Even though I am sponsored to travel on a regular advice now, my advice to all newbie bloggers is not to get into travel blogging for the sake of free stays. Nothing is free and you will have to work really hard to make it in the travel blogging industry.
I have been a travel blogger for almost 7 years now. Even though my first travel post was in June 2015, I did not take it seriously until August 2015. That is when I went and got my domain registered. The funny thing is that I never took it seriously for a long time. After getting into travel blogging, I realized that I am one of the few who got into it for the love of writing and for keeping my friends and family updated.
The thing is I have a permanent job and I travel only when I find time and resources to fund my trip. Many people advised me to get more serious and try to get some revenue from my blog. I have been pushing it for so long and I finally decided to take the plunge. I definitely needed some help in terms of funding for my 5 weeks long Europe trip.
For my Europe trip, I am working with multiple hotels, city tourism boards and tour operators in exchange for discounted/free accommodation, city cards, discounted tours etc. But let me make one thing clear. I am still spending a lot of my own money but I am trying to keep the costs to a minimum by doing such collaborations.
Also by doing this, I have the opportunity to stay in some nice luxury hotels for free/discounted media rates, which I could not have afforded otherwise. So how did I go about this? Read on to find out how to get your first sponsored stay for travel bloggers:
Table Of Contents
How to get your first sponsored stay for travel bloggers
Prepare the mail you are going to send:
You need to set the expectations right. You should always treat your client as the top-most priority and frame your mail based on what you can offer to them in exchange and what you expect from them. It could be anything but this email sets the precedent for the entire contract. Also, the email should be catchy enough and it should contain the dates for when you are looking for. Highlight points like who is your target audience and how engaged they are. I preferred to write a half-page mail describing all the above things.
Prepare your media kit – How to get hotels to sponsor you
I made this mistake and I wish I had known this before. Actually, I kind of knew that I needed a media kit but I decided to ignore it due to laziness. So I prepared this really interesting email and I tested it by sending it to a bunch of hotels and tourism boards. I waited for a few days and I did not receive even a single reply. That is when I decided to investigate on Google what I did wrong. I then realized my mistake.
What is a media kit, you may ask? Well, let us just say that it is very important for us, travel bloggers. If you don’t have one, create one now. It is very easy to create using Google Docs and I had one ready in less than 2 hours. This is where you put general statistics and make sure that your media kit is all colourful and catches your client’s eye. Since mine is a comparatively newer blog, it means that my statistics are only a little better than average and I also have comparatively lesser number of followers. But instead of focusing on that, I decided to focus on the positives like all the accolades I have received in such a short span of time.
Also never lie about your stats since anyone can verify them online these days.
So a combination of my media kit and my carefully drafted mail worked in my favour. Remember that you are a brand and you need to market it in a way that you are selling your brand.
Emailing your preferred clients
Create a list of clients you would like to work with. I went online and after hours of research had my own list. It will depend on your niche and your readers. If you are a backpacker, then you would have better luck with backpacker hostels. If you prefer a combination of budget/luxury accommodation like me, then you need to prepare your list based on this.
Every hotel website will have a ‘Contact Us’ section and this is where you can find Press/Marketing contact. If you do your research right, then tourism boards will also have a similar section. There are two ways of going about this. If you want to send a mail to everyone (mass mailing), then you can go ahead and do that. In my case, I preferred sending the mail only to a couple of hotels per destination. I went through their reviews on TripAdvisor and Booking.com and selected only the ones which fitted my niche. I have seen that bigger hotels have more budgets and hence the chance of acceptance is higher.
I loved this article by Julie on how she did it. I loved the tip about ‘All Opinions are My own ‘Location’ blog’. (However, I did not find much success with this.)
Waiting for an Answer:
This is the hardest part. If you are a newbie blogger like me, chances of rejection are higher. Also, you may never hear from some hotels. If they do reply to your email, then it will be within 3-4 business days. In some cases, they will offer press rates that will still be too high for you to afford.
In my case, this is what I observed. Usually, if you send emails to 10 hotels, then 5 will not reply, 3 will reject outright and you will get a positive reply only from 2. These stats may vary based on the popularity of your blog.
Even if it is a rejection email, respond to the hotel. Some of the hotels were really rude but that does not matter. You have to be your charming best and you should always display professionalism.
Many of the hotels are busy during peak season and hence they will not be in a position to sponsor you. This is something you should always keep in mind. I found it more difficult to find sponsored stays in places like Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona etc. You always can book a hostel through Hostelworld in such cases. Also if you are a member, you get good deals on sites like Hotels.com.
It is definitely hard and you need to do hours of research before you find that perfect hotel. But once you find someone willing to sponsor you, even if it is just a part of your stay, you will finally have some money to spare. That big smile on your face once someone accepts your offer is also worth all your hard work. You have nothing to lose and in my opinion, you should definitely give it a try.
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