I’ve gotten quite a few emails in the past year from Inns I work with, and Inns I chat with online, asking me what I thought about solicitations from travel bloggers asking to do a feature on their B&Bs.
On first glance, that’s terrific, a travel blogger or writer wanting to do a piece on a B&B. Free advertising, right?
Well not free, because some of them are requesting free nights lodging, plus perks, some of them lots and lots of perks.
There was a terrific article that just came out this morning about 9 CRITERIA FOR SELECTING TRAVEL BLOGGERS, and in it they mention many of the things that an inn/B&B should be looking at when considering whether to host a travel blogger, especially one asking for freebies. While this article is talking about something different than stays in exchange for press, many of the same tenants apply.
In conjunction with this, I was forwarded yesterday, a solicitation email from a writer for Yahoo Yoices http://voices.yahoo.com/, formerly Associated Content (not to be confused with Associated Press), asking a friend who has an inn, for a stay there for two nights, with dinner at a local restaurant and a special offer for skiing included, in exchange for writing an article about them.
I thought it might be time to finish up this post.
I had previously reached out to several travel bloggers I know and respect, to ask for their input. They asked that their names remain confidential, as apparently travel bloggers and writers have some differing views on “perks” and what is kosher to ask for or receive in terms of favors.
Here were some suggestions they had about weeding out the gold from the chaff if they are asking for freebies.
Is there a guarantee that the article will be published?
Is the article they are writing, a feature piece, or a column that will be buried in on online section or in print format?
Is the article print only, web only or both?
Where have they been published before?
What’s their background? A writer with a background in Oceanography, but no experience writing for the travel industry, is not going to do your inn justice.
Have you looked (and have they provided) prior links to articles they have published?
Are they working for a reputable company/site? Some online articles are just a collection of link farms. Some are Pay to Post avenues, like the former Associated Content (now Yahoo Voices), where the writer gets paid on the basis of how much traffic they can generate, not necessarily concentrating on the quality of the traffic.
Where will the article be promoted? And if it’s online, for how long?
If the article is online, how long will it stay “live”, and if it does stay live, will it eventually be moved to gated content. Meaning it will only stay public for several weeks and then it moves to paid subscription content access only.
Any travel writer (online) worth their salt (according to my friends) can give you actual statistics about how many times an article has been read that they have previously written. Get some stats from them on other articles where they have featured B&Bs, and have them give you an actual copy of what the stats look like. Don’t just take their word that they got 50K hits on it.
Get some references from them of other B&Bs/Inns that they have done articles on, and call them up. Did they find it was worth it?
Check out their social media offerings? Do they have a niche? Do they have a following? Don’t go by numbers. Go by the quality of the followers. Anyone can buy fans or followers, it doesn’t make them influential.
Do you have the rights to use their article and any photos taken for the article in your own advertising?
I am going to also add that one of my travel writer friends said that no one who works for a quality lodging publication (online or off), needs to ask for freebies, unless they are offered by the lodging establishment. His comment was that most travel writers of value are paid well for their work, and that the ones out soliciting, were the little people who you won’t get much value from their articles.
When it comes right down it, each innkeeper has to evaluate whether the cost of giving a room night or nights away (plus possible perks), is going to equal the amount of free publicity/ press that you are going to get out of it.