How To Get Your First Sponsored Stay – Travel Bloggers

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Disclaimer: This article may include affiliate links. This translates to no extra cost to you but I get a referral bonus if you purchase via the link. 

I have been a travel blogger for almost 5 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:
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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.
How To Get Your First Sponsored Stay - Travel Bloggers
Our Own Spa, Freycinet, Coles Bay, Tasmania
 

Prepare your media kit:

 

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.

How To Get Your First Sponsored Stay - Travel Bloggers
Busselton Resort, Australia
 

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.

Always Respond

 
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.
 
How To Get Your First Sponsored Stay - Travel Bloggers
Taj Rebak, Langkawi . Photo Credit: Anil Menon
 

Concluding Note:

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.
Liked it, then pin it.
How To Get Your First Sponsored Stay - Travel Bloggers
How To Get Your First Sponsored Stay – Travel Bloggers

Booking Resources

Find some of my favorite resources I use for booking during my travels.

Book Your Flight

I am a Skyscanner fan when it comes to booking international flights. I use Makemytrip and Yatra for domestic flights.

Book Accommodation

Booking is my go to resource for booking accommodation. I also compare prices on Tripadvisor always.

Travel Insurance

As an Indian, I prefer ICICILombard and I am always insured when I am traveling outside India. In addition, I have used World Nomads for some of my trips.

Book Tours

I do go on a lot of day tours especially when I am traveling solo. Depending on convenience, my choices are Viator or Getyourguide.

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26 thoughts on “How To Get Your First Sponsored Stay – Travel Bloggers”

  1. Carmen Edelson

    Yes, a media kit is so important! I wish I read something like this back when I started pitching to hotels a couple years ago. Great post, thanks for sharing!

  2. Daniel Hester

    This is very much satisfied by the different info in this article. All the contents too good, can be very helpful for us. I love reading new post and I am always searching for helpful information like this. Travel Tips and Guide

  3. Ruthie Turner

    Thank you so much for this article! I started blogging in 2013 and just this year I decided to work more at it harder then ever!! It's hard to keep it all going especially when I have 2 jobs and doing online schooling. BUT, I have to pursue the passion I have.

    You have just motivated ME!

    Best,

    Ruthie

  4. Soumya Nambiar

    It is so nice to know that I have motivated someone. 🙂 Keep blogging. I work full time and study too. So I know how difficult it is.

  5. I’ve been blogging a long time, I have a big following , big figures. I don’t have a media kit and have never needed one. So I wonder if this advice is correct. I sinply add a couple of lines to the email with my total stats. followers. Also, free stays are a PAIN. I travel because I want to travel, if you travel to get free stuff you ruin the experience for yourself. We’ve just done 5 days in luxury hotels in Thailand out of a 6 week trip, quite honestly, I’d rather pay, the amount of work involved in promoting a hotel is huge and you need to do a really good job to not spoil it for future bloggers. You see this a lot, brands work with bloggers and get poor return, then won’t work with bloggers again. A lot of blggers fake their stats ( buy followers etc) and get no return for the client., it spoils it for us. So anyway, we fully fund our own travel, don’t do press trips, rarely accept free stays ( they approach us, we never chase them) and make a living through the blogs. We earn the money to pay for the trips. Just don’t think of getting “free stuff” as the be all and end all of being a travel blogger. It’s about deliverring.

    1. It is a good thing that you have a big following, Alyson. I am still a novice when it comes to blogging. I have been blogging only for less than 15 months now and this was written from a perspective of a novice blogger.
      I agree with you on some of your points. We have to always commit ourselves and ensure that we provide the best to all our clients and readers. In many cases, people are just after the free stuff. What they don’t realise is that nothing is free in life. You have to work to get stuff in life. Since this was written before my first sponsored trip, I was still learning. Now I know how much hard work goes in promoting every place I stayed at.
      In my case, I have been traveling for a while now. I still fund 80%of my travels from my other job while my blog is growing. I hate when people buy followers. It really spoils it for people like us, who are trying to make our difference in the blogging world through hard work and uniqueness,

  6. I blog quite often and I genuinely thank you for your content.
    This article has truly peaked my interest.
    I will bookmark your site and keep checking for new details about once per week.
    I opted in for your RSS feed too.

  7. This is indeed a great article m:) Very helpful tips. It would have more great if you could have added like a small template kind of email which you sent to hotels / resorts. New bees would get some idea on how to reach!
    This is just a suggestion 🙂 otherwise this post is bang on.. Keep up the great work!

    1. Soumya Nambiar

      I am pretty sure if you Google, you will find the templates. In my opinion, it works differently based on your reach and influence.

  8. This is my first visit to your blog! This is my first comment here, so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading your articles. Your blog provided us useful information. You have done an outstanding job.

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