I have certain tricks that make a whole difference in how professional I behave and present myself whenever I work with a brand. In this post, I will detail the brand collaborations best practices I follow for all my hotel and brand collabs that I truly believe make a huge difference between being a successful influencer, or just another person lost in the crowd.
As an EXTRA just for you guys, by the end of this post, you will also have the option to download as a BONUS ‘’5 Crucial PR Elements that REALLY Make a Difference to your Business Growth”.
Let’s get into it right away:
The Importance of Being Professional
If you are a regular reader at La Belle Society then you are probably familiar with how important it is to be professional at all times when working with a brand.
In fact, my university’s motto was ‘’You only have one chance to make a first impression’’ and they really meant it.
It took me a while to fully grasp just how important this is. Being professional can make it or break it if a hotel or brand answers your email pitch. It can get you more features from the collab (such as free dinners, a drink, a room upgrade) and, if you’re lucky, it can make you become a long-term ambassador for them or a repeat visitor.
As you can see, there are honestly endless perks in being well prepared and presented. After working with a few hotels, I took the time to sit down and think about certain items that stood out to me that I strongly believe any content creator should ALWAYS pay attention to.
And in this post I will give you all the juiciest brand collaborations best practices.
Disclaimer I am by no means a huge influencer, but the blogging community has been amazing to me this past year and I hope to give back a bit of my knowledge now. After doing this for about one year now I learned many things along the way that I’d like to share with you today.
However, in one way or another, I do believe I am ”successful’ in some way or another’ , being that this past year alone I had amazing opportunities such as staying in luxury hotels for free, getting many cool products, and getting invited to dinners and shows (and also trying to celebrate all my small accomplishments along the way).
As a hospitality graduate with sales experience, to me it all comes down to how professional, kind and well-presented you are when you approach a brand/hotel for a pitch.
I wanna share my story and my lessons learned on the way with you. Lets take this journey together.
BEST PRACTICES BEFORE A BRAND COLLABORATION
1.1 Agree on the terms of the deliverable (the type of content)
This is a bit of a given, but I will write it down anyway because my goal is for this list to becoming a successful influencer to be as complete as possible.
What type of content will you be creating?
What is your expertise? Do you take gorgeous photos? Are you an expert video storyteller? Do you own a drone? Are you an amazing writer?
One of the biggest brand collaborations best practices is to be extra clear on what they should expect from you.
This means don’t promise IGTV videos if you don’t know how to capture quality video images (it is WAY harder than it seems). Don’t tell them you will write extensive blog posts if your English is not so good.
Tip: Extra careful with drone licensing. Don’t promise a drone shot if either 1) you don’t have a license to fly it, 2) or if the area doesn’t allow you to fly a drone.
Pro Tip: Be proactive and act as a consultant!! Say that you will leave them a TripAdvisor review after you check out (they will most probably ask one from you anyway. Plus it sounds reaaaaaaally cool when in your deliverable you say something like ‘’I will also leave you an honest TripAdvisor review because I know from experience from other clients how important this is for your business”)
1.2) Quantity of content
Be clear on how many pictures you will be delivering back. Or how long will the video be.
Here, it is important to bear in mind to not overpromise. From my experience, it is best to set lower expectations and then over-deliver. Of course, this does not mean you will tell them you will take 2 pictures of their restaurant only so that you can later deliver 10.
Be reasonable to what you should promise them.
Tip: It is crucial to take your time into consideration. If you have only one day at a hotel, keep in mind that time is a constraint.
As an example, I recently got a collab with a luxury hotel in Barcelona to create content for them to increase my portfolio. They will not pay me, nor will I stay at the hotel (even though they have kindly offered us a dinner with drinks).
When I asked what they had in mind for us to take pictures of, they gave me a list of 7 different areas of the hotel. Given that we were not being paid, nor staying at the hotel, I offered to take 3 high-quality pictures of each venue (and I know in my heart that we can deliver at least 5 for each).
I, of course, explained that I prefer quality over quantity and that given the time constraint, I don’t want to over-promise the deliverable and focus on doing a good job, instead of only focusing on numbers.
They, of course, accepted my offer and, guess what? We delivered around 7 pictures per venue in the end (meaning we over-delivered by 130%). Not bad, huh?
Hotel happy. Influencers happy.
And we got a free dinner.
1.3) Delivery Date
This is a HUGE mistake that Cris and I overlooked when we did our first hotel collab.
If you don’t know yet, when Cris and I went to Sri Lanka in September 2019, that was the first time I had ever pitched a hotel as a content creator. I had very little hope considering my Instagram following is less than 10k and I had a little over 2 weeks before we boarded our flight to Asia.
That is why we closed 5 luxury hotel deals (we got a total of 7 hotel deals in Sri Lanka, but we had to turn down two of them due to time constraints – After all, we also wanted to see the country, not only the beautiful hotels).
As it was my first time working with luxury hotels, I was of course super excited and wanted to render fantastic deliverables as I was so thankful for them inviting us over. We agreed on IGTV, photos, blog posts, and social media coverage.
During our stay, we did manage to gather all the content we needed of course. Cris even sent the already-edited pictures to their marketing team before we even checked out.
That is why the next day when they emailed us asking if the IGTV video was ready we were taken aback. This was when it hit me that we hadn’t previously agreed to a date to send them back the videos.
If you’ve ever tried editing any video you are probably familiar with how long this process can take.
We kindly explained to the marketing team that this takes longer than pictures and, in order to compensate for this mistake, I worked extra hard in my blog posts to deliver them sooner.
They were satisfied and understood.
1.4 ASK, ASK, ASK
A huge aspect of any brand collaborations best practices is to act as a consultant. This not only improves the outputs that you will create but will also guarantee to avoid making you sound like you are there for a staycation.
In other words, when negotiating a collaboration, ask them if there is anything in particular that they’d like you to pay attention to? What makes their hotel unique? What are the activities they offer that they want you to give more exposure about?
If you do this step correctly, chances are they will offer you something so that you create content around.
Simply by acting as a consultant and followin these brand collaborations best practices, I have been offered:
- A dinner for two cooked by a private Chef
- Tasting of award-winning cocktails
- Special breakfast for two by the lake
- Lunch at a fine dining restaurant
- Been invited to a 5 star hotel on a full-board basis
- Candle dinner on a rock under the stars
- Bicycle city tours
- Full dinner + Flamenco show at Tablao de Carmen
- A romantic dinner for two at Iberostar Passeo de Gracia
You get the gist….
Keep in mind: If they offered you extra benefits, it is not only because you are so nice and pretty. They most probably expect you to create content around it. This goes back to step one: BE PROFESSIONAL!
1.7 Do your research
I would briefly go over their website and social media and call it a day for my research.
However, if you dive just a little deeper into it, it will make a huge difference to how you approach this collab.
This is also something that I overlooked during my first collabs, and that is why I want to warn you so that you don’t do the same mistake I did.
By googling any press publication or past blog posts from other influencers that have worked with such hotel, you will quickly understand what you details you should focus on, what type of pictures work (and brainstorm in advance how to tweak them to become unique).
Moreover, you will know exactly what types of content you can create and what kind of picture you will need to capture to have a complete blog post.
I hated myself for forgetting to take pictures of the hallways and of the exterior of the hotel during my first collabs. There was so much going on that these small details escaped my mind. Only after when I was writing the blog posts, that I realized I was missing some valuable pieces of content to illustrate my post.
We live, we learn. And that is why I am sharing these best practices with you today, so hopefully you are more ready than I was.
Last, but not least. Aim to always ask what they expect from this collaboration.
Not only will this also make you look serious and professional, but it will also align both parties regarding everything.
BEST PRACTICES DURING A BRAND COLLABORATION
Did you get the hotel collab? Congrats!!
Now the hard work really starts:
2.1 Always be on time
This also refers back to item 1: being on time to appointments conveys professionalism and that you take this job seriously.
If you arranged to meet at 6h AM to take pictures of their breakfast display, then you better be there at 6h AM sharp
(or do it like the Swiss: always aim to be 5 minutes before. This means that if you’re on time, you’re already late). – in my uni in Switzerland if you arrived 1 minute after class started they wouldn’t allow you inside until half time.
Do it like the Swiss. Be on TIME!
2.2. Dress appropriately
If you are working with a luxury hotel, then they have high standards of presentation. This means they will also most probably judge you if you arrive to meet them dressed as a hobo.
This, by all means, does NOT mean to arrive wearing a suit (can you imagine how ridiculous Cris and I would look in a suit in Sri Lanka?). But yes, do some effort to groom yourself before you arrive. Tidy your hair, brush your teeth, put on some clean clothes (maybe some perfume and makeup), avoid flip flops if you can.
Of course, during your stay, you can wear and dress as you wish. But aim to arrive looking fresh and, again, professional.
2.3 Bring with you a small notebook + pen
You will miss it if you don’t.
During a hotel collab, there are many items to pay attention to. Details such as service, decoration, the taste of certain foods/drinks, impressions, etc can be easily forgotten if you don’t write them down.
‘’But Ana, why on earth would I want to write about the hotel details for later?’’ you might be asking yourself.
Well, turns out that remembering these details is what makes a difference between a stellar blog review and a mediocre one. Ah yes, and you automatically look professional whenever you take out a small notebook with a pen when talking to the hotel manager who will be taking care of you.
Pro Tip: ‘’But what if I don’t have a blog, can I skip this step?’’
I wouldn’t. You can use these notes, later on, to write them an amazingly detailed TripAdvisor review.
2.4 Keep in mind to write down important people’s names
I learned this the hard way. I didn’t this of this this step when we worked in Sri Lanka and I didn’t make the effort to write anyone’s name.
Later when I was sending the hotel a thank you email for having us (more on this further on), I wanted to kill myself for not remembering the kind Hotel Manager’s name or the staff member that served us a perfect romantic dinner.
Furthermore, I would have liked to have mentioned them by name when leaving my TripAdvisor review.
I know from experience working for hotels (I had an internship in a hotel’s concierge in Thailand) just how nice it is to be a staff member and have a guest mention you by name in a review.
Just so you have an idea, I, of course, saved the review and I keep it until these days as a nice reminder. Check it out below:
Believe me that you can make someone reaaaaaaally happy when you mention their name in TripAdvisor praising them for their good services.
2.5 Let them know if something goes wrong
For one of the hotel collabs that we got in Sri Lanka, we had promised we would give them some drone shots.
Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side during our stay at this hotel and this meant we could not fly the drone as initially expected.
We were sure to immediately email the marketing team to inform them that we would not be able to use the drone with the rain and they understood. Furthermore, as an extra step, we over-delivered the amount of pictures we had initially promised (we had said 10 high-quality pictures and we delivered 25. That is 150% more than we had initially promised without them even asking for this).
3. BEST PRACTICES AFTER A BRAND COLLABORATION
3.1 Immediately write them a TripAdvisor review (preferably include some pictures).
This is pretty self-explanatory. As you had initially offered to write them a TripAdvisor review, be sure to send it just as soon as you write it (before they ever have a chance to remind you to do it).
3.2 Send them an email
- Thanking them one more time for kindly having received you at their hotel and for everything they provided you with during your stay
- Complimenting the hotel, the staff, and the service
- Remind them and setting their expectations towards deliverable dates
- Letting them know you’ve written the TripAdvisor review (be sure to send the link).
And these are my personal brand collaborations best practices that I follow religiously every time that I have a brand or hotel collaboration.
What You Can Ask in Return After a Collab
I have 5 sneaky PR (Public Relations) HOT tips that can reaaaaally boost your business growth. These are 5 small things that have zero cost to the hotel/brand but can also have a HUGE positive impact on your business.
Wanna know what they are?
Did you enjoy this post on Brand Collaborations Best Practices? Find more on my ‘Work With Brands” Series:
- How I Manage to Stay in Luxury Hotels for Free as a Small Blogger
- Brand Collaborations Best Practices (Before, During and After)
- How to Reach out To Brands and Get a Yes
- Top Criteria Brands Look For When Selecting an Influencer
- How to Pitch Hotels and Easily Get a Collab
See below some blog posts from my hotel collabs:
- Theva Residency, Kandy, Sri Lanka
- Le Grand Galle, Galle, Sri Lanka
- Wild Grass Nature Resort, Sigryia, Sri Lanka
- The Radh, Kandy, Sri Lanka
Find as well my testimonials page from my collaborations here.
Be sure to download my FREEBIE below.
Do you have any brand collaborations best practices to share that I missed? Let me know your personal tips in the comments section below!
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