So you’re a (travel) blogger or influencer and you want to start approaching hotels for collaboration opportunities, and even get your stay complimentary? What if I told you it’s possible to do it even when you have less than 5k followers on Instagram?
I never thought it was possible until I managed to land 2 complimentary nights at a gorgeous hotel at only 1560 followers!
I’m sharing my secret tips and a bonus email template in this blog post on how you can land hotel collaborations whether you have 2k followers (like I did) or if you have 100k! This post is one of my more lengthy ones (too much important information on this topic haha) but nonetheless, let’s get started!
How did you land a collaboration with a hotel with 1560 followers?!
Last October, I was at 1560 followers and I had the amazing opportunity to collaborate with a beyond gorgeous, charming boutique hotel in New England and they offered me 2 nights complimentary! I just remember seeing that email for the first time and my heart was pounding of joy. First I thought, “what? how? I have 1560 followers…this isn’t possible!” but quickly remembered that I totally deserve it, given my hard work already established on my blog and Instagram (despite the number of followers and pageviews) and the hard work I will continue to provide for them. This moment has to be one of my most exciting moments in my newly pursued career by far, and definitely a trip I will never forget!
So yes: it is 100% possible to get a night (or 2!) complimentary at a hotel with less than 5k followers! It happened to me, and it can happen to you. Since you’ve come across this blog post, I assume collaborating with a hotel during your travels is a goal of yours! With the right confidence, content, and approach, you will be collabing with hotels and even getting complimentary stays in no time! Keep reading on to find out how I did it and you can, too.
Understanding What A Blogger-Hotel Collaboration Actually Is
Before we move into the tutorial and tips, it’s important to first understand what a blogger-hotel collaboration or partnership is actually about. I could market this blog post as “how to get a hotel stay for free” but that wouldn’t be accurate. There’s so much more involved than the surface. The ‘freebie night’ at a hotel isn’t a giveaway, but instead, a form of compensation for freelance work.
It’s typical to think that anybody with less than 5k followers can’t collaborate with hotels, but I am here to tell you that it’s just a myth! Numbers don’t mean a thing, honestly. It’s about what you could offer the hotel, despite not having a big following or lots of page views. In addition, there’s a stigma that travel bloggers are just looking to get a free vacation (and unfortunately, there’s some travel bloggers out there who do contribute to this stigma).
With those myths and stigmas, if you don’t have anything to offer or any hard work already established, your chances of a hotel replying back to your emails are slim. BUT if you have some extra bullets you can offer and you have a nice-looking platform to prove it, our next step in landing a collaboration is to flaunt it!
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Finally, we’ll get to the step-by-step on how to approach hotels via email.
1. Think of what types of hotels you should be targeting.
If you don’t have a huge following or huge amount of pageviews, then you can’t expect to be staying in the penthouse suite of a Sofitel. There’s so many other gorgeous boutique hotels, B&B’s, and maybe even guest homes in every travel destination out there. THOSE should be your target. It helps to match your aesthetic and style with the hotel. If you have a vintage, dainty vibe on your platforms, then maybe a charming, historic B&B would be your ideal target hotel. Another thought to consider is if that that hotel does frequent blogger collaborations or not.
2. Gather a list of hotels to approach.
Search, search, search! Gather a list of hotels to approach, their email addresses, and the name of the manager or owner if you can. I gathered roughly about 30 hotels in my first reach out, with 2 bites back, and one of them was the perfect fit. I would recommend to gather a list of 30 to start, and if there’s no bites, create another list of 30 more. More emails = more chances of an opportunity.
3. Time to craft the email!
If you did find the name of the manager, owner, or an influencer/blogger contact for that hotel, use it and greet them by the first name in the email! This starts off your email personal, specific, and professional. Furthermore, if they have their own email address separate from the general hotel inquiries, send it to that email address! You want be as easy and direct as possible.
Decide on a catchy, attractive subject line to grab their attention! This is business, but it doesn’t have to be so serious with your typical ‘Collaboration Inquiry’ subject line. Mix it up a little and have fun. Keep it concise and professional. You can see what I put in for my subject in the freebie email template below!
Now it’s time to craft a personal, professional, and brief email pitch! Take note of those three words: personal, professional, and brief. If you keep it sounding like you just copied and paste your pitch, you probably won’t get any interest returned. Be friendly, mention their name, mention their hotel name, etc. With that, don’t be overly personal because it won’t be precieved as professional. Triple check your email pitch for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Lastly, keep it brief and simple. No need to add a paragraph about your blog or a bio, as that information should be in your media kit. This is what should be included in the body of your email:
- Your first and last name
- Introduce yourself as an blogger or influencer
- Your platform(s) URLs (hyperlink the text, don’t type out the actual URL)
- Why you’re reaching out
- When and where you are traveling
- Who’s your target audience
- What you can offer (extra incentives are a huge plus)
- A friendly closure, thank you, and a link to your media kit
But I don’t have a following yet, so what can I offer?
This is the time to turn your negatives into positives and really shine! Maybe you don’t have a lot of followers, but instead, you have a smaller, fully engaged community that would likely travel to that destination. You can offer social media exposure, a blog post review, photography, etc. Take note of advantages you have against most bloggers. If you have a drone, offer to give them drone shots of their hotel!
4. Media kit or no media kit?
There’s contrasting opinions now on whether to include a media kit in your outreach emails or not. For hotel collaborations, I personally think a media kit is necessary in your email. But don’t just send out okay-looking media kits. Make them professional and beautiful AF to really grab their attention! If design isn’t your knack, hire a designer to do one for you.
You can either attach the media kit as a PDF to your email or send it as a Google Drive link.
You’ve sent the emails. Now what?
- Be prepared that almost more than half of them won’t reply back. But know that that’s okay and it’s completely normal!
- Don’t forget the power of the follow up email. If you take my courses or subscribe to my blog, you know that I’m a huge believe in the power of follow up emails! I think they are even more impactful than the original email. It’s basically a repeat of the same email, tweaked a bit, with the attention-grabbing, reply-compelling introductory line of “I didn’t hear a response from you from my previous email so I’m just following up!”
- Once you do get a hotel that’s interested in working with you, make everything extremely clear. With number of hotel stays, dates, and services, it’s easy to run into discrepancies so clarity is very important!
And there you have it: how to get a complimentary stay as a blogger/influencer even when you have less than 5k followers!
I figured a simple copy-and-paste would be the easiest access for you can just paste right into your emails! Happy emailing!