The Maldives is made up of consistently white sand beaches with luminous crystal cyan-blue water that can't be found anywhere else on Earth. Perhaps this reason alone is why the remote Indian Ocean paradise is traveled by more than a million vacationers every year.
Every hotel resort in the Maldives is its own private and personal island. Hotel brands rival one another to attain a greater stature and height of luxury than the competition. Some even include personal pools and private butlers. The resorts are highly sought after by those willing to dish out big money, such as honeymooners and A-listers.
As the internet and social media continue to gain momentum, so does the growing trend of Instagram's elite "influencers" who barter with luxury resorts, asking for a free stay in exchange for publicity.
Bartering is in no way a new business plan, however, as the list of social media models asking for a free vacation grows, the practice starts to grow tiring for many hotel chains. Luxury resort owners in the Maldives are becoming frustrated with the sheer number of "freebie requests," especially from those lacking true social media influence.
According to a recent report published by The Atlantic, anyone with a Facebook could potentially be considered an influencer and, according to Kate Jones, an employee at a Maldives resort, far too many wanna-be models believe that they are entitled to a "free ride in paradise."While there are some who are considered to be elite influencers and are sent a personal invite by the hotel, the concept has created a deluge of "requests for all-expense-paid vacations in exchange for some social media posts."
"These people are expecting five to seven nights on average, all-inclusive. The Maldives is not a cheap destination."So plentiful are the requests for deals by travel bloggers and models, many resorts have begun to outline the acceptable criteria, with sections on their websites specifically aimed toward Instagram or other social media influencers. The website for Hurawalhi Maldives reads as follows.
"We are looking for individuals who are highly engaging with their audience, have a loyal following, favor content quality over quantity, and whose personal brand aligns with the resort's target audience, values, and marketing goals."According to Fox News, many of the luxury hotels no longer accept bartering arrangements at all. After Elle Darby, a 22-year-old YouTuber requested a free five-night stay and was publically rejected, she made a video claiming how embarrassing the situation was for her.
"I don't feel like I did anything wrong."Being rejected by one hotel, however, wasn't the end of Elle's social media influencing days. Her Instagram is filled to the brim with selfies taken at resorts all over the world.
As far as the Maldives are concerned, accepting applications from influencers is still a common practice. Many resorts are beginning to take action by clearly outlining terms in an attempt to filter out those who simply want a free vacation. Several resorts in the Maldives have hired experts in the social media field and expect quality over quantity. Ten pictures modeling a bikini on the beach isn't going to do the trick, especially if it's impossible to tell which hotel the photos were taken at.