Do you think this hotel overreacted to an influencer’s ‘free stay’ request?

UK-based YouTuber and social media influencer, Elle Darby, says she had “nothing but the purest intentions”.

It began as it does these days: social media. Darby, a ‘fitness, beauty and lifestyle YouTuber’ according to her Instagram profile, reached out to Paul Stenson, the owner of The White Moose Café and Charleville Lodge Hotel, a popular hotel in Ireland.

Darby wrote in her email: “My partner and I are planning to come to Dublin for an early Valentine’s Day weekend from Feb 8th to 12th to explore the area.

“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.”

The 22-year-old also mentioned working with Universal Orlando in Florida and how the experience has been “amazing for them!”.

Dear Social Influencer (I know your name but apparently it’s not important to use names),Thank you for your email…

Posted by The White Moose Café on Tuesday, 16 January 2018

But unlike Darby’s 87,000 YouTube subscribers and 76,000 Instagram followers, Stenson was far from impressed. He responded to her request publicly on The White Moose Café’s Facebook page, posting a screenshot of Darby’s email with a caption that read:

“Dear Social Influencer (I know your name but apparently it’s not important to use names),

“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 a 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?”

Social media users were able to identify the influencer due to a poor attempt to black-out her name her post, and after plenty of negative comments received, Darby responded in true YouTuber fashion, a viral video (with comments disabled).

In the 17-minute video which has now reached more than 235,000 views, Darby breaks down from the embarrassment of being “exposed”.

“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 said.

**THANK YOU BLOGGERS**I’d just like to say a huge thanks to all the bloggers for their hard work over the past two…

Posted by The White Moose Café on Wednesday, 17 January 2018

After receiving his share of backlash too, Stenson shared his decision to ban all bloggers from his hotel and cafe in a second Facebook post.

He writes: “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.

“I never thought we would be inundated with negative reviews for the simple reason that somebody was required to pay for goods received or services rendered.”

He continued to share his thoughts on the industry on Snapchat and Facebook, sarcastically thanking bloggers, and is currently unreachable in Amsterdam, asking all newspapers, radio stations and online media outlets not to call as “there’s a fair chance” he would “be stoned”.

Evidently not one to let anyone else have the final say, Stenson has since posted a photograph of an invoice for the exposure he has garnered for Darby – to the tune of €5,289,000. Let sleeping moose lie?

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Diandra Soliano

Our resident Wander Woman with a passion for languages, big cities and bronzer. When she's not listening to The Smiths a little too loudly at the office (after hours!), she can be found singing along to the soundtrack of Les Miserables with her two cats for an audience.

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