How To Get a Complimentary Hotel Stay as an Influencer

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Have you ever dreamed of staying in a luxurious hotel suite or oceanside resort without paying a dime? As an influencer, scoring free hotel stays is an incredible perk that allows you to create engaging content while being pampered on someone else‘s dime.

But getting hotels to comp your stay takes more than just asking nicely. You need a strategic plan to convince them that partnering with you will benefit their brand and bottom line.

As a social media marketing expert with over 10 years of experience helping influencers maximize their brand partnerships, I’ve seen firsthand what works when negotiating complimentary hotel stays.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you through exactly how to pitch yourself to hotels, agree on beneficial terms, deliver amazing promotional content, and turn one-time collaborations into ongoing relationships.

If you’re ready to start enjoying luxury travel without going broke, let’s get started! This is everything you need to know to start scoring awesome free hotel stays as an influencer.

Why Hotels Want to Work With Influencers

Influencers are a growing priority in most hotel marketing budgets these days. Hotels have realized the tremendous value that influencers bring in terms of:

  • Increased brand awareness: By partnering with relevant influencers who align with their target audience, hotels expand their reach and get their brand in front of many new potential customers. Even a single post can put the property on thousands of new people’s radars.

  • Credible social proof: User-generated content from influencers offers authentic social proof of the hotel experience. This content performs better than traditional ads and makes people more likely to book.

  • Engagement opportunities: Followers are more likely to like, comment on, and share influencer content about a hotel. This increases overall engagement and visibility for the brand.

  • Visual storytelling: Beautiful influencer photos and videos that showcase the hotel and local attractions inspire travelers and get them excited to visit.

  • Booking conversions: Promotional codes, special offers, and affiliate links included in influencer posts can directly drive new room bookings and revenue.

According to a study by Launchmetrics, 89% of hotels say influencer marketing should be an important part of their marketing strategy. When done right, these partnerships generate an impressive return on investment and boost a hotel’s bottom line.

As an influencer, you offer hotels a highly desirable marketing channel. But in order to convince them to comp your stay, you need to communicate the specific value you will provide if they partner with you.

How To Pick The Right Hotel Partners

The first step is identifying hotel properties that are likely to be open to collaborating with you. You want to look for hotels that:

  • Are a natural fit with your personal brand and content style
  • Align with your target audience demographic
  • Would benefit from expanded reach to your follower base

You’ll have the best success pitching hotels that match your aesthetic and regularly partner with influencers. For example:

  • Luxury and boutique hotels
  • Trendy big city hotels
  • Beach and tropical resorts
  • Hotels with photogenic food and beverage offerings
  • Family-friendly resorts and theme hotels

Look at influencers you follow with similar feeds and take note of the hotel brands they often partner with. Reach out to fellow influencers in your niche and ask who their favorite hotel partners are.

You can also search hashtags like #giftedstay and #inpartnershipwith on Instagram to discover hotels open to influencer collaborations.

Once you’ve identified properties that seem like a good match, the next step is researching each brand before reaching out.

Tips For Researching Partner Hotels

Before pitching a hotel, make sure you have a clear understanding of their brand identity, target audience, and marketing objectives. Take time to:

  • Explore their website to get a feel for their brand story and offerings
  • Follow their social media channels to understand their content style and audience
  • Read recent press articles mentioning the hotel or showcasing new expansions/renovations
  • Look at guest reviews on third party sites to identify their strengths and potential areas for improvement

This will allow you to tailor your pitch and show the hotel exactly how partnering with you can help them achieve their goals.

For example, if a resort is trying to promote their new luxury spa, you could propose capturing content of you enjoying spa treatments that highlights their new amenity. If a hotel just underwent a full renovation, you can pitch showcasing the updated design and decor through photos and videos.

Come prepared with insights into their brand, statistics on their target audience, and current hotel industry trends so they see you’ve done your homework.

How To Craft A Winning Pitch Email

Now comes the most important part – crafting a compelling pitch email that convinces the hotel to give you a complimentary stay.

There’s definitely an art to pitching yourself in a way that feels like a natural partnership, not just asking for free stuff.

Here are my tips for creating a pitch that helps you secure an influencer collaboration:

Personalize For Each Hotel

Generic outreach emails are easy for hotels to ignore. The key is personalizing your note to show you researched that specific brand and have ideas tailored to them.

Address them by name, reference recent news about them, and use their brand voice. This instantly makes you stand out from the mass emails they get.

Propose Ideas That Benefit Them

Don’t just ask what you can get – explain what you can provide. Share 2-3 original ideas for content that promotes their amenities, showcases renovations, or highlights experiences their ideal guests would love.

Come with suggestions tailored to their property and goals so they immediately understand the value.

Include Metrics and Past Examples

Back up why you‘d be a great partner with data on your audience size and engagement. Share specific metrics like your follower count, likes per post, video view count, etc.

Provide examples of successful brand collaborations where you helped other hotels or luxury brands boost their visibility and engagement. Proof is powerful.

Suggest Specific Deliverables

Rather than a vague offer to “feature your hotel on my Instagram,” propose a concrete campaign with metrics attached. For example:

  • 3 Instagram posts + 2 Instagram story packages (with at least 1 IG Live)
  • 1 Blog review post with links, photos, and backlinks
  • Inclusion in relevant YouTube videos and IGTV content for 3 months after stay

Quantifiable deliverables reassure the hotel that partnering with you will yield measurable results. They can see exactly what they’ll gain.

Outline Proposed Timeframe

Hotels plan marketing initiatives and partnerships months in advance. Giving them potential dates for your stay and proposed content promotion timeline shows you’re serious about collaborating.

Aim to pitch hotels 3-6 months before your preferred travel dates to increase the odds they’ll work with you.

Thank Them Upfront

It’s nice to end your pitch by thanking them for their time and consideration. Let them know you hope there’s an opportunity to work together, and that you look forward to hearing from them.

A gracious close leaves a positive final impression.

Securing the Best Possible Terms

If a hotel responds positively to your pitch, it’s time to lock down the collaboration details.

Aim high with your initial requests. Remember, a complimentary stay at a nice hotel can be worth thousands of dollars. You provide significant promotional value in return, so don’t be afraid to negotiate terms comparable to that value.

Here are the key points to cover:

Length of Stay: Request at least 2-3 nights, ideally over a weekend to maximize content opportunities. The longer you stay, the more you can feature their property.

Room Type: Ask for a luxury suite whenever possible. Hotels often have promotional budgets to comp lavish rooms that make for aspirational Instagram backdrops.

Additional Perks: Based on the property, consider requesting dining credits, spa treatments, private tours, early check-in/late checkout, transportation stipends, welcome gifts, or VIP amenities. Go for the gold!

Content Deliverables: Finalize the specific number of posts, stories, live videos, etc you will produce featuring their brand. Add extra value by offering long-form YouTube or blog content.

Usage Rights: Clarify if they require approval before you post and how they can repurpose the content you create. Make sure they agree to properly credit you.

Promotional Codes: Ask for a custom promo code or special offer for your audience that allows you to directly track bookings you drive.

Follow-Up Reporting: Offer to provide a post-trip results report showing engagement and reach. This shows you take the partnership seriously.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate, as long as you remain professional. Most hotels have separate marketing budgets for these partnerships. But even if you don’t get everything on your wish list, agreeing to mutually beneficial terms is a win-win.

Optimizing Your Stay For Amazing Content

Once you’ve secured your dream free hotel stay, it’s time to start planning your content strategy and execution. You want to make sure you provide the hotel stellar promotional material from your time there.

Here are my tips for making the most of your sponsored hotel stay:

Do A Site Visit Beforehand: If possible, visit the property beforehand to scout photo locations. This allows you to plan shots and storylines in advance.

Pack Photography Gear: Bring your best camera, tripod, mini studio lights, pro editing apps, etc. Elevate the quality to match the luxury surroundings.

Wake Up Early For Empty Spaces: Schedule sunrise alarm calls for empty lobby and pool shots before other guests arrive. Late evenings can also offer a quieter ambience.

Capture Lifestyle Shots: Photograph experiences like working out in the fitness center, enjoying breakfast in your robe, walking the grounds, etc. Show off the whole lifestyle.

Take Advantage of Group Spaces: Host friends for wine in the lobby bar, brunch in the restaurant, or a treatment together at the spa. Include others to showcase the social experience.

Collaborate With Other Content Creators: Invite other influencers or local photographers to collaborate on new angles and creative shots. Develop an entire storyline together.

Utilize Hashtags: Always use the hotel’s branded hashtags in your posts and stories so your content is shoppable and can be Reshared by their account.

Tag Them: Properly tag the hotel in all posts and ensure you have the correct handle. Ask them to share and repost your features with you tagged for amplified reach.

Post Consistently: Share content in real time throughout your trip, plus schedule additional posts in the following weeks and months. The longer your stay is promoted, the more value for the hotel.

Give Sneak Peeks: During your stay, invite your followers along through glimpses on stories and IG Lives. Build anticipation for the full review post-trip.

Highlight Special Events: If your stay coincides with a new restaurant opening, holiday package launch, or on-site wedding – showcase it! Give them content from special happenings.

The hotel is comping your stay because they want amazing visual content for their own channels. Overdeliver on quality imagery that shows off the property in the best light.

Writing A Stellar Hotel Review

One of the best ways to add major value as an influencer is to write a detailed hotel review that lives on your blog forever.

Aim for at least 600+ words and 20 high-quality photos that showcase all the property has to offer. Focus on providing an authentic experience of what it‘s like to stay there.

Most hotels will happily provide insider tips to feature – suggestions for top staff to meet, best holiday decorations, upcoming packages to tease, nearby attractions, lessons learned from past guests, etc. Take advantage of their knowledge so you can share little-known facts and helpful advice.

I recommend covering:

  • Overview of your room/suite and amenities
  • Pool and spa features
  • Dining options and menu recommendations
  • Onsite activities and recreation
  • Customer service experiences
  • Local area attractions and excursions
  • How to book with special packages or offers
  • Where to get the best photos and views

Make sure to include plenty of storytelling about your personal experiences. The details are what make a review resonate.

Blog reviews tend to have high Google ranking potential. A well-optimized review helps the hotel’s SEO and can drive direct bookings long after your stay. It’s an incredibly valuable asset for them.

Maintaining The Partnership Long-Term

The goal of influencer collaborations with hotels is to turn one-time partnerships into ongoing relationships. You want the hotel to think of you as an ambassador who consistently promotes their brand over time.

Here’s how to cement yourself as a long-term partner:

Exceed Expectations: Overdeliver on your promised promotion and content to show them you’re a worthwhile investment. Make them want to work with you again.

Offer Post-Stay Reporting: Share in-depth analytics reporting on your posts’ reach and engagement. Provide real data proving your value.

Keep Promoting: Continue featuring their brand organically in future relevant content. Tag them in other influencers‘ posts from the property to show your ongoing support.

Inquire About Off-Season Rates: Offer to visit in their slower seasons to produce content encouraging bookings during those times. Everyone wins with discounted stays.

Suggest Additional Campaigns: Brainstorm new partnership ideas like promoting holiday packages, restaurant openings, anniversary specials, etc. Make yourself indispensable!

Give Feedback: Provide thoughtful feedback on your stay and make constructive suggestions for improvement. Position yourself as an advisor.

Say Thank You: Send handwritten notes, small gifts, or complimentary social shares to maintain your relationships with hotel staff. Gratitude goes a long way.

Stay In Touch: Check in periodically with hotel contacts to say hi and recap successes from past campaigns. Keep reminding them of your partnership.

The more value you continue providing well after your initial stay, the more hotels will want to keep working with you again and again.

Mistakes To Avoid

While FREE hotel stays sound awesome (and they are!), there are definitely some common missteps to sidestep in working with hotels:

  • Making unreasonable demands for over-the-top amenities, gifts, services, etc. Be reasonable with requests.

  • Not briefing hotel staff that you’re there in partnership. Make sure they’re informed and onboard.

  • Using fake positivity in your content if you have a subpar experience. Provide authentic, honest feedback.

  • Skipping contracted deliverables or missing content deadlines. Always fulfill what you promised.

  • Featuring competing brands without permission. Some hotels want exclusive partnerships.

  • Going silent and not keeping in touch after your stay. Continue nurturing the relationship.

  • Neglecting to tag the hotel or follow agreed-upon usage guidelines. Respect the terms.

As long as you stay professional, deliver stunning content, and keep the hotel’s goals top of mind, you’ll develop fantastic ongoing partnerships.

Who wouldn‘t love that? Free luxury hotel stays in exchange for doing what you already love – creating amazing content.

Hopefully this guide provided helpful insider tips for securing incredible sponsored collaborations with hotels as an influencer! Let me know if you have any other questions. I‘m always happy to offer advice.

Looking forward to seeing all the incredible content you‘ll create on your next gifted getaway. Bon voyage!


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.