Earlier this week I commented on a blog I had stumbled across for the first time. The blog owner commented back on one of my posts and then sent me this email:
I just thought I'd drop you a line to say that, if you ever wanted a blogger to review your place in exchange for a free stay, then I'd be very excited to do so. I'm sure you must get loads of offers like this (your use of social media is top-notch), but I just thought I'd add my name to the pile.
As for dates, we're going on a free Mark Warner holiday in July, which I won through Mumsnet, or I'd suggest one of the dates you've put in your post. My child is starting school in September, so we're a bit restricted by dates after that, but we're willing to be flexible. Last-minute breaks are always an option.
I hope that it's shining as beautifully there with you, as it is here with us!"
I have actually found that I am very annoyed by this email. I have never had any other contact with this blogger yet she seems to think that she can blatantly butter me up with a few compliments and then ask me for a free holiday in return for a blog she will write about us. She has given me no idea of her readership figures or what possible gain I may get from her blog. I am annoyed too because, no, I do not have loads of offers like this as most people know how crass and unacceptable it is.
This is the reply I wanted to send (but didn't):
"Thank you for reading the blog and taking the time to comment - it is always appreciated.
Your suggestion that I might want to offer you a free holiday has annoyed me to say the least. We are a small business who secures a good number of bookings for the gite through our own successful marketing and presence on social media as well as repeat bookings and recommendations. We are not a large company like Mark Warner who can afford the luxury of offering a free holiday amongst the thousands they sell every year. You are, in effect, asking us to pay out for what it costs to operate the gite for your stay here (electricity, gas, cleaning, linen washing, welcome box, wear and tear, tax, insurance etc) whilst you enjoy all the spoils of a free holiday. Our only potential gain is that from your subsequent blog we *may* get some more bookings.
You also say that your child starts school in September so you would be restricted to school holidays - since opening we have always secured bookings on all school holiday weeks at the full asking price.
Simon and I have worked very hard to build up the business that is Eco-Gites of Lenault. We converted a derelict barn into a high quality gite with our own savings and have provided holidays to over 70 families from 14 different countries. We have been rewarded by many repeat bookings, recommendations and excellent reviews. No-one has ever asked for a freebie as they appreciate the excellent value of what we provide. In fact the most anyone has ever asked for is a few extra of my home-made biscuits in their welcome pack as they had enjoyed them so much on their first visit. Some have written blog posts and even published promotional videos about Eco-Gites of Lenault, asking for nothing in return.
I am really pleased that your blog has won you a free holiday with Mark Warner. But please bear this in mind:- how would you feel if your boss were to ask that next week you worked for no wages and paid out on all the necessary expenses as well? That is what you are asking us to do."
Maybe you think that all she was doing was asking because if you don't ask you don't get and I have overreacted? I would be very interested to hear from your views especially if you are some-one who asks for freebies or if you are a cottage/gite owner who has had this type of enquiry.