How To Vet Influencers for Hotels

March 29, 2019

Has your hotel ever been approached by an influencer looking to collaborate? If you answered yes, did you have any clue how to decide if the collaboration was worth your investment?

That’s where we come in.

While influencer marketing is nothing new in the digital world, it’s become a buzz word in recent years thanks to the rise of popularity on social media’s visual front runner and content king, Instagram.

Bloggers, vloggers and content creators alike have been around for decades, sharing content on sites like Tumblr, YouTube and more. But recently, the spotlight has been on social media influencers.

An influencer is defined as a person or thing that influences another, and the right influence is critical. So, how do you know when those free room nights and F&B credits are worth your investment? Let’s start by defining your goals.

Define Your Goals

Here are some collaboration goal ideas to get your gears spinning:

  • Raise awareness for your hotel by reaching target travel audiences;
  • Spread the news of a recent renovation by sharing amazing content to show it off;
  • Drive locals to dine at your top-notch restaurant by having a trusted foodie share their experience;
  • Build up a library of authentic, quality content to repurpose and elevate your marketing game.

Determine the Type of Influencer

Once you’ve identified your goals, your next step is to figure out the type of influencer who can help you meet those goals.

First, you need to find the influencer’s primary platform. Don’t be shy to ask for relevant links such as social media profiles, websites or media kits. You don’t want to make a blind decision here, and figuring out this person’s primary platform is the first step.

If it’s a blog, well, clearly you’ve got a blogger on your hands. If a blog post sharing photos and anecdotes from this person’s perspective would be in line with your goals, you may want to move forward.

If their primary platform is a video-hosting site, such as YouTube, they would be considered a vlogger. If a quick video highlighting this person’s experience at your hotel and around the local area would help meet your needs, keep the conversation going.

If their primary platform is Instagram, Facebook or another social media site, it’s likely they fit into the social media influencer category. If social media posts and content highlighting this person’s experience at your hotel would help you achieve a win, you might have an opportunity here.

Determine the Influencer’s Value

Once you know who you’re dealing with, the next step is to determine what your takeaway would be from the collaboration. At Casual Fridays, we’ve broken this down into a few categories to think about:

Minimal reach and excellent content

If the following on the influencer’s primary platform is below 10K, but their content is impeccable, they could be a great fit. If quality content is valuable to you in your marketing efforts, this would probably be a worthy investment. A few free room nights are typically much more affordable than hiring a professional photographer, and an influencer’s lifestyle content usually performs much better!

Massive reach and mediocre content

If the following on the influencer’s primary platform is more than 50K, but their content isn’t necessarily what you would put on your website, you still have some value here. If reaching this influencer’s audience to promote your hotel is valuable to you, this is worth your time.

Decent reach and decent content

If the following on the influencer’s primary platform is between 10K-50K and their content is above average, but not excellent, chances are you’ve got a micro-influencer on your hands.

Micro-influencers are becoming more and more popular because they allow you to reach a niche audience and typically over deliver on their side of the exchange. These tend to be some of our favorite collaborations!

Massive reach and excellent content

These individuals have a large audience of 50K+ followers and create exceptional content that will showcase your property in a positive light. Depending on the goal, they’d be great candidates for takeovers and/or personal publishing.

You may be tempted to prioritize following over content, but at Casual Fridays, we firmly believe that numbers aren’t everything. With the rise of micro-bloggers and influencers creating outstanding content, these collaborations can be invaluable.

Check for Red Flags

So, you have a good idea of your goals and how this influencer may help you achieve them. Before you pull the trigger, you’ll want to cover a few more bases to make sure you’re making a smart move.

Determine their audience

So they have a following of over 100K, but are those people likely to be your guests? Will their younger audience be inclined to book hotel rooms, or will their vegan followers be interested in visiting your new steakhouse?

Take some time to skim through their followers and make sure they are your target audience. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box either!

Evaluate their engagement

If an influencer has over 50K followers but gets only 10 comments per post or an absurd amount of inauthentic comments, that’s a huge red flag. Likes are also a lot easier to buy so a high likes-to-comment ratio may be a red flag as well. In either of these scenarios, they’ve likely either purchased followers or have a terrible engagement rate so move on.

To determine their engagement rate, come up with an average number of comments per post and divide that by their number of followers. If it’s greater than 3%, their engagement is above average. You’ll also want to read some of their comments to make sure their engagement is authentic and valuable.

Look for fishy situations

If a decent percentage of their followers are fake profiles, it’s likely they bought followers, which does you no good. It’s likely they participate in “pod” usage, meaning they trade comments with other influencers to boost their engagement if a decent portion of their comments come from other influencers. Once again, this does you no good. If they have 10K followers and are following 9K accounts, chances are their “real” following is about 1K, so proceed with caution.

Define an Exchange

By now you should have a pretty good idea of whether you want to move forward with this collaboration, but you’ll want to set clear expectations before sealing the deal.

Be very clear about what you are willing to offer.

Define the number of room nights you can provide, the dollar amount of F&B credits you can offer, any on-site amenities you are willing to comp, etc. If you don’t define this early on, you may waste your time if the influencer has higher expectations than is profitable for your business.

We recommend generosity here where possible because we’ve found the content and posts you receive directly correlates with what you provide. The more time they’re on-property and the more they experience, the more opportunity they have to capture outstanding content.

Also, be very clear about what you expect in return, and be realistic with the value of your exchange so that each party can walk away feeling like they won. Define the number of social media posts and what handles and hashtags they should mention, the number of photos and/or videos they hand over to you, what hotel features you want to make sure they cover, etc.

You don’t want to provide 3 free nights and complimentary F&B in exchange for 1 Instagram post and be disappointed.

Make It Official

A contract is essential here to ensure you’re covered and don’t get, for lack of a better word, screwed.

The next time an influencer approaches your hotel, follow our steps to find success:

  • Define your goals,
  • Determining what kind of an influencer you’re dealing with,
  • Check for red flags.

Finish up by defining an exchange you can feel confident with that benefits both you AND them. It’s a win-win.

Are you ready to take the next step and activate on an influencer marketing campaign? Remember, it’s critical to have a contract in place. If you don’t have one, just download our template here:

download our free contract template.