Revenge on the bloggers

A hotel owner in Dublin has sparked debate by sharing an email from a social influencer who asked him for a free stay in return for coverage via her Instagram and YouTube channels.

In the email, video blogger Elle Darby from Bath mentioned that she had almost 90,000 YouTube subscribers and 76,000 Instagram followers and proposed a ‘collaboration’, which meant receiving a free night’s stay at the owner’s award-winning ‘Charleville Lodge Hotel and White Moose Café’ in return for a review.

Getting something for free in exchange for coverage is commonplace in PR, from celebrities receiving free dresses for awards ceremonies, to journalists getting complementary weekend minibreaks with the view that they’ll write about it in their travel column. However, bloggers have long been criticised for their ‘brazen’ approach in getting things for free in exchange for exposure.

Instead of politely declining the blogger’s request, the hotel owner aggressively posted her initial email on his social media channels (incidentally he has more followers than the blogger) along with a scathing note relating to the blogger’s approach. He wrote, amongst many other things, ‘It takes a lot… to send an email like that, if not much self-respect and dignity. If I let you stay here in return for a feature in your video, who is going to pay the staff who look after you? Who is going to pay the housekeepers who clean your room?’.

Whilst not named in the post, the blogger Elle voluntarily exposed herself as the target by posting a video to YouTube with the title ‘I was exposed (SO embarrassing)’ where she revealed that she was the subject of the aggressive post and insisted she was within her rights to ask for a free stay, saying ‘I feel disgusting having to say this. As a 22-year-old girl who’s running her own business from her home, I don’t feel like I did anything wrong’.

In response to this video, the hotel and café owner has since posted to say that he has banned all bloggers from his venue. He wrote ‘The sense of entitlement is just too strong in the blogging community and the nastiness, hissy fits and general hate displayed after one of your members was not granted her request for a freebie is giving your whole industry a bad name. I never thought we would be inundated with negative reviews for the simple reason that somebody was required to pay for goods received or services rendered.”

What can we learn from this experience? We think both sides have a point. The owner didn’t have to launch such an attack on a woman adopting a commonplace approach in the industry. On the other hand, bloggers should do their research on potential collaborators. They need to ask themselves whether the venue would truly benefit from being talked about on their blog, and perhaps check whether they have done previous collaborations. The owner of the venue in question regularly launches attacks on his customers as part of an avant-garde (but no-doubt effective) marketing tactic. Elle should have been aware of and prepared for this.

Whilst bloggers left fuming at the hotelier’s approach have been leaving him negative reviews, there’s no doubt that his actions have boosted publicity for both his business and Elle’s video blog. In fact, the hotelier has since sent the blogger a fake invoice for publicity services rendered…

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