Trade a room for advertising?

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Kay Nein's picture
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02/13/2012

 I just received an email through our local chamber of commerce from a woman offering to advertise for us in exchange for a room.  There is a conference at the end of the month which we are marketing to and I believe that's why she's targeting us.  We've only owned this B&B for a month & a half, so we're eager for advertising opportunities.

She's offered advertising with backlinks on 5 different travel websites, banner ads on two and a write-up feature for April on one of them all to run for 6 months ending in September.  However, her websites are very low budget, have little to no content and two of them are for non-adjacent states.  She claims that the sites are brand new and she's developing content.  I researched her email address and found that she's very active in her community and shows up on numerous other websites related to our conference topic.  

 Pros - 

  1. Multiple backlinks will increase our website page ranking
  2. We will be the only advertiser on a few of the pages making us VERY visible to visitors
  3. We can use her write-up for other advewrtising opportunities (ie: Facebook)
  4. She could be a great word-of-mouth referral source

Cons - 

  1. Her websites probably don't have much traffic
  2. Her writing skills aren't very impressive (for the write-up)
  3. What if it's all a ruse to get free rooms & meals?  Her websites state that she only lists places that she's stayed at or eaten at so she can recommend them.
  4. We are hoping to get the Inn full during this conference, so it's very possible that we could get paying guests in those rooms.
  5. How do we decline and keep from getting bad press from her since she'll be in town for the conference anyways?

I would any advice, experiences and concerns with this sort of thing.  

Thank you!

Dena

Madeleine's picture
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If you need to explain this to the owners you want to stick with the hard facts, because you'll be using this time and again when more and more of these people find your website. Hard facts like what Swirt pointed out. Keep in mind, too, that she wants to stay during the conference so it would do no good FOR the conference to have her stay free. She won't blog until afterwards.

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Kay Nein's picture
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 You guys are great!  Thanks for the information.  

It's two nights, one room.  Her websites are brand new (Thanks Alexa & Whois from GoDaddy) and have almost no content.  I was assuming that the backlinks & her word-of-mouth would be good, but it's not worth it to get a reputation for being open to trades.  And like Swirt said, the backlinks might be of no benefit if they're not up for long & on dead pages - I had not thought of that.

You're right - I had kinda already made up my mind, but wasn't 100% sure.  And I needed more info to give the other decision makers.  I'm actually the innkeeper, not the owner.  Sometimes I wish I could make the decisions myself and other times I'm glad I don't have to  =)

 

 

 

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Dena wrote:

 You guys are great!  Thanks for the information.  

It's two nights, one room.  Her websites are brand new (Thanks Alexa & Whois from GoDaddy) and have almost no content.  I was assuming that the backlinks & her word-of-mouth would be good, but it's not worth it to get a reputation for being open to trades.  And like Swirt said, the backlinks might be of no benefit if they're not up for long & on dead pages - I had not thought of that.

You're right - I had kinda already made up my mind, but wasn't 100% sure.  And I needed more info to give the other decision makers.  I'm actually the innkeeper, not the owner.  Sometimes I wish I could make the decisions myself and other times I'm glad I don't have to  =)

  

Dena, in future if it is a journalist, I was not sure if it was in this instance, but there is an ethics thing, they cannot stay for free. This is a good forum for this information, stick around there is a ton of knowledge here...hope to hear some of your guest stories and info soon too. Smiling

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

Dena wrote:

 You guys are great!  Thanks for the information.  

It's two nights, one room.  Her websites are brand new (Thanks Alexa & Whois from GoDaddy) and have almost no content.  I was assuming that the backlinks & her word-of-mouth would be good, but it's not worth it to get a reputation for being open to trades.  And like Swirt said, the backlinks might be of no benefit if they're not up for long & on dead pages - I had not thought of that.

You're right - I had kinda already made up my mind, but wasn't 100% sure.  And I needed more info to give the other decision makers.  I'm actually the innkeeper, not the owner.  Sometimes I wish I could make the decisions myself and other times I'm glad I don't have to  =)

  

Dena, in future if it is a journalist, I was not sure if it was in this instance, but there is an ethics thing, they cannot stay for free.

 

Really, I hadn't thought of it that way.  In what instances do you think that would be the case?  Eg. a travel writer who writes for a private magazine/website/blog and who does features on different destinations?  A regular newspaper journalist?

Generic's picture
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It is against Federal Trade Commission regulations for anyone to accept a free stay in return for publicity with the quid pro quo being mentioned. Anyone, even a blogger is legally required to disclose that they were paid. So what good is that kind of review? NOT! If they post it and not disclose, the FTC can go after YOU. Read ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005endorsementguidesfnnotice.pdf

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Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

We've all gotten some version of this, mostly from bloggers who want free vacations.

If the emailer has a legitimate organization that can bring you business, or at least get your name out to many, many people, then I would say go for it.

If you want to do it and let us know how it works, it's only one night. But, be prepared to be on a 'hey she gives free rooms for blog posts' list.

Are you quite comfortable with her website? That she's not a front for someone who is suddenly going to start sending you bills for all those website links?

Generic's picture
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Dena wrote:

...

  1. What if it's all a ruse to get free rooms & meals?  Her websites state that she only lists places that she's stayed at or eaten at so she can recommend them

....

It's isn't a ruse at all, it's the truth. She wants a free room and meals. There is nothing you are really getting for it. I'll make you bets that none of her pages gets enough traffic to be even a PR 2. Essentially, hardly any traffic. Use a tool like Alexa to see if she has traffic to that page at all. I have had directories ask me to pay that have less traffic than my own home page!

There are FTC regulations that require that anyone who is placing a review that has been given monetary value for said review is required to disclose that they have been paid. In this case, the room is pay and if she isn't disclosing that fact, she needs to be stopped. Please see http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm and the complaint form is at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

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Seems like little value to you. I would let her know "We don't do exchanges but appreciate her thinking of us" then...she will mention paying for them, and you can say "Your budget is already allocated for the year."

Being new with the inn Dena you will find these are a dime a dozen. Everyone will target you for freebies, and more. If you have good info on your website, then people going to the conference will find you. 

EmptyNest's picture
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05/22/2008

I think you have already answered your own question. NO!  These kinds of folks seem to prey on innkeepers. You don't need to start that kind of habit. It won't get you anything. A polite thank you but no thank you is all that is necessary. 

Joey Camb's picture
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id be wary plus am not sure of US tax law but arn't you not allowed to give free rooms? or something along these lines? if so this would get you out of  it. For myself as a person in a conference town I wouldn't do it dependant on conference numbers, your location in relation to the venue and volume of competition so on would be much more important. We join the conference's facebook page and put on a small write on the  wall - ie XYZ inn welcomes BPL members to washington and are doing a special 3 day delegate rate of $XYZ call or email or whatever to get this special rate. Also look for their twitter feed if they have one and retweet their stuff now and again to get a mention. For myself I wouldn't do it the big hotels round here do free rooms for organisers and one in 100 free is nothing to them however its a big chunk of revenue to us.

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swirt's picture
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  Pros - 

  1. Multiple backlinks will increase our website page ranking

From new sites?  Little to no benefit to you.  Long term, possibly, but it sounds like the links to your site would be limited in duration (Sept).  I can't say for sure, without seeing the sites.

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

Is it one night or multiple nights? On re-reading, it sounds as if it is multiple rooms. I believe I would decline. Just say you are not able to participate at this time and leave it at that. You are not required to give an explanation of why not.

This smacks of the "whitemailer" who anounced to an innkeeper on arrival that she would be writing a VERY favorable review on T A and if I remember correctly, an innmate here heard this and asked her about it later when they were alone. The woman replied she does that all the time and gets LOTS of perks & extras because of it. She said she always writes the review. (This is the reverse of the "blackmailer" who says give me what I want or I will write a bad review.) 

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