The White Banana Beach Club Siargao was not fond of influencers' requests to stay for free in exchange for social media coverage
A resort in the Philippines has drawn both criticism and praise for its biting message urging Instagram influencers seeking comped rooms in exchange for social media posts to “actually work.”
The White Banana Beach Club on the island of Siargao’s message went viral late last month after it shared a post to Facebook making it clear that influencers who requested free accommodation in exchange for coverage were not welcome.
“We are receiving many messages regarding collaborations with influencers, Instagram influencers,” someone from the resort wrote. “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.”
The post garnered more than 11,000 likes, and many comments of support, like one user who wrote that influencers were simply freeloaders.
“If they are need of ‘influencers,’ I’m sure the resort will reach out. Until then, if you’re asking for free stuff that usually costs regular hardworking folk a pretty penny in exchange for ~~clout~~ on their artificially curated IG feed, that’s freeloading – plain and simple,” one Facebook commenter wrote.
Others, however, defended the influencers’ hustle and wrote that the resort’s decision to call them out so publicly was unnecessary.
“I am not against this post or anyone, but I wish we don’t call people names,” wrote one user who claimed to be a model who blogged on the side. “If they are an aspiring influencer, I hope we don’t kill their dreams and discourage them because of your words. Instead, let this serve as a lesson for them. And if you could, enlighten them on how to do this right.”
White Banana did not back down against its critics, as it followed up the original post with a second one sarcastically wondering if they should sell T-shirts mocking “sweet snowflake” influencers.
“Now we are receiving bad reviews on FB from people who have never been here. Take a look! Sweet snowflakes that probably never worked a day in their life,” the post read. “Maybe it’s time for a new White Banana T-shit. What about… ‘…or you could actually work?’ Still thinking on the design and maybe add a cap. Maybe a White Banana because the snow?”
That post was just as polarizing, with one Facebook user slamming influencers as “scumbags” and “new age beggars.”
“OMG I love y’all. Thanks for encouraging WORK,” another wrote.
Another supporter, Anna Santana, wrote that she agreed with White Banana’s initial post and felt that more businesses should follow suit.
“MORE businesses need to come back at these professional beggars & idiots who think that just because they have a large following on social media that their thoughts & opinions will influence their follows,” she wrote. “Try getting an education & real job little ‘influencers.’”
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Others, though, were not amused by the mocking approach and called the resort’s tactics unprofessional.
“This post is kind of one sided and rude,” wrote a Facebook commenter. “It’s your establishment you’re in control and so if you don’t want free loader influencer/s all you have to do is simply decline. Nothing else.”
Added a second, “You guys sound so rude, please be nice.”
Lance De Ocampo, a Manila-based social media influencer with more than 48,000 followers on Instagram, slammed the resort on social media, claiming that influencers have been behind a bump in Siargao’s tourism trade.
“And oh, I , or WE, don’t want to take full credit but don’t forget, social media ‘influencers,’ ‘Instagram influencers,’ have big contributions to boost Siargao’s tourism,” he wrote, according to News.com.au. “Siargao will not be as appreciated as it is now if not of the so-called influencers’ breathtaking and well-curated Instagram photos.”
He later apologized for his comments on Twitter, though he did maintain that he was “strongly offended” by the resort’s post.
“I thought that they made a hasty generalization of the kind of job bloggers and/or influencers do, that we only rely on free passes, free food and accommodation,” he wrote. “I didn’t mean to CREDIT Siargao’s tourism on influencers, I just meant that one FACTOR of Siargao’s growing popularity is because of social media.”
As pointed out by a Facebook commenter on the T-shirt post, the incident echoes that of a situation that made headlines in 2018, in which an influencer tried to get a free stay at a Dublin hotel in exchange for posting about it on social media.
Paul Stenson, the owner of the White Moose Café and Charleville Lodge, publicly shared influencer Elle Darby’s email to the hotel’s Facebook page, though her name was removed.
In the email, Darby billed herself as a “social media influencer” based in lifestyle, beauty and travel, and promised she would feature the lodge on her channels and recommend it to others if she could stay for free.
Stenson also wrote a scathing letter that mocked her follower count and advised her to pay next time to “show more self-respect” and “be less embarrassing.”
Darby later identified herself as the email’s author in a YouTube video that said she was “embarrassed” and “humiliated” by the post, and that she had received death threats.