Utilize Blog & Social Media To Get Hotel Stays For Free.

Writing a travel blog and building a strong social media following can be very hard work, but you can benefit from it in so many different ways.  If you are ready to tackle one of the most popular benefits of blog/ social media, which is receiving free hotel stays, follow this helpful guide on how to get started.

All those travel related posts and all those social media updates you do will grow the number of people that are following you, and those people will assist you in scoring free hotel stays.  Of course, there is a little more work that you will need to put into getting free hotel stays, both before and after your stay, but the money that you are saving, and the improved popularity of your accounts will be worth it all. 

Here are the five steps that we find are always helpful when utilizing a travel blog for free hotel stays:

1.           Always show how the hotel can benefit before you ask for a free night’s stay

2.           Gather the contact information for numerous hotels

3.           Contact each hotel individually

4.           Follow up with each individually contacted hotel and then contact a few more

5.           Always deliver more than what you agreed on

 

Step 1: Always show how the hotel can benefit before you ask for a free night’s stay

You may be tempted to ask for a free hotel stay immediately upon contacting a hotel, but you can only do this if you can show the hotel how they can benefit from the deal.  After all, why should they help you with your business, if you cannot help them with theirs?!

You should be able to create a professional request using a customized domain email address or no hotel is going to take you seriously.  Yes, I realize that a customized domain email address costs money, but it is only around ten dollars, and you need to make investments to earn more money. 

Before you approach a hotel, you should have at least five thousand people following your blog, as well as a DA score that is at least twenty.  However, you may be able to ignore those numbers for your blog if your social media accounts have allowed you to go viral.  After all, many people rely on social media for their information nowadays, and hotels are recognizing that.  The minimum amount of followers that you should have for social media is ten thousand, and while each platform is useful, Instagram offers the best success rates. 

Now, those above numbers are not always going to guarantee that you will get every free hotel stay that you desire.  If you cannot tell a remarkable story within your posts or your readers are not that engaged, or the hotel’s brand doesn’t match yours, you won’t be capitalizing on anything.  Of course, you may also find that you can’t receive a free hotel stay when you want it simply because the hotel is full for the dates you requested, or the marketing manager doesn’t feel that they need any more publicity. 

I prefer to use social media for posting my reviews of hotel stays, as they do not take up that much time.   A blog post can take me hours to craft and publish, and a hotel review post is not going to see as many clicks as a more in-depth post that I can do focusing on a certain area of the world. 

This isn’t to say that you cannot write a post on your blog reviewing the hotel.  You absolutely can, and they may do well if you have the right followers.  If you have a blog that focuses on one location, then you can write the post with the hotel being the best place to stay when a person is in the area.  However, if your blog focuses on multiple areas, I recommend writing your post as a local guide that includes the hotel as well as things to do. 

If you are looking to get a head start on reviewing hotels before you are ready to receive free hotel stays, you can always do ones for hotels that you have paid for.  This will give you a little experience and give hotels something to look at when they are considering hiring you to promote their business. 

Step 2: Gather the contact information for numerous hotels

During this step, you will gather the contact information for the hotels that are in the area that you want to visit.  The hotels that you choose should match the style of your blog, which means no budget hotels for high-end blogs and no luxurious hotels for a budget friendly travel blog. 

You will want to keep in mind that each hotel will vary in what they expect in return for a free hotel stay.  A budget friendly hotel may be happy with a few social media posts, while a higher-end hotel may require a blog post and a higher number of social media engagements.

It is easy to search for hotels in the area that you want to visit, especially with sites like Booking.com and Agoda.  These sites will show you the best hotels at your desired destination.  I recommend placing the hotels and their contact information in a spreadsheet, so you can keep track of those hotels you have contacted and the answer that they gave you.  This will make it easier when you are following up with a hotel that you have not heard back from. 

I recommend choosing ten hotels and then contacting them a couple at a time.  After all, you don’t want to waste another hotel’s time if the one that you really want says yes right away.  You can contact the others, a few at a time, if you do not hear back from the first couple. 

When you are sending out your emails, you should direct them to the press or media team or marketing manager.  If you cannot find that information, then the general manager is your next best bet.  I have found that sending a quick message to the reception area yields me the best results, as I can have the name of the person I want my email to go to, and I can personalize it accordingly. 

If you are worried about wasting your time by contacting hotels that never work with bloggers, you can do a quick Google search of ‘{Destination of choice} hotel opinions are my own’.  This will give you a list of hotels in your desired location that have worked with bloggers in the past.  You can even use this information to see what types of bloggers the hotel prefers to work with and see if your travel blog matches their criteria. 

Step 3: Contact each hotel individually

Once you have searched for your favorite hotels in the area that you want to travel to, and copied down their information, it is time to contact each one individually.  This is not the time for mass emails or a one email fits all scenarios situation.  You will need to create a proposal for each hotel that you would like to have consider you!

I prefer to send my emails to the proper people at the hotels on Sunday evenings, because it will be the first one that they see when they click on their inbox on Monday morning.  If your Sundays are super busy with other obligations, you can always type up the email and save it as a draft beforehand.  Then, all you need to do is click send on Sunday night. 

The beginning of your proposal should include how the hotel will benefit from partnering with you.  Then state how many social media followers you have or how many people read your blog.  You can even incorporate pictures or videos into this proposal to show them how creative you are. 

Here is a template you can use as a guideline for creating your proposal email:

Hello {contact name},

My name is … and I own the blog ….  My blog focuses on ….{short description of your blog}.  You will also find me on Facebook at , Instagram at , and Twitter at .  (You can incorporate as many social media sites as you desire here)

(This next paragraph will focus on the hotel and the reasons why you would like to partner with them.  This is where you will also state how your followers will be able to relate to the hotel.)

I am contacting you today to see if I can collaborate with {hotel name}.  (If you have had successful partnerships with companies in the past, this is where you can list them)  I would like to know if you would be interested in partnering with me during my upcoming trip to {area you are visiting}. 

I am able to provide {blog post, social media posts, travel video, etc}.  With the scope of this project, I am asking for {number of nights according to the amount of work you are offering} nights at {hotel name} for {dates you are interested in or date range}. 

The content that I share will reach an audience of more than {the number of followers for your blog} and my experiences will be seen on social media, where I have {total number of followers across all platforms} followers. 

I’ll be visiting on .

Thank you for taking the time to read this email and I look forward to hearing back from you!

Sincerely,

{name and email signature}

The hotels that have no interest in working with you will reply rather quickly, although please do not be surprised if some of them do not reply at all.  The hotels that will consider your proposal, will respond right away by asking questions about what you are proposing or for more details.  You may need to message them quite a few times or make a few phone calls to iron out the details.  This can take a couple of days or it can take a few weeks before everything is finalized. 

I recommend beginning to send your proposals to hotels at least one month in advance of your arrival.  This ensures that you will not have an issue with availability of rooms and that you can get a contract finalized. 

Step 4: Follow up with each individually contacted hotel and then contact a few more

You will want to follow up with the hotels that you haven’t heard from a week after you sent the proposal.  This can be a short email that simply states that you contacted them the week before and ask if they have had a chance to consider your proposal.  This is not the time to be pushy. 

I only recommend sending this one follow up email, as hotel employees can get quite busy and they may have forgotten that they meant to reply.  Or, your email got lost amongst the others and they cannot find it to reply like they would like to.  If they do not respond after a follow up email, it is most likely because they have no interest in collaborating with you at this time. 

Certain hotels will be more willing to work with bloggers and social media influencers than others, so please do not take a refusal or non-reply personally.  You must respect their decision and quickly get to work sending out some more emails to the next hotels on your list. 

Step 5: Always deliver more than what you agreed on

Once you receive your first sponsored stay at a hotel, you must fulfill your part of the contract.  I always recommend delivering more than what you agreed on, because it can lead to more opportunities with that hotel in the future. 

Therefore, you will want to make sure that there is room within your proposal, so you can deliver more than you promised.  You should never promise more than you can deliver to begin with, because the worst thing that you can ever do is deliver less than what you promised.  And, that is just asking for problems with not only this hotel, but future companies. 

Once you have completed your stay at the hotel, you should keep in touch with your contact person there.  While you’ll be sharing social media content throughout your stay, the blog post will not be released until after you have returned home, and you can send it to your contact person when it is released.  You should always make it clear as to what date the hotel review will be on your blog and when videos will be completed for sharing. 

After all blog posts and other items in your proposal have been completed, you can send the numbers of who saw it to your contact person at the hotel.  Of course, they should be sharing your content on their social media page as well, which can help boost their numbers and yours. 

A few final thoughts

Both blogging and social media is always going to be difficult and you’re going to work so many long hours without seeing any money for quite some time.  And when you do receive one of the many benefits, like a free hotel stay, remember, it’s not really free.  You worked hard and will continue to work hard to earn that hotel stay. 

All those reviews and partnerships will take a large amount of time, so please keep that in mind when you begin to consider doing them.  I personally will not do one of these partnerships unless I know that I will be saving at least two hundred dollars on my room. 

I am not saying that these sponsored partnerships are not worthwhile, and while they are difficult, they are easier to obtain than you think.  The good news is that these partnerships will help you grow your blog and assist you with collaborating with more brands. 

Traveling is one of the best ways to see new parts of the world, meet new people, and have amazing experiences.  If you can blog about all that at the same time and share it with the world, you are lucky.  Just make sure that you make time to have fun as you are trying to do it all and only offer things that you can successfully deliver. 

 

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