Portland's Ace Hotel is built on a brand of being cool. Social-media "influencers" also build their brands on being cool.
What's cooler than being cool? Getting a discounted hotel room.
A recent report in The Atlantic says hotel chains across the world are begrudgingly figuring out how to process the hundreds of social-media influencer requests they now get—asking, essentially: "Will you give me a free stay if I post photos on my Instagram feed?"
Among the fun tidbits in the Atlantic report is this: The Ace Hotel chain, which has a popular location in downtown Portland, has decided to just standardize the influencer request process with an online form.
"We do not offer complimentary stays in exchange for social media or blog coverage," the form reads, "but we'll be happy to work on a discounted rate with you, depending on dates and availabilities." (Yep, the Ace location on Portland's Southwest Harvey Milk Street is one of the standard request options.)
Ace Hotel did not immediately respond to WW's request for comment. But other chain executives told The Atlantic that the number of legitimate requests they receive from influencers is very small. (What they mean by "legitimate" is a matter of interpretation, but a social-media user with a large enough following can generate a lot of free advertising for a hotel or resort.)
"Everyone with a Facebook these days is an influencer," Kate Jones, a communications and marketing director for a resort in the Maldives, told The Atlantic. "People say, I want to come to the Maldives for 10 days and will do two posts on Instagram to like 2,000 followers. Others send vague one-line emails, like 'I want to collaborate with you,' with no further explanation. These people are expecting five to seven nights on average, all inclusive."
In January, a hotel in Ireland reached its breaking point and decided to ban influencers requesting free stays.
While the "I'm really cool, look, please give me free stuff" pitch is appealing, Portland Instagram influencers say building legitimate clout is not as easy as it looks.