This blog was originally published in Hotel Online.
Influencer marketing can be a valuable means of reaching new audiences, but not every influencer will be a right fit for your property. If you’re going to go through the effort of hosting an influencer (and often a plus one or family) on the property, you should be confident they will showcase your hotel or resort in the best possible light. Here are a few guidelines to help you ramp up your hosting game.
For starters, if you want to attract influencers, it’s essential to make it a high-touch experience at the outset. Have a designated place for influencers to request a stay at your property. We recommend a dedicated email and appointing a staff member to handle inbound requests to streamline the hosting process.
Before you agree to host an influencer, it’s vital to ensure they are a good fit. We recommend establishing a vetting system that helps determine whether an influencer will be able to match the level of value you provide. Will the value of their post(s) offset the expense of hosting, which includes the rate you’re not getting from a paying customer, housekeeping, in-room amenities (food, snacks, bathrobe, etc.), on-site dining, and the time spent coordinating a visit? Obtaining a media kit from influencers is a great first step in determining whether they have the audience you are aiming to target. An agency can help you develop a checklist with associated values that can help automate the decision-making process.
Influencers expect to get contracts. ‘Influencing’ is a full-time job for most, and they understand the process. That said, if you are working with an influencer with a fantastic following on their Instagram channel don’t assume they will be posting in-feed. If you prefer a stationary post to a story, then put that in writing along with any preferred messaging and hashtags you’d like included. Depending on their follower count and engagement, you’ll often need to negotiate rates depending on whether you want an in-feed post, story, or combination. Provide a time frame for the influencer to share their post within, usually a specific number of weeks after their stay.
When drafting the agreement, be sure to include specifics about new services or hotel features you’d want the influencer to experience while on the property and, in turn, share with the public. Whether you’ve added a new treatment to your spa menu, a new cocktail to your lounge, or have a promo worth mentioning, you should relay that before signing on the dotted line. Think about which amenities are attractive to their followers. A fashion influencer would be great for promoting an on-site shop vs. a foodie influencer whose followers might enjoy the restaurant or lounge.
Length of Stay
The excitement that builds before the arrival of an influencer can quickly leave management crestfallen when hours go by with no posts in their feed. If you want an influencer to start posting the moment they walk in the door, you need to make sure they understand that before they begin their stay. Some influencers plan their feeds far in advance, so it’s worth confirming post dates in early negotiations. Another idea to consider is to include a “flashback” post 6-8 months after their stay – your relationship does not have to be one and done. Some influencers might offer better rates for long-term packages, so consider how you might maximize your ROI.
Another benefit to working with influencers is that you have more control over the visit outcome. While most members of the travel media are freelance, they are often held to the same standards as credentialed media and are not allowed to share work before publication. Influencers are a paid (or trade) relationship; you have every right to seek post-approval before they go live. Make sure this is included within your agreement.
There are several ways you can optimize the value of an influencer stay. First, ensure that your agreement allows the repurposing of content created by the influencer with appropriate credits in your own property’s social feed. Second, if you love the influencer’s content, you might work to secure additional images to use on your channels throughout the remainder of the year. We have all seen influencers strike pose after pose; you might consider using that as a means to get more content to use well after they have checked out! This can often help you save big on in-house photography costs, while diversifying your content.
Check-Out the Data
Most savvy influencers won’t be surprised by requests for a data report on the success of their posts. Be sure to add this as part of your agreement. It will help you better understand and fine-tune your vetting process for the future. It also might indicate that a return visit from the influencer may be worthwhile. Ongoing relationships with influencers come with the benefit of audience recognition, and can be especially valuable if your property constantly updates and adds services, amenities, and activities.
It’s not uncommon for influencers to clean up their feeds and remove posts after a while. While we can appreciate the need for a fresh start, we recommend adding a clause to your agreement that ensures your post will live in perpetuity. Back-scrolling is common for Instagram followers, so a 6-month-old post can still provide value.
While initially daunting, hosting influencers is easy to manage once you have set up a process. We find that influencers appreciate clarity in the relationship and are amiable to most requests. Check out our blog for more tips and tricks on working with influencers and members of the press.
Ready to get started with your customized influencer strategy? When we work together, your brand does more than show up. It shows up with a story, a purpose, a unique reason for being – and it makes an impact.