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Get a complimentary hotel stay as a travel blogger: how to start?

TRAVEL BLOGGING AND HOTEL PARTNERSHIPS MADE EASY. Discover your ultimate guide on pitching hotels for collaborations and learn all the strategies that actually work right now. Being up to date with the latest marketing and travel blogging trends is the key to success and here's where you'll find it. #travelblogger #onlinebusiness #travelWorking with hotels and landing a complimentary hotel stay in your favorite travel destinations as a travel blogger is awesome.

It’s even more awesome when you take it to the next level and collaborate with hotels on exciting paid partnerships using your travel blog, Instagram account, youtube or any other our your influencer marketing tools.

I’d never thought it was possible until I MANAGED TO LAND MY FIRST PAID HOTEL PARTNERSHIP AT THE 4TH MONTH OF FULL-TIME BLOGGING. 

And right now, when pitching 10 hotels for a complimentary hotel stay I GET ON AVERAGE 8 REPLIES AND 6 OF THEM ARE A YES.

But it’s not so simple getting there.

You need to use the strategy that a very few bloggers seem to understand. This is exactly where you’ll start to learn and use it, to become more successful than most travel bloggers out there.

It’s no secret that in this day and age travel bloggers working with hotels or doing an epic collab with brands from travel, fashion or any other industry can do wonders for these businesses while having fun themselves by doing the work they love.

In your case hopefully - being a travel blogger.

But let’s start from the beginning. You’re a travel blogger wanting to start working with hotels. You’ve heard that a lot of bloggers get paid to travel and review hotels.

So you’re wondering how to get sponsored to travel like that or at least how to land a complimentary hotel stay.

If so, it’s awesome and you’re finally in the right place!

Working with hotels is my favorite part of travel blogging! I love it, I’ve studied the art of it for 2 years and I’m going to share with you what works and what doesn’t!

BY FOLLOWING THE HOTEL PITCHING CHECKLIST YOU’RE MAKING SURE YOU WON’T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKES THAT MOST BLOGGERS ARE MAKING

So here’s how you start…

UNDERSTANDING WHAT A TRAVEL BLOGGER - HOTEL PARTNERSHIP IS ALL ABOUT (NOT WHAT IT USED TO BE)

The most important thing in terms of landing a free hotel stay as a travel blogger is to understand what a travel blogger - hotel partnership is all about right now in 2018/ 2019.

I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that there’s A LOT of info out these teaching how to collab with hotels, how to pitch for free stays in return of a hotel review etc.

But guess what? 99.9% of that info is useless and will kill your chances to successfully work with hotels just because the info is outdated.

Influencer marketing and the way how hotels must approach their customers to attract them is changing and if you’re not on top of the latest trends, you’re not in the game.

So my first advice is to never again rely on outdated tips about working with hotels or brand collaborations that are created before 2018.

Here’s why!

1.There are so many bad examples out there tainting the word “travel blogger” when it comes to working with hotels and getting free hotel stays.

People tend to see these kinds of collabs in a way that travel bloggers are taking advantages of businesses and looking for a free vacation.

And there’s a legit reason for it - some travel bloggers are like that and act like that, by pitching hotels and offering a careless “mention of the hotel on their social media” in return.

If your pitch to the hotel will sound like you are just looking for a free place to stay, the hotel will not agree to work with you.

So the first thing you need to understand is that travel blogger - hotel collaborations should always be a win-win type of deal.

Meaning that while you’re the one getting a complimentary hotel experience out of a collab, a hotel should get something equally valuable in return.

Whether it’s a content you created, a promotion you did for them or any other beneficial things you manage to agree on.

By following this rule you’re not only doing good for the hotel but also making sure your blog grows in the direction of being successful and profitable.

2. A free hotel stay in return for an honest hotel review - avoid!

Honest hotel review articles might have worked a few years ago but they don’t anymore. People are not interested to read them.

Here I’m referring to the fact that most travel bloggers have treated bogger - hotel collaborations in the following way - a blogger get’s to stay in a hotel for free and in return, they write an honest review of their stay.

They tend to describe how nice they were welcomed, how big and soft was the bed where they slept and how insanely delicious was the breakfast.

But honestly - nobody wants to read those things!

So in order to land a hotel collaboration right now and create value for the hotel you have to be more creative than simply offering hotel a review article.

The expectations of travelers are changing in a way that no one is looking for less than unique experiences anymore. It's not enough for hotels to offer just a room anymore. They have to offer an experience.

And this is exactly where you come in and help hotels bring this experience in front of the right audience. This kind of influencer marketing is currently the most powerful tool of persuasion.  And quite often one creative photo can do so much more than a long article.

So whether you’re traveling to a destination for holidays and just looking to lower your travel costs with a free hotel stay or you're looking to build a professional hotel collaboration portfolio for your blog, remember that a hotel collab is a business deal and you have to deliver value for the hotel as well as your readers.

And it has to be done in an effective way otherwise you’re not getting more brand collaborations and your blog is not going to be as big success as you want it to be.

Get a complimentary hotel stay as a travel blogger: where to start?

FINDING THE RIGHT HOTEL FOR A PARTNERSHIP

There are a few things that you really need to consider before pitching a hotel you want to work with.

If you think about the following points first, it will significantly increase your chances of the hotel agreeing to provide you with a complimentary hotel stay in exchange for promotion on your blog.

For a successful blogger & hotel collaboration, it's very important to pick the right hotels to work with.

This is super important because even if you’re popular, talented, creating a killer content and your marketing skills are out of this world, you’ll not be able to land a hotel partnership if you can’t manage to find the right hotel.

They will simply say NO.

By the right hotels, I mean the ones that fit your travel style and are actually interested to work with bloggers. So let’s break it down how to find each of those.

Get a complimentary hotel stay as a travel blogger: where to start?

◽ Think of hotels that fit your travel style

The simple formula is this - if you are a luxury travel blogger, go for luxury or boutique hotels. If you are a backpacker, go for budget hotels and hostels.

In the process of determining the right hotels for you, think about your travel style and your audience.

What kind of travel experiences your readers or viewers are interested in? What kind of hotels they would want to discover?

And then think about the hotel where you’d want to stay. Are your readers likely to want to stay there too?

If you’re blogging about budget travel, Four Seasons resorts will probably not be the right choice as your readers who love your budget travel content will not be interested in learning about super expensive 5* resorts.

On the other hand, if you’re blogging, for example, about sustainable travel experiences, pitching an eco-friendly hotel like Mai Chau Eco Lodge would be a perfect choice.

Your readers will love it and that way you’ll be able to provide value not only to your readers but also to the hotels and yourself.

◽ Think of what kind of hotels are interested to work with bloggers

The relatively easiest way of getting a hotel to agree on working with you is to pitch hotels which are open to working with travel bloggers.

That way you know they understand the value of influencer marketing and really want to get the word out about them. So all you have to do is approach them and offer to help with that.

Now you might be thinking how to know which hotels have worked with bloggers before?

There’s a simple method that I use to determine that. I’ve shared it step by step in my eBook “ How to pitch hotels for collaboration”.

Approaching hotels that haven’t worked with bloggers and influencers in the past is just as correct.

The only difference is that getting them on board with your collaboration might take longer, as they might need more convincing about the value of such collab.

Get a complimentary hotel stay as a travel blogger: where to start?

◽ Understanding what can you offer in return for a complimentary hotel stay

Before you start pitching your favorite hotels for a free hotel stay, you must think first what kind of value you can offer them in return.

Thinking of this before you approach them allows you to craft the perfect email that you’re going to send them. It’s the kind of email that will not get lost between hundreds of other blogger pitches.

Your email will be the one that hotel marketing will read and feel tempted to reply. There are a few tricks how to make it happen, and I’ll help you get to them.

You have to be aware of the fact that hundreds of bloggers are pitching hotels for collaborations daily.

I have quite a few friends in hotel marketing management from the previous collaborations that we’ve done and one of them shared an interesting fact with me.

She’s a manager of a mid-size boutique hotel in Austria and she told me how many pitches from bloggers she received daily.

What’s the number you’re guessing? 5? 10?

It’s 50! A small hotel receives 50 pitches on average per day! Crazy right? And the big popular hotels get way over 100 pitches from bloggers PER DAY!

At this point, I don’t want you to get discouraged and think that if so many bloggers are your competition for the same hotel you don’t stand a chance.

It’s absolutely not like that if you know what you’re doing and how to offer value to the hotel. And that’s exactly I’m here to help you with.

So how to stand out over everybody with what you offer to the hotel?

The average pitch from a travel usually goes along the lines of creating an article about their stay, adding photos and throwing in a social media share.

Hotels like to work with creative bloggers. So try to come up with a creative idea. It doesn’t have to be a review article. It can be a photo story of the hotel, your experiences, the city or the country where it’s located.

If you have a specific edge or a travel style that stands out over the overall 'travel' topic, for example, 'eco travel' or 'travel with kids', use that to make your article and the rest of the content idea more unique.

Or how about offering them two different articles?

Check out ideas of hotel articles from our previous hotel collaborations HERE and hotel collab photo ideas on my Instagram @the.travelleaf.

It should give you an idea that you can develop further to match your own style.

Also, think of the strongest social media channels you have apart from your blog.

Is it your Facebook account or Instagram?

Think of the unique content that you can create especially for those channels.

How about a Facebook video? Or a specific Instagram post or two with a caption that people will find useful, fun or even mind-blowing?

Get awesome content ideas and way more around pitching hotels by SIGNING UP to my free express video course of “How to make $ 5K from hotel partnerships”.

SECURE YOUR ACCESS TO THE COURSE NOW!

The course is free and exclusively available only to Travel Blogging Boss email subscribers.

CRAFTING THE PERFECT PITCH

Once you’ve figured out which hotels are the right ones for you and thought about what could you offer them as part of your collaboration, it’s time to create the perfect pitch.

This is the next most important step after choosing the right hotel for the collaboration. The content of the email you’re going to send the hotel is going to play an important role to land a collaboration.

A FEW THINGS TO MAKE SURE YOU DO IN TERMS OF CRAFTING AN AWESOME EMAIL ARE:

1. Sending the right email to the right person;

2. Making the email with just the right amount of information to have the hotel interested but not to overwhelm them;

3. Including a crucial detail that will guarantee that you'll get a reply from them;

4. Creating a smart email sequence that will land you the deal.

Before I discovered how to do all these things mentioned above I was one of those bloggers who would send out 100 email pitches and then hope that at least one hotel replies. Then 1 hotel would actually reply and say “NO, thank you!”

This is an average result between all the travel bloggers out there pitching hotels for free stays.

Since I crafted my own pitching formula that I’m going to share with you here, I’d send out 10 pitches and get at least 8 replies.

Not all collabs always work out, but on average at least 6 out of those 10 hotels are ready to work with me.

Get a complimentary hotel stay as a travel blogger: where to start?

◽ How to know if you’re sending the right email to the right person?

The right person to approach when pitching a hotel is their Marketing Manager.

When looking for hotel contacts your goal should be the find the direct email of their marketing manager, as that’s the person who deals with travel bloggers and hotel promotions.

Finding the general email address of the hotel will be a much easier task, as those are usually available on the hotel’s website.

However, when you send an email to general email it’s usually received by reception or hotel concierge desk. By doing this you’re risking that your email will get lost.

More often than not receptionist don’t forward emails to the marketing and leave them unanswered.

◽ What to do, if you don’t have a direct email from the marketing manager?

There are two simple ways how to find it. Just ask the hotel by using their public email address or even better - find the hotel on Facebook or Instagram and message them there.

The text you should send them must be short and sweet. I usually go with something like this:

 

Hello!

My name is Anete Ilmete and I’m the creator of TheTravelLeaf.com. I'd like to find out how can I contact the marketing manager at The Plaza Hotel? Could you please provide me with their email address?

 

Looking forward to hearing from you soon!

Best regards,

Anete Ilmete

 

Once you’ve got the right email address you have to make sure that the next email that you’ll be sending to the marketing manager of a hotel is exactly how it should be.

 

◽ What’s the right amount of information to include in a hotel pitch?

When sending a pitch to a hotel or any other business, remember this:

People tend to pay attention only to the first two sentences of an unknown email. If it doesn’t catch their interest by then, it’s GAME OVER.

So make sure you get to the point right from the beginning.

I’ve tested tens of different email approaches just to find the right one that works for me perfectly.

The structure of it is following:

 

Email subject: To To Sales & Marketing Manager

(This helps to make sure that your email really gets to the right person)

Email body:

1. A simple greeting and a short introduction of yourself.

My name is Anete Ilmete. I’m a travel journalist/ blogger/ photographer (enter anything that fits you) and the author of blog TheTravelLeaf.com.

I have a wide experience working with hotels, concentrating exclusively on boutique hotels. (Let them understand right away that you are the right person to work with them by pointing out a detail that is something common for both of you.)

I’m emailing you because I am planning to visit Thailand soon. We are working on creating materials about tourism/ food/ culture/ spa (enter anything that fits you) options in Bangkok.

I noticed your hotel and am very interested to stay at 'Hotel Name' to feature you in our material. Dates are 2nd of May for 2 nights. Do you have any availability?

(Asking for availability is the KEY QUESTION that no manager will refuse to answer, as their main priority is to serve their customers and sell rooms. So this way you can easily get the conversation going.)

I’d also like to find out do you collaborate with travel journalist/ bloggers/ photographers (write the title you gave you in the first line of the email)?

 

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Best regards,

Anete Ilmete

 

This is the kind of email that will get the conversation started with the hotel.

 

PLUS, you’ll know straight away if they work with bloggers or influencers. Also, you’ll find out if they actually have an availability for your dates.

The next thing you need to do in to plan an email sequence for a further discussion.

After you hear back from the hotel with their availability, the next email should be your actual pitch with listing the things you want to offer them in return fora complimentary hotel stay.

Be specific and confident with everything you’re offering them and everything you want in return.

Don’t include long texts, just specific bullet points. At the end of the email offer to send them more information about your blog, statistic, audience upon their request.

If they do request more info, send that in the next email.

 

IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR HELP ON CRAFT THE NEXT EMAILS, I’VE SHARED THE EXACT EMAIL TEMPLATES THAT I USE IN FURTHER DISCUSSIONS IN MY LATEST EBOOK

“HOW TO PITCH HOTELS FOR A COLLABORATION”.

➯ CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT OUT.

 

Pitching hotels for a collaboration, whether it’s in return for a complimentary hotel stay or a paid deal, is a science.

It’s something that you can learn and perfect to your own style.

However, it will never work if you’re not on top of current marketing trends and things that are hot in the hospitality industry.

This is exactly the reason why most of the old courses teaching you how to pitch hotels doesn’t work anymore and will keep you from landing deals instead of helping you.

 

IF YOU WANT TO BE ON TOP OF THE GAME AND ACTUALLY KNOW

how to land hotel partnerships,

how to create killer emails that always gets answered

how to grow enough experience to have hotels pay you for your services

 

It will cover everything from how to start with pitching to landing 5k paid deals. The course is FREE and will only accessible to my email list subscribers.

So JOIN NOW and learn how to stand out in travel blogging business and make your blog wildly successful!