Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Vacation Almost Free Using Blogs And Social Media

We're excited to have Nathanael Madden of Arcadia Coves share his tips on vacationing almost free from your blog or social media! We hope this helps you the next time you plan a vacation! 

A free vacation might be right under your nose. Here’s how to vacation almost free using blogs and social media followings. This isn’t just an article; this is what I’ve actually done! I actually have been on 4 vacations this year and almost $7,000 of it has been free! I’ve been a blogger and run large social media pages with 500 – 1,000,000 followers. I’ve worked with Google and have been in the travel and marketing industry ever since I graduated. Currently, I work in the tourist town of Branson Missouri, home to 7,000 residents and 7,000,000 tourists. Maybe you’ve spent hours writing articles on your blog about what you love, or you’ve spent years building up a large social media following. Well, it’s time to take a vacation by using your work. A lot of vacationers browse the web looking for vacation getaway deals, discounts, or even coupons for hotels and flights. Here’s a list of ways you can utilize your following to land you vacation perks, but first, some background.

Blogs and Social Media

Valuing Your Work
The average blogger thinks they spend about 15 hours a week blogging.
The same average blogger with a serious blog actually spends 30 hours a week blogging.

That’s almost a full time job!
Marketers in a marketing company who work 40 hours a week are actually very similar to you. They pursue their passion, and you pursue your passion. However, they promote someone else’s business; you don’t promote anyone’s business. What’s the difference? The difference comes down to valuing your work, and about $35,000.

US average entry level marketing position at a marketing firm makes $35,000.

However, the great news, marketers have to go pay for ads with television, radio, billboard, magazine, website and newspaper companies. The reason is they need to reach people through an outlet that has an audience. Great news for you, you already have an audience. You are the media company!

Why Companies Love Blogs and Social Media
Sometimes you’ll have to verbalize your value to a company. Vacation companies won’t always know immediately the value of blogs and social media. They think they do, but they don’t. If I could pick a newspaper ad that 1,000 people read or a blog article that 1,000 people read I would pick the blog. A newspaper ad is a commercial, and there is a low trust factor with consumers. A blog or social media blast from someone you like doesn’t feel like an ad, it’s just information. Consumers wait for television ads to end, but they wait to see the programming. Traditional advertising is like that television ad, your blog or social media post is like the programming.  

What Vacation Companies Spend Marketing
If every vacation company could offer products and services instead of money as payment to advertisers they would. Unfortunately, $1,000 YouTube ad with 5,000 views can’t be bought with hotel vouchers. Hilton Hotels can’t write a check for “50 Free Nightly Stays” to ABC Television to pay for television ads. Check this theoretical example out:

Hotel Stay: $100 Price
Hotel Actual Cost: $70
Hotel Profit: $30
This means if the vacation company paid for advertising in product or services it’d actually be cheaper to them. How does this relate?
You’ll be trading posts, articles, blasts and so on for products and services, not cash. It’s a win/win, and you actually help them save on their marketing budget. So, let’s do this.

Trading Posts For Vacations

If you try and sell your posts to companies it will take you twice as long, with half the results. You’ll basically be using your blog and social media following to trade for your vacation. Trading posts for vacations is basically just cashing in on all your hard work. There are a million ways to apply this concept, but here’s how it pertains to vacationing.

How To Use Your Blog Or Social Media
Here are the guidelines on how to use your blog or social media following for trading posts for vacations.

Types of Vacations:

Future Clients
Several businesses you trade a post with will be interested in the future to trade again or pay you. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door with future clients. The better results they see, the more likely they’ll want you back.

What Can You Trade
Here’s a list of items showing what you can trade.
  • A Blog Link
  • A Blog Review
  • An Online Review(s)
  • Tweet
  • Facebook Post
  • Instagram Post
  • Email Blast
  • Giveaway

Who Will Trade
Let’s use the tourist city of Branson Missouri as an example for who will trade. Trading posts for vacations all depends on the size of your following and viewership and how much you’ll post for them. It also depends on the value of the item you’d like and how many items you want. If you’re on vacation with family, a tweet from a popular Twitter handle might not cut it for four $60 Silver Dollar City passes. However, it might get you 50% off, or it might even get you four $60 passes plus food. The main rule in trading is being fair. You’ll always get a few “No’s” for every “Yes.”

Small Posts
  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Spas
  • Salon
  • Attractions
  • Activities
  • Retail Stores
Medium Posts
  • Attractions
  • Activities
  • Hotels
  • Resorts
Large Posts
  • Cruise
  • Car Rentals
Very Large Posts
  • Airlines
Make It Personal
Don’t make your post sound like a cold sales pitch. You’ll lose credibility, and your readers don’t like to be “sold” things. Make it personal and unique. Keep it to interesting facts and what sets it apart.

Corporate vs. Private
The most important fact in how to use your blog or social media is knowing whether the company is corporate vs. private. Big corporations with lots of red tape will always take longer than mom and pop operations to get a “thumbs up” for trading posts.

  • Private (Easy)
  • Franchisee (Medium)
  • Corporate (Hard)
Talk to the Decision Maker
Sometimes the gal at the counter can make the decision, or sometimes you’ll need to see a manager or owner. Every business is different, but always talk to the decision maker or else you’re wasting time.
HINT: You’ll actually waste time talking to the owner, if the staff makes the decisions.

Decision Makers
  • Staff
  • Manager
  • Owner
Size of the Following
If you have 50,000 Facebook Fans and 50,000 email subscribers don’t sell yourself short! If the size of the following is a few readers and 1,000 Twitter followers don’t get frustrated landing an all-inclusive vacation getaway to Cancun. Use common sense.

When to Contact
Example 1: Obviously going to the airline ticket counter and asking for a free flight in exchange for a post won’t work. Even if you were CNN they couldn’t make that decision on the spot. Example 2: However, emailing a Muffin Boutique three weeks in advance of stopping by is overkill.

Are you a food blog blogging blogging about a restaurant, or a food blog blogging about a roller coaster ride? Figure out relevance! Find a way to tie in with your audience. Otherwise, it seems forced.

1) Work your shoutout into another story.
A story on a food tour of dessert shops in LA can end with your day at the amusement park.

2) Post on social media instead of blogging.
Maybe a whole blog post on roller coasters doesn’t make sense, but your daily Facebook post does.

3) Tie the story into regional relevance.

4) Tie it into what’s going on in life or news.

Put Their Shoes On
You’ll get way better at landing free vacation perks using blogs and social media once you look at it from the business owner’s perspective. Put their shoes on and think, “How it will benefit them?”

Now you know how to vacation almost free using blogs and social media. Always remember your value, remember there are always more “No’s” than “Yes’s,” and if you’re giving them a fair deal you have nothing to be ashamed of. After your 1st “Yes” it’s smooth travels, and asking will be second nature.

1 comment:

  1. This is brilliant! I'm definitely pinning this and going to reference it when I get a bigger following :) Thank you for sharing your tips!

    xo marlen
    Messages on a Napkin