I often see disgruntled hostel owners posting "influencer wannabe" emails into various forums in order to vent. Their frustration lies in the fact that the emails are usually filled with nonsense like, "My Instagram has reached 48K followers in 2 days due to my influence. Your hostel could be the next one that I promote if only you give me a free room." Ugh! Get real.
It is clear that many of the emails are just form letters with only the hostel's name inserted as a kind of personalization. And once a hostel has received a dozen or so of these emails from different "influencers", possibly even a dozen per week, asking for a free stay, you can totally see why accommodation owners would jump on the rant-wagon.
However, some of those influencers are legit, do have a wide following, and the charismatic host can make your place look amaze-balls. A charming smiling host sitting in your hostel's BBQ space talking about all the great people and fun things to do at your hostel can convert a few travelers into booking with you. Think Nomadic Matt. He's been around forever and has a major following.
So, maybe don't write the influencer off too quickly.
Instead, what some hostels have done is to create policies around accepting influencers or bloggers. Possibly the best example I have come across is offering a refund to the blogger if there is X number of new reservations directly linked from their followers. This could be tracked by a name or a code the hostel and influencer have agreed on and has been given to their audience. The refund should only be paid out after the followers have stayed and paid for their stay, of course. Keep out the swindlers.
Another idea is for the owner to get in touch with a blogger/vlogger directly, rather than waiting for the influencer to make the first contact. In the videos below, we have included contact information in case you wanna reach out.
But the emails...
Chances are good that you have had enough with the "can I stay for free" emails. But instead of losing your temper at yet another wannabe, treat the email like any other repetitive request and have a set of "pre-written" responses to explain your influencer policy with only a couple of clicks. A respectful influencer would not have a problem with a proper policy like that, and will either comply or vanish.
Besides the selfie-heavy Instagram influencers, there are also travel vloggers who post on YouTube. Like Instagram, they have a dedicated following of subscribers and either have a channel that's exclusively about travel and hostels or they have stayed in a hostel and reported a positive experience in their video.
Personally, I prefer the YouTube vids over Instagram pix because a) the vids aren't so posh and polished. They feel more real. b) the videos aren't temporary stories. There is more shelf-life to YouTube Videos.
Christianne Risman (aka Backpacking Bananas) has 46K subscribers.
Mollie Bylett has 24K subscribers.
Travel Vloggers who stay in hostels:
Gabriel Traveler has 228K subscribers and has even featured some of our member hostels.
PsychoTraveller has 188K subscribers.
The Wandering Quinn 338 subscribers.
Backpack ME has 1000 subscribers A&Z are from India and Portugal. They have a website at http://www.bkpk.me .
Other Vloggers who mention hostels:
LIFE BY TAYLA has 777 subscribers. Tayla is currently based in Sydney, Australia.
Istiana Bestari has 11K subscribers.
Scotty Does has 11K subscribers https://twitter.com/ScottyDoes1
If you have other ideas to keep influencers influencing, please share them with us and other hostel managers. Also, if you know of some other awesome Vloggers or Hostel Instagrammers, please don't keep that a secret. Share with us in the comments below.
Also: if you are a travel and hostel vlogger, here's a message from Darren Overby from Pacific Tradewinds about how affiliate programme.