sending an invoice to the blogger of 4.500.000 euros for the exposure generated “by him”. First, it might have been exposure because of him but he is not at all in the position to make any invoices since he is not the owner of the media and the media decides what to publish and post. Second, there is no need to take the time to keep this story running beside there is some real secret behind the story.
From our point of view and considering all the circumstances and steps in detail, we made our decision. For sure both of them, the hotelier and the blogger or vlogger are collaborating to increase their both’ visibility and reach of people. There is evidence that both the hotel in Dublin as well as the blogger received a serious amount of new follower and likes within short time. So basically they both benefited from their story which might only be artificially set up. Again, while there is no proof out of this story, all signs indicate the truth of our strategy and while these two parties gained a lot out of the process, it’s the other bloggers and intermediaries working hard with real and honest work as well as the hotels appreciating bloggers and alike who are suffering from the bad image. Bloggers are part of the system and shall be considered as such whether some hotels want or not. As luck would have it, there are also good sites of bloggers working with hotels. One example is the Villa Honegg in Switzerland which - thanks to Brazilian bloggers that have been invited for a one-night sty - gained so much visibility over night that they had to employ an entire marketing department and it is impossible to get a room still today if you don’t book months in advance. And how much did it cost the hotel? As hospitality insider, we know that hotels have a cost of an Empty room which is normally only considered when overbooking. So another sign showing that the hotelier in Dublin and the “offended” blogger worked together is the fuzzy email by the hotelier where he blames with arguments like: “Who pays the staff? Who pays for the electricity?” Well some honest advice to the hotelier (if he didn’t register yet - good luck in future if he does not know his costs) fix costs such as staff and electricity have to be paid anyway no matter if 1 room is occupied or all of them. On the other hand there are variable costs per room which only occur if a room is occupied.
Reasons why we have not encountered these issues:
- most of our hotel partners are carefully selected by either our Editor in Chief Daniel Egger or Brand Specialist Niklas Ziegler who have an extremely well feeling of the target hotel’s business and behaviour
- Therefore all our business partners are situated in the upper upscale market such as five star hotels and exclusive four star properties. These hotels are used to standardised media cooperations and therefore now how to handle media and what to offer
- Since our cooperating partners are luxury hotels, the majority of them would never be rude to media partners as a german slogan says “you always meet twice in life” and never forget there are situations where you might need something from the other partner.
What’s there about politely decline an offer and ask media to contact them on another opportunity? Does politeness really cots money? Is it fair to harm an entire business that is working well and fair? People within one business should just respect each other it’s just a code of honor.