Social media influencers: Whether you love them or hate them, they’re here to stay; so what’s the best way to work with them to ensure a positive impact on your hotel? In 2018, a public spat between hotel owner Paul Stenson and social media influencer and vlogger Elle Darby hit the headlines. Darby had emailed Stenson asking for a complimentary stay at his hotel Charleville Lodge in Dublin, in exchange for promotional vlogs and Instagram updates to her thousands of followers; but, rather than book her in, Stenson posted a scathing reply on his Facebook page listing the reasons why he had no time for social influencers. You may have already received requests like Darby’s at your hotel, or you may be yet to be contacted, but what is the best response when your inbox pings with messages from bloggers offering Instagram posts rather than cold hard cash for a stay? Adam Lamb, social media and customer experience manager at ETM Group, says working with social media influencers can pay off, but recommends you do your homework first. “I can usually spot ‘paid’ influencers or bloggers, which is what you need to stay away from,” he warns. “Unnatural comments such as opening times, overprocessed professional photography or mentions of offers within a blog post automatically make the comments feel more like an advertorial, which is not what the audience wants to see in their newsfeeds. “To find the sweet spot for an influencer, you need to be looking for fun, quirky posts with good engagements, fair and honest reviews and ideally a follower base larger than the number of people they follow.” Once you’ve checked out an influencer’s credentials, the next question you need to ask is will their proposed coverage have a positive impact on your business? Lamb recommends looking at who they’ve worked with in the past – but not always opting for the obvious. “If 99 out of 100 posts were about hotels it’s extremely difficult to stand out,” he explains. “Some of the best results I’ve had have been by inviting influencers that are targeted while also introducing something different. For example, inviting an American burger blogger to a Great British game restaurant and serving them haggis and black pudding Scotch eggs, or inviting a wine blogger to a beer and cheese night, creates something out of the norm for the blogger – it’s all about standing out from the crowd.” So, you’ve invited your (carefully-researched) influencer to your property, they have visited and posted their thoughts online. How do you measure whether it was a successful process or not? “The big gain of influencers is the fact that you are reaching potential guests that you wouldn’t normally,” Lamb says. “I would always look at the sentiment from the influencer’s followers or community rather than paying too much attention to the review. If it’s well-received with lots of comments and reactions then it’s worth exploring again in the future.” Social media tip: “To get the most out of influencers, it’s vital to agree in advance the amount of social media posts they will share throughout their stay – ideally two or more posts per night. Also, let them know which are the key ‘Instagramable’ areas of the hotel you would like them to feature.” This article first appeared in Curious, issue one.