complimentary hotel stay as a travel blogger

How to get a complimentary hotel stay as a travel blogger – 2017 Edition

So it’s 2017 and the number of travel bloggers have radically increased since I wrote the first version of how to get a complimentary stay as a travel blogger. Hotels have acquired knowledge on how to assess the relationship of a blogger and their audience through an effective and easy metric system. They are slowly educating themselves to be able to see the return on investment if they are to give a complimentary stay to travel bloggers.

It used to be so easy. I’ve been working with hotels for years but I still find it very difficult to close a deal. Even if I have decent following on social media and a good Google ranking, I still have to put my best foot forward. I had to change my pitching techniques, analyse my methods and choose the best system that works.

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I used to create content for hotels just to get it over with but when I entered the world of full-time travel blogging, I vowed to myself to always do my best when working with brands, most especially hotels. Hotels are never out of the travel picture – they are always there even if travel gets out of trend or reach its point of extinction.

Through endless analysation and experimentation, I would like to share to you what works when it comes to getting a complimentary hotel stay as a travel blogger – a method that I have applied about 4 months ago.

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E-mail subject

[us_iconbox icon=”fa-envelope-open” title=”What I was using before”]Media Inquiry: Interested To Feature (Hotel Name) In A Digital Travel Magazine[/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-envelope-open-o” title=”What I am using now”]Media Inquiry from a Travel Journalist[/us_iconbox]

As the digital world evolves, attention span decreases. The subject I was using before was too long (so much that it exceeds the Gmail line, you won’t even read the whole subject at first glance). Email subjects should be short and straight to the point. Hotel people are usually busy with so many things so if they don’t deem your message important, tendency is it will go straight to trash.

You might ask why I use “Travel Journalist” instead of “Travel Blogger.” The truth is, no matter how aware the world is about travel bloggers, they still don’t understand the value of working with us. Many people still don’t understand that this is a full-time job and deserves compensation. If I put travel journalist (which is technically another term for travel blogger), it looks more professional to them and they will most likely be interested in reading the email.

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Salutation

[us_iconbox icon=”fa-address-card” title=”What I was using before”]To the Marketing Manager of (insert hotel name here)[/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-address-card-o” title=”What I am using now”]Hey there![/us_iconbox]

I know “hey there!” is so fecking informal but the salutation where you have to change the hotel name every time you are mass sending always gets me in trouble. The copy/paste thing is a real killer so if you want to make things simple, “hey there” is the key.

“Hey there!” sucks but it’s personal. It’s short and saves you time. In some instances, remember that hotels post the email address of the Marketing person (i.e. name@hotel.com) so if this is available, always bear in mind that addressing people with their first names is more personal. It gives them a sense of respect and it makes them feel that the email is really for them so they should read and answer it.

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Body (Paragraph 1 - Intro)

I used to have a detailed (100 word) paragraph about what my blog is all about but I realised that nobody is actually interested in that. Hotels are more particular with numbers, with achievements so instead of putting effort in introducing my brand, I now go straight to the trophies:

“I am Trisha Velarmino, a travel journalist and I run the popular adventure travel blog P.S. I’m On My Way (don’t forget to link the anchor text of your blog name) and I’m writing to you today about featuring your company in a digital travel magazine with an extra online (social media) exposure. I am also a top reviewer on TripAdvisor and have written for platforms like Thought Catalog, Huffington Post, BBC, etc.”

This is short but it gives them a better understanding of who and what you are. I also realised that if you copy/paste the “about” page of your blog as an intro, they won’t click your blog link anymore. They won’t be curious and won’t find it interesting to know more about you.

Give them a reason to click.

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Body (Paragraph 2 - Details)

Put the exact date of your stay because it will give them an idea if they can host you.

“I will be going to Chefchaouen on 15 May and I would like to talk to your Marketing Manager about this opportunity of collaboration. I can make drone images and 30-sec spiels of your hotel and also make high-resolution photos for you. Additionally, articles can also be written in my luxury travel section with a  link to your website (which is very good for Google searches).”

Don’t talk about social media yet. Throw them the Google card. The value of Google ranking is important to hotels because it gives them sales – people don’t book hotels through Instagram, Facebook or Twitter! I mean, if you are looking for hotels yourself, where do you go? Google, right?

Put some keywords that are very familiar (i.e. “drone footages” rings a bell to everyone) but make sure to use your blog’s specialty in doing so. Are you good with photos? Can you provide valuable content that they can use in their marketing? This is a much stronger point if you feel like you have a low following on social media. Feel free to send your work samples, too – but don’t shove it on their faces. Better to give subliminal links like attaching a sample of your work in the email.

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Body (Paragraph 3 - Closing)

I always close my small pitch with two sentences:

“Please let me know who’s in charge of your marketing. I attached my media kit for your perusal.”

Remember you got the hotel’s email address from their website and more often, they are email addresses of the concierge or reservations so always assume that your first message will not to straight to the person who is in-charge to answer it.

Now about your social media stats, if you want to add some spice and plus points to your pitch, attach your media kit instead of putting it in the body of the email. As a travel blogger who’s pitching to brands, advertisers and companies, a media kit is a basic need. If you don’t have one yet, you better do it now!

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The email sample above is short because that is just the first wave. It’s a bait. You want them to reply first as oppose to throwing them with overloaded information all at once. The reason why you are sending a short email first is because you are prepared for the second wave – the real pitch.

Usually, hotels will reply asking questions because they had no idea what you just sent – it wasn’t clear what you really wanted but leave it like that. First emails should tickle the mind of who you are pitching to. As long as you mentioned “complimentary stay in exchange for extra online exposure,” they get the picture.

And they will want to see what they are getting if they ever agreed to collaborate with you.

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The Second Wave (What can you do for them?)

Now this is the more serious wave because they are finally interested in working with you. Congratulations! They took the bait! In this part, you have to give them what you can offer in the most understandable way.

Don’t just give them everything! You have to carefully choose it by looking at their property and the nightly prices of the stay. This is the time to cross reference it to your media rates (if you have any. Actually, you should have one).

For example, let’s say you charge $300 USD to write an article, $150 for an Instagram post, $40 for a Twitter shout-out, and so on… Calculate the nightly rates of the hotel you want to work with. If Hotel A charges $900 per night, take all the prices from your media rate card. Add everything and voila! You now have an offer.

In my case, as I don’t do hotel reviews, I give more social media exposure. Here’s what I pitch them:

3D/2N Stay, full board meals, (2pax)

  1. 1 Youtube spiel (30-sec to 1:30 min). Final file will be given to you for your company’s use, with copyright. (Valued at $200 USD)
  2. 1 Pinterest promotion, high res image (valued at $180 USD)
  3. 1 Instagram photo with tags and mentions (valued at $300 USD)
  4. Instagram Stories for the duration of the stay (3 days valued at $300 USD, unlimited stories)
  5. 1 Personal Facebook promotion with tags and mentions. (Price unavailable)
  6. Addition to the website’s country maps. Your exact location will be showcased in a map that is viewed by many. (valued at $50 USD per year)
  7. 1 Flipboard Promotion. This is a permanent link. No removal. (Valued at $120 USD)
  8. 1 Newsletter Ad (over 3,000+ active subscribers open our newsletter), one-time ad only. (Valued at $100 USD)
  9. Ad on the luxury hotels page of the website (under construction). Do-follow link and a photo of your property taken by us. (valued at $120 USD per year)
  10. 5-7 high-res images FOC that you can use for your personal marketing endeavours. Drone shots are also included with editing. I will give you the rights to use it as per our company policy.

Again, your offer should depend on the nightly rates of the hotel. Some hotels will offer you just one night and I usually say no to this. 2 days is not enough to do the work for them (i.e. videos, photos, etc) and more often, hotels that offer this is a complete joke and are not maximising their advertising budget. They have it, but they don’t want to give it because they are not really sure with what they are doing. It’s not worth your time and effort to work with people who don’t give you 100%.

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Getting a complimentary hotel stay as a travel blogger may seem shining, shimmering, splendid but remember that this is work. Although you are not paying them monetarily, you are giving them your time and effort that deserves to be compensated. This is the work and it’s not easy.

Always remember that if you pitch and you sound like you are not believing in what you can do, you will never get the complimentary hotel stay. Having faith in the value of work that you can deliver mostly does the trick. If you know what you are doing, then you will definitely find your way in pitching hotels in this big terrain of travel blogging.

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Have you pitched to a hotel before? How did you do it? Was it a successful collaboration?

Share your tips in the comment box below and help other travel bloggers make it!

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Trisha is one of those people who left their comfortable life to travel the world and learn about life. Her style is to stay in one place she likes for 3 months (or more) to know what it feels like to eat, cook, speak, and sleep in another culture that isn’t hers. She'd like to believe she's not traditionally traveling but she just chooses to be somewhere else all the time. In no particular order, her favorite cities in the world are Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Mexico City, and Tel Aviv.

Comments

  • April 20, 2017

    This post is so helpful, Trisha! Thank you!

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  • April 20, 2017

    Last year, I sent a proposal to a hotel here in Cebu for the first time and that’s because I read the old version of this post! I took note of your tips on how to write a proposal and I was so happy that my first time was a success. Thanks to you, Trisha! I’m currently planning on creating the second one soon! Hehe.

    P.S. Your blog is one of my inspirations! I wish I could write as good as you! <3

    reply
  • April 22, 2017

    Great blog and really good tips here. I will add some of this into the letters I write to hotels and see if it gains me more looks in. 🙂

    reply
  • Chrysoula
    April 23, 2017

    Great tips Trisha, I have pitched a work worked with a couple of hotels. I usually send one email and that is enough but I include what I am offering in my initial proposal. I might experiment a little. Do you put the prices next to what you offer?

    reply
  • Amelie
    April 23, 2017

    Great post! I love reading how other bloggers do their hotel pitch. Helps me improve upon my own a whole lot, so thanks! <3

    reply
  • April 23, 2017

    What fantastic tips. I’m definitely saving this one although I’m studying email marketing communications for my Masters dissertation and all the research I’m doing talks about the need to personalise the greeting so I think it’s probably worth trying to get the exact email address where possible

    reply
  • Megan Jerrard
    April 23, 2017

    Great tips Trisha 🙂 I’ve recently found that a number of hotels are actually interested if you can provide content for their sites too, so I always tell people not to be shy in pitching if they have a small site, because if you’re brill writer of photographer, that has value too 🙂

    reply
  • April 23, 2017

    I have pitched so many hotels in the past and I wrote so many hotel reviews, that I dont think I want to do it anytime soon. Are you going to Chefchaouen in May? Wow, I m jealous. I want to go there too!

    reply
  • April 23, 2017

    I do similar things with my proposals, but I like a few of your pointers. It is always nice to see what other people are doing, what is successful or not, and adjusting my pitch to make it as effective as possible. I love the tip about mentioning Google ranking. That one will be in my next pitch!

    reply
  • April 24, 2017

    I always introduce myself, ask exactly what I am looking for and links to previous pertinent work. he main thing is to present what you can do for them.

    reply
  • Sam
    April 24, 2017

    This is mega useful, I have only done one pitch (moderately successful – free breakfast XD), thanks for the awesome guide, I’ll definitely be using it!

    reply
  • April 25, 2017

    This post is what I need at the moment! I haven’t tried sending a request to a hotel but I will follow your suggestions and I will try it soon!

    reply
  • April 25, 2017

    This is such a useful post for all of us travel bloggers, or others who aspire to become one! I am going to use some of your tips here next time 🙂

    reply
  • April 25, 2017

    Thanks for updating your post, it’s got some really useful info and I like that you list the value of the services you offer. I think that can certainly make marketers more aware of your value. Like you say, as soon as they hear/think ‘blogger’ it’s an uphill battle.

    reply
  • April 25, 2017

    Excellent advice here. I’ve done brand collaborations although haven’t done any pitching hotel stays before so this is a great guide. Saving it for later. Thanks heaps.

    reply
  • April 26, 2017

    Thanks for this Trisha, really useful. I’m still struggling to get the right balance right between actually enjoying our travels and working on our blog / social media profile but this will be super useful when I do get it right. Thanks for sharing.

    reply
  • April 27, 2017

    Actually your old version still works 🙂 scored our very first sponsored stay. It was indeed success and it’s time now to WORK work work 🙂 THANK YOU for sharing.

    reply
  • April 27, 2017

    Helpful tips – thanks Trisha. I often work with tourism boards and hotels – my approach is similar. It is always helpful to see what others are doing. Keep up the great work 🙂

    reply
    • Elle Marie
      February 10, 2018

      Any tips when You have low followers and new to blogging?

      reply
  • April 27, 2017

    I just loved your tips, and I just realised how I was doing it wrong – like writing a lengthy note/subject line, etc. I loved the idea of playing the Google card. I’m gonna use your tips for next pitch. Thanks fo sharing!

    reply
  • April 28, 2017

    Great tips there, Trisha! I’ve worked with a lot of hotels, but my pitch is very different, as I do reviews. Very well done and thanks for sharing with us. 🙂

    reply
  • May 6, 2017

    That was quite an honest and thorough guide! I learned something new with the different media rates you offer, so thanks for that. I don’t work with hotels too often because as you said it’s a lot of work. It’s good to know your worth, and to measure the value of the property vs the value of how much you would earn on what you’re giving.

    reply
  • September 25, 2017

    Hi! Thanks for sharing this article. I’m quite curious about this problem: Let’s say I sent 5 emails for hotels asking for complimentary stay. It’s quite easy if all 5 of them cannot offer anything, so I just have to send more emails to more hotels. But what if I get 2-3 positive responses at the same time? Then I have to choose 1 hotel to stay, right? So how should I “turn down” other proposals from hotels, for example. I’ve read some posts about being turned down by hotels, but not about the other way. Nice to hear from you!

    reply
  • November 12, 2017

    Wow!! Absolutely amazing Trisha. Thank you so much for the useful insights and tips. This will definitely go a long way as I am starting a travel blog dedicated to exploring my local home country. Correct me if I’m wrong but the possibility of hooking up such sponsorship, lies on your stats (i.e. website traffic, social media), which then brings me to this, how do you grow your stats as a new blog(ger), to a point where anyone you pitch can actually be overwhelmed and cannot not afford to work with you?

    reply
  • November 16, 2017

    nice blog and really good tips…

    reply
  • February 7, 2018

    Thank you for sharing your tipps 🙂 I already wrote to a couple of Hotels but not a single one replied so far 🙁

    reply
  • Elle Marie
    February 10, 2018

    Any tips when You have low followers and new to blogging?

    reply
  • February 16, 2018

    Hi Trisha!
    Thank you so much for this information. It was extremely useful but it made me realize that we are so far from being able to pitch a hotel stay because we are just starting.

    What is your suggestion for beginner bloggers/vloggers?

    Thank you for your help.
    Luciana

    reply
  • Amy
    April 10, 2018

    This post was soooo helpful. Thank you for sharing! Reading your blog now and I’m in love – so happy I found you!!

    reply
  • May 12, 2018

    This was amazing!!! I actually use a template I’m proud of but this knocks it out of the park! Thank you!

    reply
  • June 26, 2018

    Loves this post, so helpful, thank you Trisha.

    reply
  • July 28, 2018

    Super generous pitch Trisha. You make it enticing for hotels to work with you. The key is to be helpful and to stress the benefits of the partnership. If hotels overlook their nightly fee you better make your stay well worth the waive; really dig deep to deliver something dripping with benefits to lay the foundation for a successful pitch.

    Ryan

    reply
  • September 30, 2018

    Thanks Trisha! this is very helpful for newbies

    reply
  • Claire
    December 17, 2018

    This was an awesome guide! Thank you so much. 🙂

    reply
  • Has
    February 23, 2019

    Great tips about writing a blog. I just found your article when I was searching for information about writing a blog. Your tips are very helpful, thank you so much for sharing this article with us.

    reply
  • Magnus Ahlin
    April 17, 2019

    Bloggers are welcome to come and stay at the Clubbable villa in Portugal for a post to enjoy the sun by the pool.

    reply
  • serena hale
    December 8, 2019

    This is so helpful. Thank you for doing this.

    reply
  • March 15, 2020

    Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I actually
    enjoyed reading it, you may be a great author. I will remember to bookmark your blog and may come back very soon. I want to
    encourage continue your great work, have a nice morning!

    reply
  • April 19, 2020

    Hi superb website! Does running a blog such as this take a massive amount work? I’ve absolutely no knowledge of computer programming but I had been hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyway, should you have any suggestions or tips for new blog owners please share. I understand this is off subject however I simply wanted to ask. Many thanks!|

    reply
  • August 9, 2020

    I enjoy what you guys are up too. This kind of clever work and reporting!

    Keep up the great works guys I’ve included you guys to our blogroll.

    reply
  • December 18, 2020

    The hotel is nice, no complaints, the service staff is amazing and helpful, my only problem was with front office staff you were not really warm in welcoming the guest, no smile on the face, lack of training I feel personal and location attitude, the breakfast was good Overall I am satisfied with the service but not happy with the front office who are the face of the hotel.

    reply

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P.S. I'm On My Way is a blog by Trisha Velarmino. She didn't
quit her job to travel the world. She made a job out of traveling and you can do it, too.

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