Getting a Complimentary Hotel Stay as an Instagram Influencer

Last updated on: September 20, 2019
about 10 minutes

Dreaming of that few night say at 5 start resort in Maledives? Or perhaps want luxury suite experience in one of the most prestigous hotels in Singapore?

It has become a norm for most influential bloggers to enjoy various perks as a result of their established following.

One of the ways they do this is using Instagram influencer marketing to negotiate complimentary stays with hotels in return for reviews. This is a win-win game for both parties. The hotel doesn’t need to pay much for advertisements. They just need to invite bloggers to review their hotels. For bloggers, they get to enjoy travels for free while working.

Exciting isn’t it?

One thing you must know is that to achieve this may not be so easy though. Nevertheless, there are factors to be considered when it comes to travel blogging. Being an Instagram influencer takes wit and charm to be able to attract sponsors. This post will help you achieve these as you journey towards this career.

But first, let’s go over the things you should avoid.

What not to do

If we must discuss how to be successful in this field, it is crucial to know the “What Not to Do” factors to enable you to build long-lasting relationships with your partner hotels. These tips were derived from the actual blunders of some bloggers hence, you can learn from these.

Don’t send random requests to any hotel

Don’t request for collaboration just for the sake of having a free stay. For example, you may decide to stay in New York and then, the idea of having a collaboration with one of the top New York hotels may sound appealing to you.

Due to this, you proceed to send random requests to these hotels. This is the wrong approach because when approaching these hotels, you need to plan carefully.

Don’t use a generic template when sending requests

Another factor to note is that you must at all costs avoid using generic templates. Imagine you’re applying for a job, there’s a possibility that you’re less likely to use a generic template. Hence, you must avoid the use of generic templates. Your email content should be customized based on your research and what you can offer.

Don’t be self-entitled

Even if you may be an established and known Instagram influencer, being demanding is a turnoff. Think of it as job hunting, not the other way around.

Don’t suggest positive reviews

You don’t know whether you will like the place, the service and the atmosphere so it would not be unethical to suggest positive reviews as a part of negotiation. What if you won’t enjoy your stay? Will you lie? For that reason, keep that positive review as a bonus only if you genuinely think it’s deserved.

It’s not always what you say, it’s how you deliver it. So, if the hotel deserves a 2 star only then, say it. As an influencer, you have a huge responsibility towards your followers. You need to ensure that they get only the truth from you. This will help increase their level of trust in you.

Don’t give false promises

It is important to be trustworthy. Ensure you keep to your words as stated in your contract. If you say you will review them within 10 days, then do it.

Don’t demand a long stay

We think 2-3 nights is enough to have a good idea about the place and the service - asking for more than that is probably to leave a bad impression. If you want to stay longer - offer to pay for the rest of the nights: this little gesture will be a sign of appreciacion for recieved hospitality.

Here are few tips how you can increase the chances of getting that dream night:

How to get a complimentary stay as an Instagram influencer

Now that we have discussed the “what not to do” aspect, let’s now begin to unravel the steps on how to get the positive answers you need for every email you will send.


A great Instagram influencer is also a great planner. This is the most crucial part. You need to spend time doing your research so that you can be successful in the succeeding steps. Note that the inability to plan translates to 100% failure. Hence, the following should be in your research list: * Trending places and sites to visit to enable you to provide better and more attractive reviews for your audience. * Apart from researching the internet, you can do crowdsourcing on hotels your followers love. If you’re stuck, you can also ask other influencers for hotels who accept reviews from various bloggers. * Most suitable dates to travel. For example, during summer, you might want to visit a hotel on the beachfront. This will enable you to create an appropriate review. * Plan how many hotels you will collaborate with. That’s why it is mentioned in the “what not to do” section to avoid sending random requests. What if they all say yes? Make sure you forecast based on your capacity.

How to send your request

Craft your email “by hand”. Don’t use templates. Customize it based on the hotel you’re reach out to. Keep the tonne formal, sweet and to the point.

Another factor to note is that having complete information is necessary. For example, a planned travel date is crucial because it gives the hotel the necessary time it needs to prepare. Note that months before the planned travel, you should begin sending your request to the hotels that match your criteria. Your complete portfolio should also be included so that they won’t have a hard time researching about you. Include all social media links you may have.

Establish mastery in your craft. Avoid sounding arrogant but your email should make the hotel feel that you’re “significant” in the industry. It is important to craft your email in such a way that they’d find it hard to say “no” to your request. In a way, make them feel that they are dealing with an A-rated Instagram influencer.

You can also include how you intend to do your review so that they know that you are serious. Include the steps. explain them your process and be transparent.

Do the homework for them and include links to your social media profiles and analytics - this will save them a lot of time, they would otherwise need to spend researching you online.

Remember, ultimately, you are not there for a vacation stay - you are there to attract them more customers. Whatever you do, keep that in mind.

How to create a contract

While most of these collaborations can be done via email confirmation, it adds a professional touch to craft a contract.

Ask the hotel if they will make it for you. If not, offer to do it. Encourage them to enter a contract so that both parties will be protected.

Include the following in your contract: * Date * Number of days you will stay * Facilities of the Hotel to Review (For some, there is just one facility that they want to hype or promote) * Do’s and Don’ts (Some hotels may not allow you to take photos of everything you see, and you need to respect that) * Perks Included (You need to itemize all the agreed perks to be your reference when you get there) * Lastly, the contract should be duly signed by the authorized representative. Don’t settle for just a stamped contract. The name, designation, and contact details of your contact person should be indicated.

How to review the hotel

  • Always be polite and professional. Look for your assigned contact person and show the person the signed contract. Most times, you do not need to do this as the hotel already knows you’re arriving. However, have it ready just in case.
  • Converse with them before you start working. If possible, discuss the contract again. There might be additional requests from the hotel if it’s not too much to ask from you, grant them. This allows them to build a good relationship with you. This may also help you with further recommendations.
  • Make sure you have your checklist, so you won’t miss anything when doing your review. Apart from thinking that it’s a complimentary stay, it is a job that you need to accomplish.
  • Ask questions. When you see something that is worth a poor rating, ask further questions. Ask professionally so that it doesn’t appear that they are justifying something poor (service or facility).

Do not just make your review and think you’re done. Instead, make sure you create an “experience.” Hence, don’t be too mechanical in reviewing. Be candid and personal and take note of all things. When doing this think of your followers who are anticipating your experience in the hotel and not just your plain reviews. Another thing to note is that just because you’re staying there for free, you do not owe them a positive content. Look at it as a two-sided job where your main responsibility is to serve your followers. However, at some point, it is okay to over-deliver.

Here’s a bonus point:

When you see something that is worth a poor rating, talk to the hotel. Honestly, inform them of your observation. If you do this, they may ask you what they can do to make it better. This is something you can insert in your review. This will also create an impression that your review is realistic and not scripted.

Writing your experience

The first thing to write is to let your readers understand the selling pitch or the atmosphere the hotel intends to convey.

Don’t forget the finest shots. Your followers are visual. Most won’t have the time to read whatever you may have written. So, your photos should tell a story and summarize your whole experience.

Don’t forget to loop them on your posts. Always include their contact details and of course follow them on social media.

Do not create a one-time, big-time review. Be artistic by creating series of reviews or creating a story that will make your followers anticipate your next post about that hotel. Create an atmosphere that thrills the excitement of your followers. This should be the core of everything.

Pitch in their partner hotels if possible. Who knows, your next destination is one of them!

It’s not about you, it’s about them

Conclusively, always think about doing your job seamlessly. Your complimentary stay is part of the job. It should not be the center of everything.

Also, don’t forget the welfare of your followers. After all the travel, the stay, the experience, and the perks, always go back to the real world. This could be informing, educating, and entertaining your social media followers. This enables you to ensure that everybody will be a winner at the end of everything.

What to do after the successfull collaboration

Offer More

Most of the influencers will offer to post an Instagram post, and perhaps, make few Instagram stories. Stand out of the crowd. Offer them more - an article on your blog, a YouTube video or even a mention during an interview. This shows them you really care and willing to go extra mile.

Give them tips what they could improve

Work out long-term partnership

See how other Influencers are doing it

Are you a hotel owner or marketing representative and looking for a right influencer for a hotel promotion? Check out the tips we wrote here how to negotiate the deal. [link to another article]



Karen is senior technical writer and copywriter here at GrowFollowing. She drinks 3 lattes a day and enjoys early morning run with her dog.

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