Earlier this week, social media influencer Elle Darby had a business idea. She would stay at a Dublin hotel with her partner for an early Valentine’s Day weekend. For free.
In return, she would share a series of aesthetically pleasing photos and videos to her 79,000 Instagram and YouTube followers, complete with the hotel’s location and social tags to “bring traffic” and “recommend others to book”.
Only, she picked the wrong hotel.
Upon receiving this email, the White Moose Café and Charleville Lodge’s owner, Paul Stenson did not share Darby’s enthusiasm for this exciting opportunity for mutual gain.
But rather than reply with a simple but effective ‘No thanks’, he instead posted a screenshot of Darby’s proposal on Facebook along with some choice words that summed up exactly how he felt about her request.
“Thank you for your email looking for free accommodation in return for exposure,” he wrote.
“It takes a lot of balls to send an email like that, if not much self-respect and dignity. If I let you stay here in return for a feature in your video, who is going to pay the staff who look after you?
“Who is going to pay the housekeepers who clean your room? The waiters who serve you breakfast? The receptionist who checks you in? Who is going to pay for the light and heat you use during your stay? The laundering of your bed sheets? The water rates? Maybe I should tell my staff they will be featured in your video in lieu of receiving payment for work carried out while you’re in residence?”
The post went on to point out that the hotel, in fact, had quite a few of their own followers across their social media accounts, adding that doesn’t entitle them to anything for free.
“In future, I’d advise you to offer to pay your way like everyone else, and if the hotel in question believes your coverage will help them, maybe they’ll give you a complimentary upgrade to a suite. This would show more self-respect on your part and, let’s face it, it would be less embarrassing for you.”
The viral post was met with both praise and criticism.
“Wow, remind me never to stay at your hotel if that’s how you treat people. Also, all you needed to do was respond with a simple ‘No thanks, that’s something we don’t require’ but instead you’ve just stooped to a childish level and humiliated yourself. Well done,” one comment writer said.
Another added: “This is really tacky. All it takes is to reply to the email with ‘no’. Considering how many brands expect bloggers to work for free as the industry standard, sending an email like this is not unusual.”
Others appreciated Stenson’s dry humour, and offered up their own brand of sarcasm over the situation.
One wrote: “I’m so glad that influencer was able to single-handedly boost the visitor count at Universal Orlando – they were really struggling to be noticed for a while.”
“Hey I created an Instagram acct purely to spy on my teenage child but now have 55 followers, can I come and stay free for a week with the kids?” another asked.