Dreaming of exploring breathtaking destinations without worrying about accommodation costs? Look no further! This blog post will unveil the hidden strategies and tactics that successful travel bloggers use to secure free stays at world-class hotels. From crafting a persuasive hotel pitch to building a strong online presence, you’ll discover the keys to unlocking your dream travel life through strategic hotel partnerships. This article will guide you through the essential components of a successful hotel pitch that will help you secure free accommodations like a pro. From creating personalized and attention-grabbing subject lines to demonstrating your social media influence, you’ll gain the necessary skills to pitch hotels confidently and start experiencing the world one luxurious stay at a time.
How to get complimentary Hotel Stays as a Travel Blogger
Discover the art of persuasive writing and unlock the secrets to crafting a hotel pitch that hotels simply can’t resist. This article will provide you with valuable tips and techniques on how to effectively communicate your passion for travel, showcase your online presence, and highlight your audience reach to secure complimentary stays at luxurious hotels around the world.
We honestly can’t remember the last time we were on vacation. Being travel bloggers means that you are always on “work-mode”. To the rest of the world it might seem like you are having the time of your life and getting to holiday for “free” but trust me when I say nothing in this life comes for free. There are hours upon hours of work involved in writing and marketing a successful travel blog. Creating unique content is hard work. So what if you could leverage your influence and content creation skills to collaborate with hotels and secure free accommodation and reduce travel costs?
Hotel Collaborations are mutually beneficial
It is a win-win situation. The hotel gets free marketing, access to your valued target audience, publicity and photography skills and you in turn are able to travel more frequently as you have to spend less on travel. The new exposure for the hotel leads to many potential new bookings (We have lost track of the amount of messages and e-mails we get thanking us for recommending a place. The unique accommodations we feature get booked out for months following our stays.) In turn we get to stay in some of the most sought after hotels complimentary and create more content that we love.
The most important thing to understand here is that we only ever choose to work with hotels that we are completely happy to recommend. We would NEVER stay in a hotel just because it is “Free”. Trust with your followers is the most important thing and honest opinions count.
Your followers will be spending their hard earned money on these hotels, during their limited vacation time, so you want it to be an unbelievable experience for them. You never want to sell out and recommend a place simply because they put you up for the night. If that was the case, and we weren’t happy to recommend a hotel to our followers, we would simply pay for our stay and move on minus the blog post.
Another thing that we want to make very clear is that we actually believe that you should be getting paid to travel and for the work that you do for a hotel but, we are aware that is not always possible so, we want the focus of this guide to be how to secure complimentary stays as a travel blogger and content creator.
You can purchase our e-book on everything you need to know about working with brands and hotels including 9 email templates to help you perfect your hotel pitch and secure free hotel stays as a travel influencer.
Landing a hotel collaboration is not as simple as “I have 10,000 followers let me stay for free”. In reality, while your follower count does account for some leverage it is only one small part of why a hotel would consider working with you. After all, travel bloggers are essentially sales people to some degree. People buy people, isn’t that what sales is all about? (See Mister Lavin, I do listen to you). We are “selling” the experience we trust and love to our followers. But how can we do that if we can’t even “sell” ourselves?
Know your worth and sell yourself.
At the risk of sounding like a L’Oreal commercial…..BECAUSE YOU’RE WORTH IT! Never underestimate yourself or the content you create. We recently set off on a family roadtrip across the Cotswolds area of the UK with our son. This was something we decided to do for ourselves and was not “work-related”. We weren’t invited by any tourism board, it is just simply a part of the world that we wanted to explore.
We knew that we could provide valuable content to hotels in that area that our audience would love! So we researched and reached out to the hotels we thought we could bring value to. And guess what? We secured all 4 nights complimentary accommodation for 3 people. YOU are the unique selling point and YOUR audience and influence is like gold dust to a hotel. PR and marketing is expensive for hotels and here you are willing to share your voice, your opinion, your views to your audience all for a complimentary stay. It’s a no brainer for them.
Learn how we get paid to travel and stay in 5-star hotels all over the world!
You all know that I (Nicola) slipped into this blogging world quite by accident. I am a trained Medical Scientist which is a complete world away from journalism and travel blogging and all of the new skills that are required to run a successful travel blog. My dad is a journalist so I’m hoping that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to story writing. When I became severely ill and bedbound due to Lyme Disease I turned to Instagram and blogging as a hobby to keep me sane.
My blog and Instagram grew organically but I still felt like a fraud. I gained the confidence to find my voice and know my worth. I applied for The Kerala Blog Express and out of thousands of applicants I got accepted to explore Kerala, India with 26 other bloggers for two weeks. It was the trip of a lifetime. I secured complimentary accommodation for myself, husband and son for a week in New York. I landed collaborations with many brands I love and have worked with numerous tourist boards. Ronan joined the blog as photographer/videographer and together we have worked with over 150+ luxury hotels all over the world. We have even been nominated as top travel influencers in Ireland.
Let’s keep it real. Hotel collaborations are hard work.
Reality check here. A complimentary hotel stay is not all rose petal baths and sipping Prosecco on the balcony so that you can “write about it later”. We won’t even get to set foot inside that hotel room or sink into that cosy bed until it has been photographed to within an inch of it’s life and a room tour goes up on Instagram Stories.
The perfectly curated photographs that you see on Instagram are the result of hours getting the pose right, chasing the light and editing. We are not going to lie this does take away from your time exploring, simply enjoying your family time or chomping into new foods (because they too will have to be photographed ).
Don’t get us wrong. You can still do those things, because otherwise what is the point of travelling, but they become secondary to your responsibilities and commitments as a travel blogger. At the end of the day you are there to introduce a hotel or location to your audience. It is not a free ride and those treating it as such will only make it difficult for future travel bloggers. A hotel will more than likely not agree to future collaborations if they have had a bad experience, so it is our duty to stick to our commitments and provide content that both they and your audience will love.
How to write a successful hotel pitch and secure free accommodation as a travel blogger.
So once you have acknowledged that you are worthy of complimentary accommodation the first thing to do is list all of your previous brand deals and collaborations. More than likely you will have them listed on your Media Kit but it is helpful to prepare a list of your best ones to include in your e-mail pitch.
If you are starting from scratch and haven’t landed any sponsored posts yet that is not a problem. List out brands or companies that you have already talked about on your blog and if you have reviewed a hotel that you have paid for that will be hugely beneficial too. Hotels like to see previous examples of your work to know it is beneficial to them. In other words your work HAS to be worth at least the cost of accommodation to them.
If you have never had sponsored work before it is best to start small and work up. Trust us, we have all been in this place. Reach out to local restaurants for a complimentary meal in exchange for a content creation or to a hotel for their Afternoon tea experience for example. Highlight your unique selling point to a brand and detail ideas about how you would like to showcase their product to YOUR unique audience.
Your audience is the one thing that sets you apart from other bloggers. No two audiences are the same. If you are more of a backpacker with an audience that is extremely interested in budget hotels then there is probably not much point reaching out to a 5-star luxury hotel because you don’t have the target audience for this and you won’t provide any value to the hotel that you are working for.
Showcase your passion for travel
One of the most effective ways to make your hotel pitch stand out and capture the attention of hotels is by showcasing your genuine passion for travel. When hotels receive numerous pitches from different individuals, what will set yours apart is the level of authenticity and enthusiasm you bring to the table.
First and foremost, it’s important to communicate why travel is more than just a hobby for you. A passionate traveller understands the transformative power of exploring new places, immersing yourself in different cultures, and connecting with people from all walks of life. By conveying this depth of understanding, you not only demonstrate your enthusiasm but also show hotels that you appreciate the unique experiences their establishment can offer and be able to create authentic stories for your audience so that they can visualise themselves staying there.
To effectively showcase your passion for travel, bring your personal story to the forefront. Share memorable moments from your past trips that have impacted you deeply or anecdotes that highlight your love for exploring new destinations. These stories should resonate with the emotions and aspirations of the hotels you are pitching to, providing a glimpse into the kind of guest you will be and the value you can bring to their establishment. It will also give them an idea of the audience that you will be introducing their establishment to so that they can ascertain that you will be a good match for each other.
Additionally, leverage your knowledge and expertise in the travel industry. Discuss the destinations you have visited and the insights you have gained during your journeys. Highlight any travel-related content you have created, whether it’s a blog, social media posts, or even articles published in travel magazines. This not only demonstrates your expertise and credibility but also shows hotels that you have a platform to share your experiences and promote their establishment.
By showcasing your passion for travel, you will not only make your hotel pitch more engaging but also establish a genuine connection with hotels. Demonstrating your love for exploring new places and immersing yourself in different cultures will pique their interest and make them eager to collaborate with someone who truly appreciates the value of their hospitality.
This infusion of passion and authenticity in your hotel pitch will set the stage for the next section, where we will delve into the importance of leveraging your online presence to further strengthen your pitch and increase your chances of securing a free stay.
If you need more inspiration to find your passion for travel, check out our guide on why travel is good for the soul!
Research the hotel before you pitch
We we first began collaborating we reached out to a hotel without properly researching if it was the right fit for us (Okay, okay we were blown away by the interiors). We have always loved luxury travel but luxury hotels aren’t going to give you complimentary stays in expensive hotel rooms without previous work to back up your worth. We hadn’t yet built an audience for luxury travel. The proprietor responded that while he loved our blog, he felt like our readership was a little too young for them as their clients were generally much older with a large disposable income. Their prices ranged from £900-£1200 a night! So while we would have absolutely loved to stay there we weren’t the right fit for this hotel at that time and it is important to acknowledge that. So bottom line. Do your research.
As a side note we have since gone on to work for Ashford Castle , one of the most luxurious hotels in the world. We stayed in a suite that cost over €3,000 a night!
But with so many hotels on the market how do you even know where to begin?
Your best chance of securing a hotel stay is by finding hotels that are open to working with bloggers or have previously worked with bloggers in the past. If a hotel has collaborated with a blogger in the past there is a high chance that they value this type of partnership and you will have to do less work convincing them of the benefits of this deal.
Fellow bloggers might help you in this regard but I know most like to hold their cards close to their chest and are careful not to give away valuable contacts.
That is where good old Google comes in. The best way to see if a hotel has worked with a blogger is to search “name of hotel/location”+”all opinions are my own”.
This will retrieve a list of articles, typically from bloggers, who have previously landed collaborations with hotels or tourist boards. Most bloggers include the term “all opinions are my own” in sponsored posts and collaborations.
As previously mentioned we then delve further into the hotel to see if it is the right fit and something that OUR audience would be interested in. We search the hotel on Instagram to see what type of followers they have and how many. We have found that we are more successful when pitching hotels with a smaller following. Let’s face it if a hotel already has 200k followers they probably don’t need the press and are successfully booked out every night.
Next you want to find a contact for the hotel. It is pretty pointless emailing reservations or [email protected] as these will often go unanswered. If you are lucky the hotel will have a Contact us page or Press/Media page. Here look for a specific Marketing Manager or PR person or “for media enquiries” contact email address. If that fails google Marketing Manager + Hotel Name, Media + Hotel Name or check LinkedIn for the name of the person looking after PR for the hotel.
If all else fails send a brief message on Instagram or Twitter asking for the contact details of someone that can help you with your request. Most hotels are happy to help. Typically my message goes like this.
” Hello, we are Nicola and Ronan and we are travel bloggers interested in collaborating with your hotel. Would you mind sharing the e-mail address of the individual who handles media and PR requests for your hotel? We would greatly appreciate this”
We save all the stats and specific details for our actual e-mail pitch. Don’t worry we are going to be sharing the exact email we use with you guys!
Leveraging your online presence for complimentary hotel stays
In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is essential for any aspiring travel writer. By creating and nurturing a vibrant online persona, you can not only amplify your reach but also enhance your credibility and influence within the industry. This section will explore the various ways in which you can leverage your online presence to strengthen your hotel pitch and increase your chances of securing a free stay.
First and foremost, a well-designed website or blog can serve as your virtual portfolio, showcasing your writing skills, photography, and previous travel experiences. Take the time to craft compelling and visually appealing content that reflects your unique voice and style. Keep your website regularly updated with fresh and engaging posts that demonstrate your passion for travel and your ability to captivate an audience. Hotels will be more likely to take notice of your hotel pitch if they can see a well-curated collection of your work.
In addition to your website, social media platforms offer a powerful tool for promoting yourself and connecting with potential collaborators. Building a strong following on platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube not only allows you to share your adventures with a wider audience but also demonstrates your ability to engage with and influence your followers. Cultivate a consistent and authentic online persona that aligns with your brand and showcases your expertise in travel. Build a strong community, engage with followers, respond to comments, and actively seek out collaborations with other influencers or travel-related brands. By doing so, you will not only expand your reach but also establish yourself as a trusted and influential voice in the travel community.
Another effective way to leverage your online presence is by seeking out and participating in online communities and forums dedicated to travel and hospitality. Engage in discussions, share your knowledge, and offer valuable insights to fellow travellers. This not only helps to establish your authority within the travel industry but also provides an opportunity to connect directly with hotel representatives who may be part of these communities. By actively participating and contributing, you can build relationships, gain valuable industry insights, and potentially catch the attention of hotels who may be interested in collaborating with you.
When pitching to hotels highlight your audience reach
One crucial aspect of writing a compelling hotel pitch is showcasing the extent of your audience reach. As a travel writer and influencer, your ability to connect with and engage a large number of people is a valuable asset that hotels would be eager to tap into. By demonstrating the size and engagement of your online community, you can solidify your position as a valuable partner for hotels seeking exposure.
One way to highlight your audience reach is through the use of analytics. Social media platforms and website analytics provide you with valuable data on the demographics, interests, and engagement levels of your audience. By including relevant metrics in your hotel pitch, such as the number of followers, website visitors, or social media impressions you generate, you can provide hotels with tangible evidence of your potential to reach a wide audience.
Additionally, consider sharing examples of your past collaborations with hotels and the impact they had on your audience. Testimonials from satisfied hotel partners can further strengthen your credibility and demonstrate the value you bring to the table. By illustrating the positive results of previous partnerships, you can instill confidence in hotel representatives and make them more likely to consider your pitch.
Moreover, don’t overlook the power of influencer marketing. If you have successfully collaborated with influential figures in the travel industry, mention those partnerships in your pitch. Highlight the reach and reputation of these influencers and how their association with you has benefited both you and the hotels you’ve worked with. This demonstrates not only your ability to connect with a wide audience but also your capability to foster powerful alliances within the travel community.
By showcasing the extent of your audience reach and providing evidence of your past successes, you create a strong case for hotels to host you for free.
How To Write A Successful Hotel Pitch
There are a few steps that you need to take to write a successful hotel pitch. When you begin your pitch you need to be as personal as you can. It will help if you have actually sourced a contact name, “Hello Olivia” works so much better than “Hello there”.
There is no magic follower number to hit before you can pitch a hotel. We’ve seen fellow bloggers with follower counts of 1k on Instagram successfully pitch a hotel and others with over 40k that keep getting knocked back. Our own follower count is still not enormously high but we have successfully landed every hotel that we have pitched by carefully doing our research, personalising our approach and finding the hotel that is the right fit for us.
Be confident in the fact that you have something of value to offer the hotel in exchange for a stay. Start by brainstorming what skills you can provide for the hotel and give them an idea of the content that you hope to create.
Are you an amazing photographer or videographer that can provide the hotel with amazing footage? Do you have an engaged Instagram following chomping at the bit to see where you stay? Are the monthly readers of your blog through the roof? Do you have an enormous e-mail list? Whatever your unique selling point, focus on that and the skills that you can provide.
When it comes to “The Pitch” we can’t emphasise how important it is to focus on the hotel and NOT yourself. Think about the difference between “I want to stay at your hotel for free” and “I can offer you ….. which will benefit you by…” Highlight to the hotel what you can offer them and why they need you.
Prove your worth and value and you will start to notice a change and even get some yes’s.
State clearly exactly what you are looking for. How many nights accommodation you require. Who you are traveling with. It is important to clarify this so that the hotel can see if it has availability. Don’t worry we have our exact email that we use, when writing our hotel pitch, to show you how without sounding rude.
We have also fine-tuned our pitch and include all of our email templates in our guide on getting paid to travel.
If you have specific ideas about how you will showcase the hotel don’t be shy about it! Tell them how you will share about them on social media, how often, and what they can expect. Be clear on what exactly you are offering them.
Include your media kit with a breakdown of all of your stats and previous collaborations.
What to include in your Media Kit
- Your blog name
- “About Me” section introducing who you are/what you do
- Your audience demographics (including age, gender, and where the majority of your readers are located)
- Previous collaborations
- Information about the services you provide (content creation, videography, blog writing, etc.)
- Your contact information
Before hitting send it is important to consider your subject line. Hotels will get hundreds of emails every day pitching collaborations so you don’t want yours to get lost in the mix. We generally use Press Enquiry as we feel that this piques a hotel’s interest but “Collaboration Request” or “Blogger Collaboration for June (for example)” would work well too.
Mastering the follow-up
Once we have sent our email it is so important to follow-up. We can’t begin to tell you how often we get an immediate response to a follow-up email. Hotels can get many messages a day so yours may have got set aside to the “to do later” pile and then forgotten. Part of learning how to write a successful hotel pitch is in how you follow up.
Crafting an irresistible hotel pitch is just the beginning. Once you have sent your pitch and caught the hotel’s attention, it’s crucial to master the follow-up process to seal the deal and solidify your collaborations. First and foremost, be prompt in your response. If a hotel expresses interest or asks for more information, make sure to reply in a timely manner. This shows that you are professional, organized, and genuinely interested in working with them. A delayed response may give the impression that you are not as committed or reliable as you initially seemed.
When responding, be enthusiastic and highlight why you are genuinely excited to collaborate with their establishment. Reinforce the key points from your initial pitch, emphasizing how your partnership will benefit both parties. Showcase your knowledge of the hotel’s offerings and explain how your audience will truly appreciate and engage with their brand.
Additionally, it’s essential to personalize your follow-up. Remember that hotels receive numerous pitches regularly, so standing out is crucial. Reference specific details from your previous communication or show that you have done your research on their property. This demonstrates your genuine interest and dedication to creating a meaningful partnership.
Another effective follow-up tactic is to share any recent successes or milestones you have achieved since your initial pitch. This could include increased audience growth, new influential partnerships, or any relevant media coverage. By highlighting your continued success and credibility, you reinforce that the hotel can benefit from collaborating with you.
Finally, maintain a positive and respectful attitude throughout the follow-up process. Even if a hotel declines your offer, respond graciously and thank them for considering your proposal. Remember, the hospitality industry is a tight-knit community, and maintaining positive relationships can open doors to future opportunities.
Sending the hotel a reminder that you are serious about working with them is often the push that they need to collaborate with you. It is important not to come across as desperate so we will often follow up with an email after about a week to say that we are trying to finalise details with our travel diary and wondered if they had time to consider a collaboration.
You will get a lot of No’s
If they answer is No don’t be disheartened. In fact if you are taking travel blogging seriously you will get more No’s than Yes’s but that is part of the game. There are many reasons for a No and none of them are personal or an indication of your worth.
- You may have requested a stay at the busiest time of year or during a weekend. It is easier to secure weekday stays or off-season, when the hotel is not as busy.
- The hotel may have already allocated all of its budget on marketing so it is good to get in at the beginning of the year.
- Small, family run hotels often can’t afford to give the room to a non-paying guest.
- They are simply not open to collaboration requests or have been burned in the past.
- The hotel may not be able to offer a complimentary stay but can offer media-rate, complimentary dining etc. Determine if this is worth your time and how much you would like to stay there. This kind of offer might be worth accepting if you are just starting out. If however you are only getting a free spa treatment in exchange for a full blog post and Instagram advertising you may want to adjust your pitch to them and offer them something less in exchange. Always remember your worth and never sell yourself short. We recommend reading our blog on working with brands and 5 mistakes you are making as an influencer.
We feel extremely lucky to get to travel as often as we do and stay in some truly amazing hotels. Without successful collaborations we certainly would be travelling less frequently. We enjoy creating content for the hotels that we partner with and coming up with fresh and unique ideas on how to promote a property. Documenting an honest review of our stay helps us build memories of our travels.
By implementing the techniques and strategies outlined in this article, you have the power to unlock incredible opportunities for free hotel stays. With a well-crafted hotel pitch, passionate storytelling, and a solid online presence, you’ll be on your way to securing luxurious accommodations around the world. Start applying these tips today, and let the hotels beg to host you!
We hope that this post has taught you how to write a successful Hotel pitch and secure free accommodation as a travel blogger. But more importantly we hope that it has taught you to value your worth as a content creator and strive for paid collaborations. Have fun reaching out to hotels you wish to work with. If you don’t ask you will never know, right? We would love to hear your success stories.
Until next time you crazy kids!
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