If you work in marketing, particularly in the travel sector, it will have been almost impossible to have missed the commotion surrounding Elle Darby and hotel owner Paul Stenson. It seems like the world and his wife have opinions on the pair’s communication, but since we work closely with hotels to deliver performance-led influencer campaigns, we felt it was time for us to wade into the fray.
So, what went down?
In case you’ve missed all the excitement, here’s what happened: popular YouTuber Elle Darby wanted to book a romantic weekend away with her boyfriend to Dublin. She decided to ask a well-known hotel in the area whether she would be able to stay at the hotel free of charge, in exchange for coverage on her YouTube channel and Social Media accounts. This prompted an irate Paul Stenson, owner of the hotel, to post a disdainful reply publicly on his Facebook page.
Although her identity was obscured in Stenson’s post, Darby responded with a video on her channel where she broke down, explaining she was embarrassed and hurt by the situation. This video has gained nearly 2 million views since it was posted and caused quite an uproar. Stenson found Darby’s fans and fellow influencers alike, expressing their distaste for his actions. He has since created several more posts on his Facebook wall, the most dramatic of which banned all bloggers from staying at his hotel.
However, this wasn’t the end of the debacle. Stenson has now calculated the total value that this back and forth has created in publicity, which he has estimated at a reach of around 450 million and generating close to £3 million in equivalent advertising spend. He used this approximation to create an invoice for Darby to which he added VAT, making the total around £4.5 million. A snarky note adds “mentions in videos will not qualify as payment.”
What do we think?
Our Senior Digital PR Executive, Katherine Terao, works very closely with influencers– specifically on travel brands – and says it is not uncommon to receive emails asking for free stays or freebies:
“Getting freebies it is at the heart of influencer marketing and depending on the type of collaboration, it has proved to have extremely positive impacts on not only brand awareness but also website traffic.
Bloggers need brands to create interesting content but equally, brands need bloggers to outreach their audience. If truth be told, I think brands need bloggers even more! In a world where few companies master the art of engaging with their target audience on social media platforms, including influencers in any digital marketing strategy can be, with the right approach, very beneficial. It is our job as digital marketers to be wise enough to choose the right strategy when collaborating with influencers to make sure that brands get the right results.”
Mai Vazquez, also Senior Digital PR Executive at 4Ps, adds: “Influencer marketing is business and as in any other business, projects get approved and rejected; that’s just the nature of any business relationship. Bloggers also reject freebies from brands and so this happens the other way around too.”
Can complimentary stays in hotels work?
Of course they can! This isn’t anything new, as Kimi Goffe, Senior Editorial Manager at 4Ps, pointed out when we discussed the fiasco internally: “it’s similar to press trips, where journalists are offered free holidays in exchange for coverage in newspapers and magazines and spa. These beneficial reciprocal relationships have worked well for ages, so why should it be any different with influencers and the engaged communities that they have fostered?”
It’s worth making sure that the blogger or influencer in question is a good fit for your brand as well. You’re probably going to see better returns from collaborating with an influencer whose audience aligns closely with yours. With bloggers ranging across the spectrum and in every single conceivable niche, there’s sure to be the collaboration for you.
In short, we believe that there is great value to collaborations between bloggers and other influencers for most brands, but particularly in the travel sector. However, they work best when they are carefully planned and executed with respect from both sides.
Don’t suffer from poor relationships with influencers by hiring just another SEO agency. To discuss how 4Ps approaches digital PR and influencer marketing with both brands and end users front and centre, give us a call on +44 (0)207 607 5650 for a no-obligation coffee and chat about data, marketing and technology across all inbound channels. What could a 4Ps content marketing strategy do for you?