Maybe she should’ve picked a marketer with less personality. Recently, social media influencer Elle Darby offered to stay at a hotel for free with her boyfriend so that the destination could gain brand awareness due to exposure to her followers.
The White Moose Café and Charleville Lodge, ahem, declined. The Dublin marketer’s response went viral and the brand is continuing to have fun with the controversy.
The hotel is the subject of numerous newspaper articles and many social media mentions. (Full disclosure: Many mainstream media organizations will accept free accommodations in order to write about a hotel. Not all do, however, because they view it as a conflict of interest.)
While influencers and marketers gain from partnerships that make sense, hotel owner and manager Paul Stenson determined this one most certainly did not. And he didn’t base it on the fact that his business and he have far more followers than Darby. He just didn’t like that she asked for something for free and he runs a business. He’s provided influencers free items — like food — but not if they ask for them.
His full response to her — which he posted on Facebook — is below this article, but the upshot is this:
P.S. The answer is no.
Since that exchange, White Moose has created merchandise, a contest for fans of #BloggerGate to win a free stay at the hotel (yes, really) and excluded blogger/influencers from even paying to stay at the hotel due to the Darby controversy.
Darby’s also gotten mileage out of it. Her two most recent videos are about the White Moose situation. The first one showed 2.2 million views and the one she posted on Tuesday had 116,000 views as of Wednesday night.
She says she understands receiving a “no,” but didn’t like the tone. Though “abusive” messages are not okay, she doesn’t say those messages are coming from White Moose.
Perhaps she should’ve researched the brand a bit more first? Reading any of its social media feeds, the first thing that does show from the brand is snark:
“The White Moose Café is the only 5-Michelin-Star restaurant on planet earth. We specialise in high-carb, low-protein meals. We don’t do decaf coffee, non-alcoholic beer or gluten-free dishes, as we firmly believe that you only live once.”
But under awards, the Facebook page says: “Voted Best Café in Ireland 2016, by our staff.”
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.
Paul Stenson's full response to Elle Darby, as posted on Facebook. (Visually, there are redactions on-screen, including her name):
Dear Social Influencer (I know your name but apparently it’s not important to use names),
Thank you for your email looking for free accommodation in return for exposure. It takes a lot of balls 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? The waiters who serve you breakfast? The receptionist who checks you in? Who is going to pay for the light and heat you use during your stay? The laundering of your bed sheets? The water rates? Maybe I should tell my staff they will be featured in your video in lieu of receiving payment for work carried out while you’re in residence?
Lucky for us, we too have a significant social media following. We have 186k followers on our two Facebook pages, an estimated 80k on our Snapchat, 32k on Instagram and a paltry 12k on our Twitter, but Jesus Christ, I would never in a million years ask anyone for anything for free. I also blog a bit (www.paulvstenson.com), which as far as I’m aware is another way of saying “write stuff on the internet”. The above stats do not make me any better than anyone else or afford me the right to not pay for something everyone else has to pay for.
In future, I’d advise you to offer to pay your way like everyone else, and if the hotel in question believes your coverage will help them, maybe they’ll give you a complimentary upgrade to a suite. This would show more self-respect on your part and, let’s face it, it would be less embarrassing for you. Here is a little video I produced which you may learn from: http://bit.ly/2mKTDTD
P.S. The answer is no.
Related story: Influencer Marketing for Hotels (Infographic)