Refusing to pay the Insta tax, a Philippine hostel declares independence from influencers

A Philippine hostel shot down influencer culture, and now it’s raking in publicity as the debate that it started rages on.


April 4, 2019

A Philippine surf hostel called the White Banana Beach Club recently declared independence from influencers who demand free stuff, proclaiming: “White Banana is not interested to ‘collaborate’ with self-proclaimed ‘influencers.’”

It was a Facebook rant par excellence — but it also shows that long-simmering tensions between travel influencers and hotels are reaching a boiling point.

The Banana Beach Tea party

It’s clear why the Banana became popular among the influent-sia: The open-air surf hostel — which offers beachside “luxury dorms,” signature cocktails, and vegan dining options — is a ’Grammer’s unfiltered dream.

But co-owner Gianlucca Casaccia felt so exploited by demands for free lodging and food in exchange for hot content that he told influencers to find “another way to eat, drink, or sleep for free. Or try to actually work.”

Casaccia claims he only wanted to dissuade fake-fluencers, but the post racked up thousands of shares and considerable media coverage.

Then the debate began…

In a vigorous Facebook comment clash that calls to mind the 2nd Continental Congress, the world’s foremost experts on influencer etiquette debated which party was at fault.

One side argued that influencers work hard, provide value, and don’t deserve public shaming. The other side insisted influencers are exploitative freeloaders, and applauded the Banana for its clever call-out.

At one point, the Banana itself interrupted the cacophony of spicy memes and fire emojis with an opinion that could have come from Ben Franklin himself: “Our workers need money on their salaries, not selfies.”

No relaxation without paying for vacation!

The White Banana is not the first hotel to declare war against influencers: Last year, a hotel in Dublin issued a harshly worded rebuke against a 22-year-old YouTuber who wanted a free stay and later banned all bloggers.

But the real problem isn’t influencers, it’s bad influencers: Small businesses are often targeted by amateurs, but large companies often seek out professional influencers, who can be 11x more valuable than traditional digital ads.

As the influencer marketing biz continues to rise from $81B in 2016 to a projected $101B by 2020, brands will pick sides. For companies like Marriott, that means formal influencer applications; for the White Banana, it may mean more pitchfork posts — and, potentially, more publicity.

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