Why Luxury Hotels Are Under Siege From Instagram Poseurs

Top tier resorts now face a deluge of comp requests from alleged online influencers.

Instagram influencer Ayla Woodruff in Los Angeles. (Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images for The Enchanted Woods LA)
Getty Images for The Enchanted W

Instagram and other social media influencers can leverage their social media clout to travel the world, frequently enjoying luxury accommodations at very little personal cost. These elite personalities, who can blast a positive mention of a brand to millions of people, are usually personally invited by hotel brands to stay with them. But now wannabe Instagram influencers are increasingly trying to score the same deals, leaving luxury hotels scrambling to figure out which of the many requests for all-expense-paid vacations to grant. Kate Jones, marketing and communications manager at the Dusit Thani, a five-star resort in the Maldives told The Atlantic that her hotel gets at least six requests from influencers a day, usually through Instagram direct message. She said only about 10 percent of the requests she receives are worth even investigating.

But some hotels are so overwhelmed by the requests from self-described influencers that they have just opted out of the game altogether. In January, a luxury boutique hotel in Ireland banned all YouTubers and Instagram stars after a 22-year-old requested a free, five-night stay in exchange for exposure.

Influencers think that there is fundamental misunderstanding of the value exchange. Instagram has more than 800 million monthly active users, many of whom come for travel ideas, and influencers claim that the promotion they can offer hotels helps those brands reach new audiences. Though they are not totally incorrect, hotels are still trying to figure out guidelines for who they do—and don’t—welcome.

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