Should Influencers Stop Asking For Free Trips, Because Covid? [Roundup]

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. How about this approach to so-called travel influencers–no free trips; instead, pay up like everybody.
    Other than those who need to live vicariously through the blogs of travel influencers, who really reads their self-absorbed blogs?

    Frankly, when I have perused other blogs beyond “View from the Wing,” I have noticed far too many errors in what they purport to know. Ironically, when I have attempted to correct their gross mistakes, it is not posted, apparently in deference to the transport company providing the freebie.

    Most notorious have been the travel influencers who write on Amtrak. For example, when such influencers have recently made a big deal of Amtrak’s Acelas taking seat reservation by evidencing a total lack of history when the railroads were taking such reservations in pre-computer days using paper lists on lazy susan-type spindles.

  2. ’80 percent of influencers are reporting higher engagement with their followers since the pandemic began.’ Yeah because everyone has travel withdrawal and limited alternatives entertainment due to C19. Many should been using their platform and recapping content of places that worked with them in the past when times were better to help those places to survive, then they’ll have goodwill built when those businesses are in a position to budget marketing later. 80% are leechers who I believe could be replaced with a social media intern for a fraction and often promote questionable businesses; the travel industry is better off without them.

  3. They’re not influencers. They’re scamming leaches. The sooner they’re out living under overpasses the better.

  4. Skift is a behind the times. Most of us now ask for a cheque, often in the form of guaranteed ad spend so the money is indirect, to take a review trip.

    The truth is that some hotels and airlines think big bloggers are a soft touch. The coverage we give will rank first page on Google – these hotels are usually paying $10k per month to a claptrap SEO agency to fail to deliver what we can give them organically. There are plenty of cases where an article on my site has driven six figures worth of business.

    And yet places think we will give up an employee for 3-4 days for free, and even pay their travel costs, when the entire output from those 3-4 days will be one article. Get real.

  5. I would think that travel suppliers monitor their returns. When I watch a 25-30 year Youtuber, staying at the Soneva Fushi resort for 4-5 days, I think the supplier must be a sucker or desperate. Those Youtubers’ followers fit a demographic similar to themselves. How many 25 year-olds can afford a $1000/night resort?

    What really disturbs me, is when one of these influencers post detailed trip installments, but glosses over places they stay or airlines they fly, when that supplier did not give them a comp. My impression is that they think that their followers are too stupid to realize what they are doing.

    I am glad the gravy train is over for these cheapskates! The travel suppliers are better off without these parasites.

  6. I have to confess to being no fan of influencers and their ilk. The biggest problem is that there’s no regulation or standardization so any idiot and their cousin can call themselves one, then push for a bunch of freebies. Back in the day when I was a full time travel agent, I had industry standard IATA and other identity cards to show that I wasn’t some scammer. I think that a similar system would at least remove some of the less reputable people.

  7. I’d think that hotels would have the time to reach out to influencers who have had an actual positive influence on their resort/property/business in the past and offer them a freebie in exchange for a post or advertisement.
    I don’t think it’ll work the other way around where the influencer would contact the business.

  8. Prior to COVID, I’d not paid much attention to influencers; but during to lockdown have had a chance to view some on YOUTUBE. Seriously, you’d be hard-pressed to find a bunch of bigger morons ( perhaps other than those sufficiently idiotic to be influenced or swayed by them)
    Regardless of the product being reviewed (travel, consumers goods, etc), there are common themes in the presentations: they usually open with an interminable monologue about why it’s been so long since the last offering , sometimes concurrent with fumbling with the camera, but always involving tediously extraneous personal stuff .
    In respect of language: it appears to be mandatory for them to get “you guys” into every 30 seconds of the video. ‘Amazing’, ‘incredible’ and ‘unbelievable’ feature heavily. “I’m not gonna lie” and “these bad boys” also figure prominently.
    This generation is going to have their fingers on the nuclear buttons. It’s truly scary.

  9. Simple: stop giving so-called “influencers” free *anything* — they shouldn’t be giving the influencers anything the first place!

  10. I have to agree with JohnB,

    Let the influencers pimp t-shirts, handbags, hoop earrings, gel nails, phones, sunglasses, Converse and Chipotle.

    The Gen-Y, Gen-Zers can probably afford those items or put it on Daddy’s CC without raising an eyebrow. Doubt that Daddy’s going to spring for F/J seats or OW bungalows for 99% of the IG followers. Perhaps offspring of Asian/ME wealthy parents might be a different demographic.

    I wonder if the Airlines think that “The Points Guy” will generate revenue pax in F/J versus award tix in F/J .

  11. The dirty little secret. It just isn’t bloogers or Instagram users. A lot of journalists from reputable newspapers and magazines get all-expenses-paid trips to “learn” about a destination, hotel, etc. Needless to say that newspaper or magazine almost always runs a story. Most never disclose the clear conflict of interest. I think only the New York Times prohibits its journalists from taking such trips, though freelancers sometimes lie. At least the Financial Times discloses it.

  12. And TPG is probably the worst violator. You don’t think Hilton, Hyatt. Marriott and the airlines have TPG’s senior faces flagged? Sure the kinds sometimes have subpar experiences and write about it, but anyone who thinks TPG is “news” is kidding themselves. TPG is a travel credit card pimp masquerading as news.

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