Half a billion people scroll through Instagram daily. And to some of those peoples’ dismay and others’ envy, a small percentage of Instagrammers have made a career out of it. They are a select class of mostly millennial model-types whose interesting lives and devoted followers have made them attractive allies for exposure of hungry brands.
Anyone with a social media account can claim to be an influencer, but only the cream of the crop get the royal treatment. Invitations to swanky parties, hefty sums of money and all-inclusive stays at luxury hotels have all been forked over in exchange for exposure on the 'gram. But when there’s smoke, there’s fire. And when people scroll past their umpteenth #Ad pic of a sandy beach or stunning balcony view, a few of them think: That should be me.
As a consequence of this modern marketing strategy, droves of attempted influencers have risen from the woodwork. Accounts with nary a follower and barren comment fields have been bombarding luxury hotels, both local and abroad, with requests for free rooms and services.
“Yes, we get them on a daily basis,” says Joselyn Vides, corporate manager of social media at Hotel ZaZa, adding that the hotel doesn’t normally engage influencers but had in recent months.
Clint Young, guest services manager at the Belmont Hotel Dallas, says Belmont also receives regular requests from dubious Instagram mavens.
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“Oftentimes they forget to change the specifics in their emails, and I receive emails that have obviously been drafted to other hotels and have pasted my info in,” he says. “Frankly, we take very few of them seriously. We still charge a rate, never trading for exposure.”
While this nuisance may fill up hotels' spam folders across DFW, the general idea of leveraging the impact of influencers has proved sound in the industry. Tanner Culbertson, senior account executive at MCA Public Relations, says partnerships with notable influencers, leveraged properly, typically have a successful return on investment for hotel brands. Her company has worked with The Statler Dallas, The Sheraton Hotel Dallas and Hotel Lumen, among other local establishments.
“These days, anyone can consider themselves an influencer, so it’s important that the social media figure proves themselves as legitimate before we can consider a collaboration,” Culbertson says. “These partnerships do work if the goal is to increase awareness on the digital space, so long as the expectations on both ends are discussed and met.”
Culbertson says clear expectations and research are keys to ensuring a successful partnership. Prospective influencers must show a proven track record, go through a rigorous vetting process, and adhere to MCA’s strict guidelines and criteria to be considered for one of its clients.