A recent article in The Atlantic attempted to lift the curtain on the often fabulous (and sometimes annoying) Instagram posts we see from influencers staying at luxury hotels. While these posts might excite consumers, hotel executives are getting irritated with the onslaught of messages from self-proclaimed social media influencers trying to get free hotel stays in exchange for a few Instagram posts. At the Dusit Thani hotel in the Maldives, where rates can reach $1,000 per night, staff scoffed at influencers boasting just 2,000 Instagram followers trying to score a free 10-day stay.

The article mentioned some strategies hotels have used to cope with this problem. For example, one boutique hotel in Ireland banned all influencers (and got some good headlines out of it). The Ace Hotel and Starwood Hotels Hawaii have formalized the process with intake forms that qualify influencers, aiming to help cut down the noise and ensure a proper fit between influencer and hotel brand. 

Gartner L2’s report on influencers finds that 82% of luxury hotel brands work with influencers, above the 70% average for other sectors covered by Gartner L2 research. However, only 4% of luxury hotel brand posts mention influencers, below the 10% average for other sectors covered by Gartner L2 research.

While luxury hotels scoff at influencers with too few followers, they shouldn’t ignore those who fit the brand. Gartner L2’s report on measuring influencer impact finds that influencers with fewer than 25K followers lift brand engagement rates by 13% on posts which they’re featured, higher than all larger influencer categories aside from celebrities. Of course, it’s much cheaper to send a beauty influencer a free lip kit than a free trip to Paris.

And as some hotels complain about influencers, others are embracing them. Nearly a third of luxury hotel brands feature influencers in their Instagram Stories, according to research from Gartner L2’s most recent Digital IQ Index: Luxury Hotels. The Standard’s current discount promotion features posts with sunbathing selfie takers, highlighting the fact that influencers potentially offer brands as much as brands offer influencers. 

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