Luxury hotel bans all 'entitled' YouTubers after freebie row
A 22-year-old UK-based fashion and beauty YouTuber was conducting business recently when one particular correspondence went nothing like she expected it to. What started off as a business proposition ended up with a hotel banning all bloggers from their location.
Elle Darby has 87,000 subscribers on YouTube and 76,000 followers on Instagram, so it's fair to say she has a large reach on social media. She and her partner were planning to visit Dublin for a weekend away, so she thought she could make a deal with someone in the area. She wrote to Paul Stenson, the owner of the luxurious White Moose Cafe and Charleville Lodge Hotel in the city, asking him if he would be interested in a "possible collaboration". Or, in other words, to stay for free.
"I work as a social media influencer, mainly lifestyle, beauty & travel based," she wrote in the letter.
"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. Last year I worked with Universal Orlando in Florida and it’s been amazing for them."
However, she didn't exactly get the reaction she wanted, as Stenson posted the exchange online. In the harsh reply to her request, he wrote:
"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.
"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? Who is going to pay the housekeepers who clean your room? The waiters who serve you breakfast? The receptionist who checks you in? Who is going to pay for the light and heat you use during your stay? The laundering of your bed sheets? The water rates? Maybe I should tell my staff they will be featured in your video in lieu of receiving payment for work carried out while you’re in residence?"
"Lucky for us, we too have a significant social media following but Jesus Christ, I would never in a million years ask anyone for anything for free.
"In future, I’d advise you to offer to pay your way like everyone else, and if the hotel in question believes your coverage will help them, maybe they’ll give you a complimentary upgrade to a suite. This would show more self-respect on your part and, let’s face it, it would be less embarrassing for you."
He received a mixed reaction online, as many commented to say that he was bullying, while others thought she was "spoilt" for asking. Stenson didn't use her name in the post and blocked out her details in the post, but eventually it got out that it was Darby who had contacted him, and apparently she has received a lot of online abuse ever since.
She then released a video onto YouTube titled 'I was exposed, so embarrassed'. In the 17-minute video she breaks down into tears and explains how the incident left her feeling angry and humiliated.
"As a 22-year-old girl, who’s running her own business from her home, I don’t feel like I did anything wrong," she said. "These were all 30 years plus people internet bullying a 22-year-old girl who is just trying to run her own business and raise awareness of what appeared to be a stunning Dublin hotel."
She added, "I don’t really know what their intent was – it was just malicious."
He then received backlash from those who supported her, this time banning all bloggers from visiting in another update. But rather than softening his stance in any way - he doubled down, promising to not admit any YouTubers or bloggers in the future.
"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.
"The girl in question was never identified in my original post, but she herself went on to create a video explaining how she was ‘exposed’ with ‘malicious intent’ for asking for a freebie. This kind of victimisation is very prevalent in the blogging industry, and is in keeping with their general modus operandi of wanting everything for nothing.
"If any of you attempt to enter our premises from now on, you will be ejected."
While it seems on the surface that Darby was asking for far too much, there are plenty of other businesses out there that receive free products or services in trade for the promotion they give. Either way, it looks like this particular hotel isn't going to be having any blog posts written about it any time soon.