Earlier today I read an amusing story regarding an “influencer” (whatever that means?!) being outed by a hotel. The blogger had asked for a free stay, and the hotel responded aggressively with a resounding no, making their highly inflammatory response public. I do get asked quite often how “freebies” go for someone in my position, so this seems like a perfect time to discuss.
Now – that doesn’t mean things don’t happen, but we weren’t born yesterday. How did my basic room become a gigantic suite with vintage champagne? Yeah – we get it. It’s appreciated and it’s awesome and fortunately, the more you do this – the less it affects you. You appreciate the gesture, you know the anonymity game is up and you then focus on how the hotel treats other guests. That’s the mark of a pro. Don’t look at how you’re being treated. Look how everyone around you is. That will tell any smart travel blogger A LOT.
Truthfully – Airlines, hotels and travel brands are like cats. They generally only offer or agree to freebies when they need something and want coverage. Press or media trips are different than freebies, because they generally involve experiences which are not yet public and aren’t for sale. We do a handful of these events each year, and always mention this in any coverage. The bigger your (genuine) following, the more of these you are invited on. Some are cool, but most are pretty boring and just make you feel important for being there. And they’re really hard work sometimes. They command your schedule, activities and are along watching you virtually all day. Basically, the freebie game is not very important in the world of GodSaveThePoints.com. It would be a lot easier if it was, but if you want a lifelong career, you must not have brands hold leverage over you.
What I mind is “fake” bloggers asking for freebies and delivering dismal results for the brand. It’s why brands say: NO to legitimate bloggers. It’s easy to fake Instagram followings, Youtube views and things of that nature. Frankly, If I haven’t heard of an “infulencer”, and they have more followers than The Points Guy or One Mile At A Time, I’m dubious. Being a fake influencer is no different than being a two bit hustler bothering tourists in Times Square.
Paying airlines and hotels a standard rate gives freedom and integrity. It’s a bit cheeky to accept a $5000 plane ticket and then talk endless crap about it. But if you use points, or upgrade to it -you have full autonomy. You can see the experience through a true customers eyes. At this point in our business, just about everything that’s made is spent on travel. We could maybe even have a real house if we didn’t, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. But hey – if you want to ask, go for it. The worst they can say is no, most of the time.