How to get a complimentary hotel stay as a Travel Blogger
Blogging can be a really good tool in traveling for free. I’ve been here in Latin America for two years now and partnerships with hotels/hostels have helped me a lot. The first time I did this was three years ago, in Africa, where Megan, a good friend from the travel blogging community taught me how to.
I didn’t realize that this could really work because of my lack of experience. I sent a message to almost 10 hostels in Marrakech, Morocco and surprisingly, I received remarkable responses! And today, I am going to teach you how you can do it too! Whether you’re a newbie or a professional blogger, this sample letter will help!
… should be direct to the point. What is your goal in working with the company you are tapping for partnership? What is this e-mail message all about? The key: think of a strong subject that will make a Marketing Manager read your message.
Ex. Media Inquiry: Interested To Feature (Hotel Name) In A Digital Travel Magazine
By the way, the example above is what I frequently use. The strong points of this subject are the words ‘feature’ and ‘digital travel magazine’. Why would you want to say “digital travel magazine” if you think you are just an ordinary blogger? Well, my friend, if you are new to this, in the professional world, we are considered travel writers. The way you present your blog to potential companies should be in a very professional way.
In the subject, make sure to include the hostel name so they will know that the message is really meant for them. This will also give them the impression that somehow, you’ve read about what their company is all about.
Simple and easy: address the Marketing Manager with their first name. How will you know their names? Research. More often than not, company websites include the names of the point person. If in any case it’s nowhere to be found, use this as a salutation:
To The Marketing Manager: (Hotel Name).
What could be a good way to start your message? Present yourself, of course! When sending e-mails to people you’ve never worked with (or met) before, saying something about yourself will make them comfortable. Do it brief and after that, you can include the reason why you are writing to them. Here’s an example:
I am Trisha Velarmino, a travel journalist and I run the popular travel blog P.S. I’m On My Way. I am writing to you today in the hopes of securing a sponsored stay at your hotel in return for extra online exposure. I am looking to secure 3 nights and 4 days in your hotel from (date) to (date) and I would like to talk to you about featuring your hotel at my website.
We say, “popular travel blog” to give them an impression that you are one of the best that is currently within their proximity and that, it’s the best chance to grab the opportunity for collaboration. Please be honest and precise about the dates you are arriving so it will be easy for them to check availability. If you are a flexible traveler, it’s best if you adjust to their calendar.
Talk about your blog. I know it’s hard to compare but what makes you different? What makes you special? Educate the company about what types of articles do you write and what they can pick up from your content. I am not an adventure traveller, to be honest. However, I still write this:
P.S. I’m On My Way is a rapidly growing travel blog focused on empowering women to travel the world, providing useful travel tips, inspiration and advice to my specific demographic. As a Filipina journalist, my professional expertise sets me apart from other travel blogs. This blog is a trusted resource for travel tips and destination guides, and is interesting in presenting the best locations, attractions and accommodations in each area I visit. I have reviewed a lot of hotels/b&bs in South America and it helped them with their online presence. If you want to see samples, click (insert link). My website has a loyal following and a very engaged audience which can be attributed to my expertise in social media.
I wrote “My Website” on top of the second paragraph to make sure the Marketing Manager will have a clear idea of what I am doing. In this case, it is advisable to give links to the previous reviews you made for other hostels.
You cut off your first paragraph with the phrase “my expertise in social media.” Not discussing or articulating this on that paragraph will make them read more and more — because maybe, just maybe, they are really interested and are desperate for online exposure.
In the second paragraph, a continuity of the first, talk about your social media experience. How many followers do you have? Is your audience interactive? Let them know that you can really offer them something in terms of this field. See example below:
What I Can Offer You:
In exchanged for a sponsored stay, I can offer you the best advertising money can buy — word of mouth. You will receive:
A professionally written blog post featuring high quality photos dedicated my time with you, including a permanent link to your website and social media pages;
- Facebook photos, videos and status updates during my visit (8,000 + fans);
- Tweets during my visit (10,000+ followers);
- Instagram photos/videos during the visit; and
- TripAdvisor Review (I am a Senior Reviewer)
Additionally, I can also utilize my social media presence on YouTube, Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.
Important things to remember:
- Always provide a link to your website. I am pretty sure you know how to link your blog name to it’s URL. Remember that this is very important! Every time your blog name is mentioned, it should be anchored. Ex: “P.S. I’m On My Way is a rapidly growing travel blog focused on empowering women to travel the world, providing useful travel tips……………”
- Be mindful about copying/pasting. I remember sending this to 10 hotels in Cartagena, Colombia not minding about changing the subject and the salutation. Yes, I use the same e-mail format to all complimentary hotel stay transactions and I’ve learned my lesson about putting “Hi Karla!” to my salutation but the name of the person is Marina. I was sending it really fast so I didn’t have the chance to change some important information. I’ve learned my lesson and I am passing it to you as early as now — PROPER NOUNS are really important.