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The chances are that if you own a travel blog, you don’t just want to be blogging about the Maldives; you’ll want to be taking a vacation there too. But Kim Kardashian-style resorts don’t come cheap. So how can you take advantage of your travel blog to live the life of a reality TV star turned global entrepreneur? The answer isn’t to marry Kanye West and start a makeup line — that’s already been done — no, you need to start working with luxury resorts, and fast.
Believe it or not, plenty of bloggers get paid to go on all-expenses-paid trips.
Bloggers often refer to paid travel trips as PR trips, press trips or sponsored trips. This is because going on a vacation that’s paid for by a hotel is just that — a transactional exchange where you promote a brand.
Some bloggers have become such professionals at marketing luxury resorts and hotels that they now stay in five-star hotels for a living. Take travel and lifestyle blogger Rhiannon Taylor, who writes for her blog In Bed With while creating content for unique boutique hotels.
If you want to get to this professional level of relaxing in plush hotels for a living, this blog post is focused on providing some action points to help you get there. But beware, it’s also frank and full of hard-faced facts, as nobody ever said it would be easy to lounge around in fresh sheets all day.
It’s Simple — Get Your S*** Together
There’s no other way to put it, other than that if you don’t sell yourself as the ideal influencer, you’ll have no chance of scoring a deluxe hotel room.
Luxury resorts are looking for legitimate marketers and bloggers with influence, knowledge, and professionalism. Although being a travel influencer isn’t all about the numbers — in that you don’t need 10,000 followers to earn respect — you will need more than a few shoddy Instagram pictures to be considered. As the travel blog The Travel Leaf advises, you’ll need to make a killer pitch to get luxury resorts interested. This is the equivalent of laying your cards on the table, and it’s not always pretty. The Travel Leaf estimates that out of ten hotel pitches, only six will ultimately lead to sweet success — bagging a free hotel room for the night.
Before you start writing a proposal straight out of business school, there are four key things you’ll need first:
- Buy a Virtual Phone Number: Being a travel blogger is a fairly cheap business to run, but there are some travel business essentials that you’ll need. This includes a virtual landline number. Why? Well, this gives you the ability to use a professional business number that other businesses will view as a credible, legitimate contact source. Bonus — your professional number can be routed to your cell phone, so you can always be available for that next big opportunity, wherever you are.
- Attract the Ideal Audience: Think about it. In traditional advertising, a business wouldn’t choose to advertise its product on a channel its target demographic is unlikely to be watching. For example, you’d never see beer advertised in between kids shows. Before you even think about pitching to a luxury hotel, you need to make sure your existing content is angled at the same audience.
- Practice Your Elevator Pitch: You’ll need to be able to sum up your proposition — and quickly. This means studying your personal brand, your best assets, and your blog’s statistics. Similar to the above point, knowing your audience and being able to position your audience in a sales pitch (or in this case, a hotel pitch) is key.
- Have Traffic Information at Your Fingertips: If you don’t already know how to track your website’s analytics, you’d better find out. Using Google Analytics, you can see traffic information, including where your visitors are coming from and how long they’re staying on your website. These things matter to luxury resort owners — business people value numbers, so if you’re able to speak their language, you’ve already won half of the battle.
Prioritize Things That Will Add Value
You want to stay in a hotel for free and luxury resorts want to make sales. To get a glimpse of the good life, you’ll need to offer more than the average blogger.
Try creating bullet points of skills or assets that you have to offer and make sure to focus on fleshing these out in your communications. That being said, not all assets are born equal — below are a few things that hotel brands consider to be the most important.
- Strong Social Pages: You might create an official agreement with a resort to write up a blog about your experience. While this is the key deliverable, it doesn’t hurt to have strong social media profiles where you’ll inevitably share the blog post (to gain more traffic). You might also post a picture on your Instagram as a bonus for the hotel brand. This could be the deciding factor between yourself and another competing blogger. Besides, many of the metrics brands consider to be correlated with a Return on Investment (ROI) relate to social media — these include mentions, impressions, and geolocations.
- Quality Photography: Nobody wants to pay a travel blogger (or put them up for free) to receive blurry or unflattering images. Being a great travel writer isn’t the only skill that you’ll need to have to make waves in the travel industry. Images matter too. As such, you should practice taking interior pictures and get used to working in different environments with changing light and crazy backdrops, as every hotel is different.
- Established Personal Brands: Something that goes hand in hand with consistent engagement is having an established personal brand. This means that your followers don’t only subscribe to you because their interests match up with the subject of your content but also because they enjoy your personality and keep coming back to your website. If you’ve ever caught yourself watching Jack Black’s YouTube channel — even though you’re not into gaming — you’ll understand what we mean.
- Recognition within a Travel Niche: Luxury resorts are generally interested in specific bloggers over generic ones and will tend to hire influencers within their niche. By doing this, luxury resorts and hotels can be sure that they’re working with bloggers whose content will resonate with their demographic. Rather than positioning yourself as a general “travel blogger” — of which there are many floating about on the internet — focus on dominating content in a particular arena, like solo travel.
Write Pitches That Aren’t Easily Ignored
Before reading this article, your pitch to a luxury resort might have sounded something like this:
|Example of a bad blogger pitch:
Hi (X) resort,
I’m a travel blogger who would love to stay at your resort. I have a blog where I write about my travel experiences, called www.mytravel.com.
I’ll be in the Maldives in June and wondered if you would consider a partnership deal?
All the best,
(Generic Travel Blogger)
What’s wrong with this travel pitch? Well, there are a few things:
- The pitch was from a generic travel blogger and highlighted no unique selling point. The only source of information was a link to an equally generic blog website.
- While the pitch addressed the luxury resort in the opening line, it otherwise ignored the luxury resort’s existence. Much of the pitch was focused on satisfying the travel blogger’s desire to stay at a luxury resort in the Maldives — not exactly a strong start for an equal partnership.
- The travel blogger signed off without using an email signature or providing relevant contact information. While replying directly to an email is fine, it’s always best to give the recipient options so that they can choose their preferred method. They might prefer to vet you via a phone call, they might be in a rush or they may even have poor WiFi in the tropics.
Hopefully, you won’t resort to writing a blogger pitch like this (pun intended). Instead, we’d hope that you would send off an opening email such as this one:
|Example of a good blogger pitch:
Hello (Example Staff Name),
After seeing your latest campaign about sustainable travel, I thought it might be a good idea to introduce myself. I’m really enjoying the direction of the campaign so far and the environmental initiatives that have been introduced.
I’m the travel blogger behind www.mytravel.com — a website focused on raising awareness about sustainable travel. In the past, I’ve worked with (X) resorts on similar campaigns to help spread the word to my environmental audience of over (XXXX) visitors.
In fact, my blog has even won the (X) award for sustainable travel, as I’ve covered a number of environmental topics in over (X) countries.
If you need help with professional photography or gaining traction on social media, or if you would like to connect with an established influencer in the sustainable travel niche, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
All the best,
(Pro travel blogger)
[Insert email signature here with clickable social buttons and a business prefix number]
Aside from hitting all of the action points we’ve outlined throughout this article, this pitch focuses on the luxury resort and the various benefits they’ll receive when working with you.
Before the blogger has even began to make a killer pitch, they’ve already potentially sealed the deal by finding an individual’s email address, rather than posting their proposal to a generic information address. Ideally, you’ll want to search for the marketing manager’s contact information, which can be found scouring platforms like LinkedIn or using a Chrome extension like Hunter, which finds email addresses publicly listed on the website you’re visiting. This is a real win, as it guarantees that your pitch will find a relevant decision maker and increases your chances of getting a positive reply.
What’s more, in the opening paragraph, the example blogger shows a genuine interest in the resort’s recent activity — not just its hotel room price tag.
This isn’t to say that as a blogger you need to lie about your motives — at some point, you’ll have to be upfront about wanting to stay in a hotel room for free. But this should only be introduced when discussing terms and conditions — the point when you’re actually making an agreement with the brand. Otherwise, you’ll come off as an amateur who’s not willing to do any work when their ultimate wish has been granted.