Due to the length of ‘Secrets for Traveling for FREE and Building Your Travel Internet Business’, we’ve split it up into chapters.
Now you know what you need and a basic idea of how you are going to sell it. This chapter will focus on the steps to take in getting complimentary sleeping arrangements for yourself and for whoever is traveling with you. Depending on your business and the type of content you produce, you may want to promote accommodations. These can be hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, camping grounds, cruise ships, or any other subtype of these.
In the beginning of Davidsbeenhere.com, I would book us complimentary stays at hotels for which we made promotional HD videos. My offer was simple: I would make each hotel a professional quality video showcasing its amenities in exchange for one or two rooms for a certain number of nights. Later on my offer began including three months of free advertising on my site in form of a banner with the hotel’s logo and/or contact information. Most hotels would send me the banner and I would put it on my site, but some hotels never did. Either way, I quickly came to realize that the offers I made to the hotels had to involve more exposure for them.
Presently I create digital city guides for every city I visit. Only one hotel is featured in each of my guides, which is the one I recommend to my subscribers in a section of the guide called “Our Hotel Pick.”
If you also decide to take the exclusive route, you will be limited to a certain number of nights you can stay. I usually do not book more than 4 nights. If for any reason I do require extra, I make sure to contact the hotel manager who I had previously spoken with about adding the extra nights. Sometimes this is not a problem, other times they can only offer me more nights at a discounted rate (e.g. press rate.) If you are not doing a single hotel selection for your business, contact as many hotels as you can in order to get as many days you need in a city. This will require you to switch hotels twice, maybe 3 times. Personally, 4 nights is a long time to stay in most cities unless you are planning to visit a large one (e.g. New York City, Paris, London, or Rome.) In these cases, you may need 6 to 8 nights. Make sure the hotels you contact are in an area conducive to your business. If you have the choice, do not book a hotel on the edge of town if you need to be near the center during the day.
A quick word on hostels and your commitment to what you promise: if you are part of the backpacking world then this should be easier for you than it was for me. Generally hostels do not cost very much to book and so a free stay is cheap relative to staying at a five-star boutique hotel. Before you read any more of this book, ask yourself how you will be promoting this business and how will the information reach a significant number of people. It could be that up until this point you do not have many viewers, subscribers, or clients. I always say, “Fake it until you make it!” Please do not misunderstand; I am not advising you to deceive the hotels you contact. I am just saying that you need to know what you want and know how to get it. This means that you may not currently have all that much experience with promoting hotels, but you are committed to providing them what you promise. It also means that you will be staying at the hotel in a strictly professional capacity, and you are there as part of your job. Hotels are a great place for relaxing and networking, but if you are planning to book a hotel at no-cost, then fail to deliver your side of the agreement, maybe this isn’t right for you. Remember, when the hotel manager knows you are coming he/ she will usually alert the staff, and so hotel employees will all be aware of why you are there and what exactly you will be doing.
Front Desk: Good morning this is Hotel X. How may I transfer your call?
You: Hello, may I please speak to the marketing director for the hotel?
Front Desk: Yes of course. Who may I ask is calling?
You: My name is _______________and I have a travel company. I would like to speak with him/her about featuring the hotel in my (article, blog, guide, etc.) of (city name).
(This is when you should say exactly all the mediums of exposure you are offering whether it be a city guide, article, interview, etc).
Hotel: Ok, yes one minute please. His name is Ignacio (Get the name of the manager from the receptionist and write it down. If the receptionist does not tell you up front it is best to ask).
Marketing Director: Yes hello
You: Good morning/ afternoon Ignacio, my name is (your name). I have an Internet travel business and I travel the world visiting the best hotels, restaurants, and attractions. I will be in (city name) in a few weeks and I would like for your hotel to be part of my project. (Be sure to mention if you heard about the hotel from another source- e.g. a tourism board contact).
Marketing Director: Ok does this cost anything?
You: There is no financial obligation for your hotel. The only thing I/we ask for is your hotel to allow us to feature it in an exclusive way, specifically in my (article, blog, guide, etc).
In return I/we ask for (x number of nights) for (x number of people), including myself so that I/we can have the complete experience at your hotel. Can I send you a detailed email with my proposal so that you can understand my offer better? It will explain all the details and how I want to promote your hotel to my viewers.
Marketing Director: Yes please send it to me in writing. My email is email@example.com
Now you can cross this hotel off the list and call the next one. Remember to be courteous and polite. If the manager has questions answer as many as possible over the phone. This is where all of your preparation will be valuable to you.
Once you have contacted the hotels on your list and have compiled an email list of managers or owners begin sending each an email using a general template email that you can change for every manager. This is an example of what I send all the hotels I contact. It explains precisely what I am offering and what I will need in return. I advise that you always be direct and ask for complimentary stay with the extras you need like breakfast and perhaps parking and Internet. Do not ask for a press rate because it will give you only 25-50% off.
Hello (Name of manager),
It was a pleasure speaking with you today. My name is (your name), and I have a travel company called (name of your business). I travel to different countries all over the world and promote the best hotels, restaurants, and attractions. At the moment I will be heading to (Country) and would like to feature (hotel name) as the select hotel in my (article, blog, guide, etc.) about (city name). This (article, blog, guide, etc.) is a free downloadable PDF that will be available on my site and another 10 travel websites that focus on luxury travel (Remember to describe how and where the content will be available so that the hotel manager understands the offer).
I do not ask for any compensation to feature your hotel in the guide. Instead, I will need (x number of nights) to be complimentary with breakfast & parking included for myself (and for whoever else) so that I/we can experience your hotel first- hand to be able to write a great review on it and promote it for months to come.
The dates that I will be in your city will be the following: (Provide the dates. It is best to write out the month’s name as some in some countries dates are recorded as dd/mm/yy).
This is of very little cost to (hotel name) and in return the hotel will be seen by thousands of people this year. It will be promoted through (my website, the city guide, twitter and/or facebook).
I have attached two links. One is a sample city guide and the second is my media kit.
City Guide (hyperlinked)
Media Kit (hyperlinked)
Please do not hesitate to contact me regarding this offer and for any questions you may have. I look forward to hearing back from you regarding this project.
All the best,
CEO & Founder
Always double and triple check the email before sending it out. You never want to have the wrong date, director’s name, or hotel. I learned the hard way when someone wrote back, “We would love to feature you but we are not located in Casablanca, we are located in Marrakech.” Fortunately, that hotel confirmed and it still worked out, but I would hate to go through that again. It is embarrassing and supremely unprofessional to mix up basic information like names.
The above email is an example modeled after the format that I use for my company. I bolded the parts that should change in your version, but basically your email should explain the basics. Here is a checklist of what to include:
*Once I receive word of at least two confirmed hotels, I like to mention them at the end of the email to further entice the manager to agree to my proposal. You can include, “Here is a list of hotels that I have already confirmed for my trip and I feel that your hotel is a perfect fit for my project.”
Madrid- Hotel Menina
Cacares- Hotel AH Agora Cacares
Merida- Hotel Merida Palace