No, Your Instagram ‘Influence’ Is Not as Good as Cash, Club Owner Says – Smart Media Magazine

No, Your Instagram ‘Influence’ Is Not as Good as Cash, Club Owner Says

A small-business owner on an island in the Philippines has become a local hero for pushing back at the growing number of international travelers who introduce themselves as “influencers” as a way to get free food, drinks and lodging.

He made his stand on Siargao, a tear-drop-shaped island long popular with surfers. In recent years it has also drawn a large number of travelers who believe that their vacations should be free so long as they make Instagram stories, according to several local business owners.

Last week, Gianluca Casaccia, 40, the manager and co-owner of the White Banana Beach Club, decided it was time to take action after opening his inbox and finding yet another message containing the phrase: “I am an influencer.”

Since May, when Mr. Casaccia, who is Italian, and his wife, who is from Manila, opened their cocktail bar overlooking the turquoise Philippine Sea, they have received about 100 of these messages, he said.

Along with a bar, the venue has a restaurant and two “luxury dorms” for around $23 a bed. The typical email from a “wannabe influencer” is something like: “I’m coming from the 25th to the 27th. We need three beds and food and accommodation.” In exchange, the traveler offers content instead of money.

“We found this disrespectful,” he said in an interview Monday night. It didn’t help that often the “influencers” had fewer than 2,000 Instagram followers. “How can you help me if you are no one?” he asked.

And so on March 26 he posted the following on Facebook:

We are receiving many messages regarding collaborations with influencers, Instagram influencers. We kindly would like to announce that White Banana is not interested to “collaborate” with self-proclaimed “influencers.” And we would like to suggest to try another way to eat, drink, or sleep for free. Or try to actually work.

He was not aiming to go viral, he said. “I just did it to make these people stop.”

But within a week, Mr. Casaccia had racked up more than 11,000 likes, 3,000 shares and nearly 700 comments and had generated a feisty debate about the value of “influence.”

Many applauded his attack on the overly entitled “new age beggars,” as one commenter called them.

But others defended the entrepreneurial travelers. What’s wrong with trying to see what you can get? So asked Jovelyn Mateo, a travel blogger from Manila, on the White Banana Beach Club Facebook page. “If you know that you have something to offer on the table, it’s never a bad thing to try,” she wrote.

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