When the travel blogging community learned I am using Israel as my base, I became the go-to person with all things Israel. Every day, I have a message in my inbox complaining about the absurdity of responses travel bloggers receive from Israeli hotels, tour companies or anything related to tourism.
“They wanted me to pay 50% for an overnight stay in exchange for a review on my blog.” One of my close blogger friends said.
I had the same experience when one organiser from an event in Tel Aviv wanted my services but didn’t want to pay. Although I was really interested in the project, he was asking for too much that I demanded a fee. When I did, his mood changed and went crazy on me.
“I know your game. People like you always get things for free, whatsoever. On top of that, you want to charge for the work you do. That’s not so cool.”
“I am very uncomfortable when I am caught up in this kind of situation. You know, when you underestimate the power of blogging and online media is not cool to me. People like me are good at what they do and you need to understand that while we might get things for free, we also work hard for it. I don’t deal with people who talk to me like this but I want to be respectful. Good luck with your project and may the force be with you.” **walks away**
Okay, wait a minute… Let’s give these companies and individuals a little lecture about what we do.
We are definitely not your advertising b*tch. Each blogger/influencer have the right to demand the terms because I am telling you, it’s not easy to convert a blog into a business let alone put up one. It’s a lot of hard work. Though you might think we don’t do a lot BUT WE DO. This is the fruit of our labour. Why do advertisers contact us in the first place if they don’t deem our blogs fit for their advertising campaigns? This pays the rent. What do you expect us to do? Seriously?
Luckily, one private tourism sector of Israel understands that: Vibe Israel is a non-profit organisation igniting a new conversation in Israel by eradicating the negative connotations about the country. The idea is to promote Israel as a very safe tourism destination and as a vibrant source of creativity and innovation. They’ve worked with bloggers from all over the world as their third party advertising in spreading the good word about Israel. This year, I was invited to take part in one tour and well, what can I say… I am still here, 2 months and counting.
To be honest, I’ve been to a lot of promotion campaigns from different tourism boards as an image fixer but Israel seemed to be the hardest to promote. War, famine, bombs: this is what the world’s image is for Israel but Vibe spearheads the change of imagery and branding of this misunderstood country. They are the only one who understands how to work with bloggers, influencers and media people, with a little help from some of their friends who are slowly joining in the online media movement.
The truth is, Israeli companies don’t understand the benefits of working with “people like us.”
They are always defensive. They always think when a blogger knocks on their door, they will be taken advantage of. They are always very particular about money and prices. I did a little psychological test about how Israel responds to media people, journalists, bloggers and influencers. We wanted to see if Israel is the only one in the Middle East who are not open to this kind of third party advertising. In the same hour/timezone, I sent out messages requesting for complimentary stays to top 10 hotels in Tel Aviv, Cape Town and the Maldives. All are copy pasted, of course, with the exact words and details of the request.
Reply #1 from a 5-star hotel in the Maldives. Overnight stay is valued at $350.00 USD per night.
Reply #2 from a 4-star boutique hotel in Cape Town. Overnight stay is valued at $120.00 USD per night.
Reply #3 from a 3-star boutique hotel in Tel Aviv. Overnight stay is valued at $90.00 USD per night.
The hotel representatives from Maldives and Cape Town are very much okay with the deal without asking any questions. It is possible that it’s not their first rodeo. Bloggers flock these 2 areas every year. They most likely worked with one. All the hotels contacted in the Maldives and Cape Town responded positively. Just like that, I had 20 hotels waiting to be picked.
On the other hand, reply #3 (Israel) is more attentive to details. First, they noticed the following of my Instagram (which is good). Second, they offered a very ‘safe’ and not worth any blogger’s time because third, they are asking for too much in exchange. Out of the 10 hotels I e-mailed in Tel Aviv, this is the only one who responded.
This Israeli behaviour is a by-product of the 50-day war between Gaza and Israel in 2014…
Again, I don’t want to discuss anything political but this conflict 2 years ago shrunk the tourism percentage of Israel. Hotels almost went bankrupt. All their reservations within that time period were cancelled, hence, no income. Tourists who were stuck in the country didn’t want to do anything touristic. Tour companies had nothing for days. The industry lost a lot of money and up until today, some are still paying for that loss. This is the part where I understood why they are very particular with all the media requests coming their way. And why on most days, they don’t reply to any inquiry at all.
Another factor that affects this blogger-company relationship in Israel is trust. Bloggers, note that every human being in this country went to the army. I’m sure you know how army people are: very very very particular, not so trusting, attentive to details and true to their word. I’ve been told by some companies that they worked with bloggers who did not comply with the deal (blog posts, social media promotions etc). I told them they did not tap the right bloggers for the job. I definitely have a lot of friends in the travel blogosphere that are very trusted and are very good at what they do.
But to the rest of the bloggers I don’t personally know, come on… Let’s do our job and be true to our words. Companies trust us for a reason. We have wide reach, we are definitely the cheapest advertising and more people engage in our content because we are real people. In this age of social media and Internet, we are the most credible in this field because people can relate to us. I’m sure you’ve realised they actually look up to us.
Although Israel might be a hard case to knock, here’s how you can build a good relationship with Israeli companies:
Bloggers visit to the Milk and Honey Distillery in Tel Aviv. (Photo by Matanya Tausig) | Vibe Israel Tour 2016
Be specific. Again, everyone in Israel went to the army so they are very straight forward. They cannot read between the lines. Guide them through the whole collaboration process in the most fair manner. Let them know what they will get in return and be true to that deal.
Be honest with your reach. Don’t say you have 100,000 readers if you only have 20,000. Present your press kit and walk them through it.
Set a timeline for the project/ex-deal. I know this is not really a protocol for the people who always comply to deals but in Israel, this is very important. If you say you will publish in 2 weeks, it should be in 2 weeks. If you say you will publish Instagram posts next year, then I tell you, they will definitely wait til next year. Again and again, time is very important to army people.
Give a few pointers on how to work with bloggers/influencers. Okay, this is extra work but this is the least we can do for a country that is a virgin in working with people like us. Educating them about what it’s like not only help their country’s tourism but also help your fellow bloggers who plan to visit in the future. It’s a win-win situation if you really are advocating for the importance and power of travel blogging as a profession.
The above does not only apply to Israel but to all the companies you want to collaborate with. We already know this, right? Anyway, below are a few companies who have open minds in working with bloggers. These are the people who are contributing to the advancement of Tourism in Israel. I highly recommend you work with them!
Bloggers, influencers and journalists together with the beautiful Israeli buddies. (Photo by Matanya Tausig) | Vibe Israel Tour 2016
- Ayala Singer – Marketing Manager of the Golan Heights Winery
- Daya Tolkatzir – Community Manager of EatWith Tel Aviv
- Gal Mor – Co owner of the Abraham Hostels
- Orit Strauss – Founder and CEO of GivingWay
- Keren Mosessco Kariel – Marketing Manager of Milk and Honey Whisky Distillery
- Michael Hay – Co founder of Vision Hospitality
- Itamar Weizman – CEO and COO of Cool Cousin
- Nir Margalith – Head Chef of Puzzle Israel Catering
- Oren Fischer – Owner at Meshuna Gallery (TLV)
- Oron Lerner – Owner and Bartender at French 57
- Roey Yamin – Director at Nalaga’at Center
- Jenny Drezin – Founder and Marketing VP at SideKix
- Irith and Tali of Halaluv Magazine
- Jordana and Galit of Atlas Hotels
And to the Israeli companies, here’s how you can maximise bloggers and influencers as third party advertisers.
First, read this article. You will come to realise how much money you will save when you collaborate with us.
Know the essential online metrics. Your brand doesn’t fit all travel blogs/influencers. When you are selecting who to work with, check the domain authority, page rank and social media interactions. Not the number of followers in each platform. You have way higher possibilities of advertising your company the right way if you have knowledge about this.
Each blogger/influencer have their own rates/demands. When invited to speak about working with bloggers, I always tell companies they don’t really have the right to demand but they can always meet halfway. Bloggers are not greedy people (at least those I personally know) because they are always trying to be fair. Do not demand for so much most especially if you are not paying and just giving things for free. $399 USD might be high for you but think how much you are spending for advertising which does not deliver results you are expecting? With bloggers, there will always be good results, I promise you that.
A day with the mighty start ups in Israel. (Photo by Matanya Tausig) | Vibe Israel Tour 2016
Let’s all be nice. Come on, we don’t want to fight. We are not built for that. But if you continue to make us feel we are taking advantage of you and that you literally are pushing you are right and we are not, then we are going to have a problem. We have no intentions of stealing from you and we definitely understand where you are coming from. Just be nice and everything will be sababa.
After all, I think all of us have one goal here: to advance Israel as a safe tourist destination. Know that you have to contribute to the better imagery of your country. You are on top of the list of the most powerful organisations who can change the way people from all over the world look at Israel. You are in charge. Do it right.
Of course, if you want to broaden your knowledge about this kind of advertising, feel free to e-mail me anytime. I would love to have a chat with you and help you in boosting tourism in Israel.
Disclaimer: I am not monetarily compensated by any Israeli tourism agency to promote tourism in Israel. Israeli company links above are also not paid ads. Media Trip was organised and paid by Vibe Israel last September. All opinions are my own.
Are you a blogger? How was your experience collaborating with Israeli companies? If you are an Israeli company, feel free to leave your thoughts on the comment box below about this budding relationship.