Is Influencer Marketing for Hotels Actually Worth it?

Get up to to speed on the Darby/White Moose showdown…

Over the past few weeks millions of people heard the term “influencer marketing” thanks to a bizarre online feud. Elle Darby, a 22-year old social media influencer from the UK, reached out to a hotel in Dublin that she clearly hadn’t researched. In her generically worded email to The White Moose Café and Charleville Lodge Hotel, Darby asked for a few nights’ free stay in exchange for featuring the hotel in her YouTube videos as well as Instagram stories and posts.

If she had taken a look around The White Moose’s Facebook page, or the owner’s blog, she might have discovered that their brand is not one that’s likely to be receptive of an email from a social media influencer. It’s less “the customer is always right” and more savage public takedowns of customer complaints.

The White Moose’s owner Paul Stenson responded to Darby on the hotel’s Facebook page, in a message that opened with:

“Thank you for your email looking for free accommodation in return for exposure. It takes a lot of balls to send an email like that, if not much self-respect and dignity.”

This being the internet, the argument quickly devolved into YouTube videos (hers), more sarcastic Facebook posts (his), hate-filled comment threads, and death threats. It also led to a huge boost to both their social media followings. If the saying that “no press is bad press” is true, then both have come out winners, as did the concept of “influencer marketing” itself.

For a more in depth article, it seems like you might enjoy our influencer case study: “Real Influencer Marketing Strategy for Hotels” 

Elle Darby White Moose Café and #Bloggergate
Elle Darby White Moose Café and #Bloggergate

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For those of us in the world of marketing, Darby’s request for a few nights’ free stay in exchange for some social media love seems pretty standard. But, for a lot of people out there who discovered the term through the story of Darby and The White Moose, it clearly sounds ridiculous. A lot of the negativity directed at Darby centered around the theme that she is lazy, entitled, and asking for something in exchange for nothing (although with much more colorful language).

So, in light of what has been unfortunately dubbed “BloggerGate”, we’re taking a moment to ask:

“Is influencer marketing for hotels ridiculous, or does it offer real value to hotels?”

Happy Couple at 7132 Hotel Lifestyle Photography by Global Image Creation

The Verdict

92% found influencer marketing to be effective

Linqia surveyed 181 marketers across a number of industries for a recent report, The State of Influencer Marketing 2018. Of the respondents that had used influencer marketing, 92% found it to be effective. It’s a small sample size, and respondents used different metrics to measure their own success, but we’re calling this point one for the influencers.

Every $1 spent returns $2.25 in value

RhythmOne’s 2016 Influencer Benchmarks Report found that every $1 spent on influencer marketing in the travel and tourism industry in 2016 returned an Earned Media Value (EMV) of $2.25. While this figure is much lower than the average EMV across all industries of $11.69, it does still show a positive return on investment.



For Every $1 Spent

Hospitality power houses are sold on influencer marketing

Some of the most notable names in travel and tourism are sold on the concept, including Starwood, Marriott, Hilton, and Ritz-Carlton. David Beebe, former Vice President of Global Creative and Content Marketing at Marriott International, has even said, “Influencer Marketing is here to stay and it should play a central role in your strategy to win the hearts, minds, and wallets of consumers.”

    • Starwood
    • Marriott
    • Ritz-Carlton
    • Hilton

“Influencer Marketing is here to stay and it should play a central role in your strategy to win the hearts, minds, and wallets of consumers.”

Based on the above figures and our own experiences we’re calling it a win for influencer marketing in general.

A word of advice for influencers

In David Beebe’s opinion, “Influencers who just ask for free things will not be around much longer if they don’t start acting and operating like a real business.” Beebe’s take on the Darby/White Moose situation is essentially that if “social media influencer” is Darby’s job, then based on this email it might not be one she’s good at. We’re inclined to agree with Beebe.

“Influencers who just ask for free things will not be around much longer if they don’t start acting and operating like a real business.”

For Stenson, the White Moose’s owner, there was clearly much more value in publicly and spectacularly rejecting Darby’s offer than there was in accepting it. While Darby couldn’t have anticipated Stenson’s response, and is undeserving of the personal attacks the internet has heaped on her since her email, there’s definitely a lesson here in researching the hotels you’re reaching out to.

If you’re interested in find out more about the ins and outs of influencer marketing for hotels, we’re currently putting together a case study on an influencer vetting strategy we put together for a client. If you’re a hotel marketer or social media personality seeking to dance the influencer tango, we’re hoping our experiences will provide you with a few insights into the steps involved. Sign up to our newsletter to get the case study when it’s released later this month released, and to discover how the conversation should go.

Now let’s talk about the powerful group of influencers that you may be overlooking in your marketing. Read the article here. 

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