I was recently enlightened to a new term, which those of you who frequent social media will be well aware of – The Influencer.
So, after emerging from my social media hole in the ground and rubbing the sand from my eyes, I consulted the oracle (now known as Google) to find out more. An Influencer it turns out is “a new type of independent third-party endorser who shapes audience attitudes through blogs, tweets and the use of other social media”.
With this newfound knowledge I quickly came across an article about Influencers in the hotel industry.
Apparently, Influencers expect hoteliers to provide free rooms and meals in order to receive positive endorsement from said Influencers & get somewhat narky if the hotelier refuses – as did the hotelier in this case (see “Hotel Calls Out Influencer for Asking for Free Stay“).
My immediate reaction was one of disappointment.
Why on earth didn’t I think of that! A 21st century freeloading concept that could have saved me heaps of hard-earned money!
More seriously, there are mixed opinions about the value of Influencers in the hospitality industry and in particular in hotels.
Many see little value in the use of Influencers.
- How do you measure the impact of an Influencer and what it the dollar value to the business of such an endorsement?
- What is the value of an endorsement when it is common knowledge that it is almost certainly tainted by the giving of free stays, meals or sometimes payment?
- How can you measure if the style and level of sophistication of followers of any Influencer matches the product they try to sell, whether hotels or other products?
I can’t imagine that a bikini clad, suntanned young woman or heavily tattooed guy on Instagram could persuade some middle-aged couple to stay at a particular property, but I might be wrong.
I realise that social media Influencers are generally geared towards a younger demographic, who seemingly, are more easily swayed to buy trendy clothes or beauty products, but does this work for hotel stays?
This really sounds like the age-old argument between Operations and the PR department, just updated to the modern era!
I think the issue here really is when a hotelier says no, is he blackmailed and made fun of just because he didn’t agree to give free rooms?
If your hotel marketing strategist/PR department do see some value in working with Influencers, make sure they do their homework.
- Only associate with Influencers who are credible and are able to demonstrate the value of their contribution to your product and brand.
- Beware of justifications purely based on followers as they are easy and cheap to buy
- Check the quality and frequency of their content and the relevance to your product.
- Measure the results, relative to the costs.
- If you choose not to work with a particular Influencer, politely decline and move on. Don’t get into a fight like this hotelier (see “Angry Hotel Owner’s Response Refusing Influencer Free Accommodation Goes Viral“)
If all else fails, try setting yourself up as an Influencer like this German Couple who asked their followers to pay for their road trip (“Instagram couple beg the internet for $16k to fund lavish trip“) – now this really is an idea I would support.
About the author
Karl Faux is a veteran Hotelier and Managing Partner with Elite Search – a leading hospitality recruitment firm.
For more information about Karl and Elite Search visit http://www.elitesearch.com.au and The Elite Hotelier http://www.elitehotelier.net