Hotel bans 'social media influencers' after woman asks for free stay

Youtube personality says she made similar deal with Florida hotel

By Tim Swift - Digital Editor

Elle Darby

DUBLIN, Ireland - An Irish hotel has banned "social-media influencers" after a 22-year-old YouTube personality asked the hotel for free five-night stay in return for promoting the business on her social media accounts.

"As I was searching for places to stay, I came across your stunning hotel and would love to feature you in my YouTube videos/dedicated Instagram stories/posts to bring traffic to your hotel and recommend others to book up in return for free accommodation," Elle Darby wrote the White Moose Hotel. 

"Last year I worked with Universal Orlando in Florida and it’s been amazing for them!" she added.

The White Moose Hotel in Dublin didn't think the offer was "amazing" and posted its response to Darby, without naming her, on Facebook.

"Thank you for your email looking for free accommodation in return for exposure. It takes a lot of balls to send an email like that, if not much self-respect and dignity," White Moose owner Paul Stenson said.

"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?" Stenson asked.

Celebrities and other people with large online followings -- called influencers -- frequently promote products and services without their followers knowing if they were compensated. 

In the U.S., Federal Trade Commission regulations require that posts be labeled as being sponsored, but the regulations are rarely enforced.

The hotel took pains to black out Darby's name in the exchange, but Internet sleuths quickly determined it was Darby, a British woman who has 87,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel and 76,000 Instagram followers.

After getting a flood of negative online reactions, Darby responded in a 17-minute YouTube video - titled  "i was exposed (so embarrassing )" - where she at one point breaks down in tears.



At that point, Stenson had enough and banned all social-media influencers.

"The sense of entitlement is just too strong in the blogging community and the nastiness, hissy fits and general hate displayed after one of your members was not granted her request for a freebie is giving your whole industry a bad name," Stenson said.

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