After attending a number of travel blogger meetups and conferences, I realised while there was a set of bloggers who have ‘been there, done that’, there was a majority of new, young bloggers looking to break into the travel industry and were learning it all for the first time. There is so much to learn about, from SEO and link building, to designing the site and getting their brand on point. I therefore wanted to help guide other bloggers on the best way to reach out to hotels in order to get a complimentary stay.
If you know of a contact name, then this is ideal, otherwise you can just open with ‘good morning/afternoon’.
Who Are You?
The operation manager, or whoever is dealing with your request, knows nothing about you, so you quickly need to explain who you are, what the blog is about and how successful it is.
What Do You Want?
You need to be specific and outline exactly what you are after. It could be that you’re on holiday in Belgium in October and you’re looking for a 2 night stay. A hotel will often be more than happy to offer you a 1-3 night stay, however if you ask for a whole week then you may be disappointed. If you would ideally like a week, then you could either stay in multiple hotels throughout your stay, try your luck or potentially deal with a ‘media rate’ which is heavily reduced, such as 50% off.
What Do They Gain?
It is important to set in stone exactly what you are offering them in return for the free stay, there should be no question marks at the end. It could be a blog post about the hotel and your stay there, which will also be posted on your social channels. You could then further offer a YouTube video review if you wish. What you offer is all down to your channels, what your focus is on and how it can be beneficial for both parties. For example, I wouldn’t lead with ‘plenty of shares on Instagram’ if you have a new account with not too many followers.
I tend to follow this up with some further evidence of the success of the blog, such as how many visitors we get per month, our key demographics, as well as some of the newspapers and publications we have been featured in over the past 12 months.
You don’t necessarily require a media kit when dealing with hotels, this is more often required when dealing with PR’s, however it is useful to have one in place, so you can quickly detail all of your key stats. This should be attached as a PDF or a file which is easy to open and is presentable (so not in Word).
Finding Contact Details
You have to understand that not every hotel you contact will say yes. Not necessarily because your site isn’t good enough, there are multiple reasons. It could be that you have gone through to the wrong person, or the email went to the junk folder, or they don’t have a marketing budget in place, or the person reading doesn’t understand the value of what you’re offering.
For this reason, you need to understand it is a game of numbers, you need to reach out to a whole list of hotels in order to find the right one for you.
I’d recommend looking either through Google, Tripadvisor or Booking and then making a list of the hotels you are interested in. From that point, you need to head to the hotels website and find a contact email address. You may sometimes find their PR or marketing email address, which is ideal as that means it will go through to someone who is used to handling blogger review stays.
This is one extra point I want to make if you have done this before and you are looking to do it again. We have stayed in a number of hotels and have written in-depth guides on the accommodation, reviewing every aspect. The result of this has been a very high ranking on Google, which is beneficial for both parties. For myself, it means a high level of quality traffic coming to the site. For the hotel, they have people looking up reviews of the hotel and end up on a great article endorsing their facilities and venue.
If you can demonstrate this to the hotel, it should help to convince them. One example I will give is of the Ammatara Pura Pool Villas Review I wrote a couple of years ago. Both the page and our YouTube video rank well on Google under review based terms for the hotel. We have received thousands of visitors to the page and answered hundreds of questions from potential customers. This was all based on a single stay for four nights. We had an amazing time and I’m more than happy to endorse it, being the best venue I have ever stayed in.