I should be a better person than to write this post, but I’m one short of my three-posts-a-month goal, I get a ton of these sorts of requests, and I’m not in line for sainthood. So here goes – I received the following email today:
From: Elise Pearson <EPearson@vacationroost.com>
Subject: Question About Your Site
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2012 16:46:37 +0000
My name is Elise and I manage web relationships for a mountain reservation travel agency called Vail Destinations. I am trying to get the word out about our business, and would love to have it be through a blog like yours. We are flexible with the opportunity, but have found that most people opt to:
1. Have us write a unique guest blog post for you and have you post it yourself
2. Have you write an honest review of our site, what you think
In exchange we are offering a $20 Starbuck or Target Gift Card. Please let us know if this is something you are interested in. If you have any questions you can contact me at (801) 559-3256.
Elise Pearson | Online Marketing Coordinator
P: 801.559.3256 | firstname.lastname@example.org
I do love Starbucks, and unlike many people who may take Ms. Pearson up on her offer, I have actually visited Vail (in December 2010), so I’ll go with option #2 and write an honest review of what I think, taking special care to ensure that my review has maximal online marketing value. I can already taste my lattes and scones…
Vail is a truly amazing place with a vast number of lodging options, so visitors should have plenty of choices. Companies in Vail can attract customers by offering great accommodation, excellent prices, or by employing shady and dishonest attempts to artificially inflate their results in search engines. Even though I’ve never used their travel portal, it seems unlikely that Vail Destinations and its parent company Vacation Roost would promote businesses that cheat customers, provide terrible customer service, or operate fraudulently. They have asked me to write a review for them sight unseen, but that does not imply they are engaging in manipulative online marketing, such as one sees with hotels whose rooms pose dangers of exposure to crabs, lice, fleas and STDs.
Since I have not actually used the Vail Destinations travel portal it is important to focus on what I can surmise from their unsolicited emails. At the same time as Ms. Pearson’s email arrived I also received several spam emails, including advertisements for escorts, pornography, and illegal drugs, but Vail Destinations and its parent company Vacation Roost are obviously very different from those internet scams. Also, while some might find it suspicious and unusual for a company to ask complete strangers to write about their business, what are the odds that they would rip-off travelers? Unfortunately I cannot recommend them without doing additional research, but clearly they would not want to pay for reviews like this one if they were just another crappy travel portal that should be avoided at all cost.