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Elle Darby “Social Influencer ” VS Paul Stenson “Angry Hotel Owner”

Elle Darby “Social Influencer” VS Paul Stenson “Angry Hotel Owner”

What happened?

This is the question we are all asking and why it is currently such a hot topic. Elle Darby is a social media influencer, vlogger, and blogger, who approached Paul Stenson owner of Charleville Lodge Hotel and The White Moose Café politely asking for four nights stay for free the weekend before valentines day.

Her email and Paul’s response can be seen below:

Dear Social Influencer (I know your name but apparently it’s not important to use names),


Thank you for your email looking for free accommodation in return for exposure. It takes a lot of balls to send an email like that, if not much self-respect and dignity.


If I let you stay here in return for a feature in your video, who is going to pay the staff who look after you? Who is going to pay the housekeepers who clean your room? The waiters who serve you breakfast? The receptionist who checks you in? Who is going to pay for the light and heat you use during your stay? The laundering of your bed sheets? The water rates? Maybe I should tell my staff they will be featured in your video in lieu of receiving payment for work carried out while you’re in residence?


Lucky for us, we too have a significant social media following. We have 186k followers on our two Facebook pages, an estimated 80k on our Snapchat, 32k on Instagram and a paltry 12k on our Twitter, but Jesus Christ, I would never in a million years ask anyone for anything for free. I also blog a bit (, which as far as I’m aware is another way of saying “write stuff on the internet”. The above stats do not make me any better than anyone else or afford me the right to not pay for something everyone else has to pay for.


In future, I’d advise you to offer to pay your way like everyone else, and if the hotel in question believes your coverage will help them, maybe they’ll give you a complimentary upgrade to a suite. This would show more self-respect on your part and, let’s face it, it would be less embarrassing for you. Here is a little video I produced which you may learn from:


Best regards,

Paul Stenson

P.S. The answer is no.

Although I’m unsure whether Elle owned up to the email herself or it came from another source revealing that this was Elle Derby’s email, Paul kept Elle’s identity secret.

In response, Elle posted a video

**Update** Elle had posted a video on her Youtube channel, which was titled “I was exposed (SO embarrassing)”. However, I believe this video was removed. If she has posted another response or anything we can include here, please let us know!

The Youtuber, as you can see is extremely upset, stressed and even embarrassed after the response from Charleville Lodge, as her contact was not because she wanted a cheap stay and she promised it was “nothing but the purest intentions”. She then comments further saying“As a 22-year-old girl, who’s running her own business from her home, I don’t feel like I did anything wrong.” implying that this is not the first time she has approached a company in this way and as her profession, it is totally normal for her to do.

Elle then questions Paul’s intentions confirming that she hurt by this and wonders why her email was posted. Commenting,“I don’t really know what their intent was – it was just malicious”

Following Elle’s response, there was a huge backlash from the blogging community on Paul’s social pages. Which didn’t sit very well with Paul.



Following the backlash received after asking an unidentified blogger to pay for a hotel room, I have taken the decision to ban all bloggers from our hotel and cafe.


The sense of entitlement is just too strong in the blogging community and the nastiness, hissy fits and general hate displayed after one of your members was not granted her request for a freebie is giving your whole industry a bad name. I never thought we would be inundated with negative reviews for the simple reason that somebody was required to pay for goods received or services rendered.


The girl in question was never identified in my original post, but she herself went on to create a video explaining how she was “exposed” with “malicious intent” for asking for a freebie. This kind of victimization is very prevalent in the blogging industry, and is in keeping with their general modus operandi of wanting everything for nothing.


If any of you attempt to enter our premises from now on, you will be ejected.


Many thanks,


Paul Stenson


P.S. Perhaps if you went out and got real jobs you’d be able to pay for goods and services like everybody else. Just a thought!”

Banning the Bloggers?

Now for my opinion on the hot debate:
I have no doubt that Paul knew exactly what he would achieve, as he is well aware of the publicity a stunt like this would achieve due to this being a reoccurring habit.

It seems like Paul’s opinion won’t change on the subject and no one can influence this. But he is clever in his marketing strategy through this coverage as he knows exactly how to create more exposure for himself through what seem like unfair remarks. Wether he means what he says is another question. Or is it all just for the clicks?

However it works, none the less. Paul is very much marmite.

Although I don’t think I love, or hate him, in my opinion I think he’s an extremely clever marketer. But I’d defiantly choose a nicer approach to respond to Elle as it is her career and publishing something like that may really knock her self confidence. I also don’t believe nice guys always finish last, I would much rather prefer to live in a world where people don’t try and belittle other business owners. However, we can’t all get what we want.

It’s strange that Paul reacts so extravagantly in certain situations against, bloggers, vegans, or Brazilians this was not the fist time he has failed to hold back.

Apart from all of this it seems like he has a very nice hotel and looks after his staff impeccably which makes it a shame that he has gone for such a controversial approach to marketing and response to what wasn’t such a crazy request.

On the other hand, I believe Elle has been very naive in this situation showing inexperience. Although I don’t know how long she has held a Youtube channel for, or how long she has been a full time blogger for., in my opinion even with her successful following she still has a lot to learn.

I worry for the backlash how bloggers believe “it is normal to ask for free things” I myself don’t believe this is the case. I certainly know that this isn’t the case for experienced bloggers.

In my opinion bloggers get asked to do stuff, in return for payments, or free things and this is becoming more and more common as influences increase for brand awareness and advertisement.

But sometimes there is a difference….

If you have been asked, then it is acceptable for you to ask for return freebies or payments.
If you are asking, don’t ask for free stuff in the first instance as not everyone is as willing and will want proof, or a further discussion!

Which seems simple to me. As if you are approaching someone, you have to offer them value before you try and take anything from them. For me asking for a 4 nights stay the weekend before valentines simply, slightly crazy. Firstly, the nights will very much likely be booked, and secondly, it’s an expensive and popular weekend which is not one a hotel owner may feel necessary to “give away” especially if he is the one being asked.

Sometimes influencers and bloggers must be careful when wanting to work with brands that have not approached them as some brands just may not be interested. As if they really want to work for a brand in they should use the products and offer honest reviews before even approaching them. This is because if those reviews get enough attention bloggers will be sure to catch the eye of the brand they want to work with. At that point, you have a little more leverage, especially if they approach you as you could reclaim money or gain more free things, as you are in control.

Paul has definitely taken this in his stride, I will now share his follow up “stunt’s” since Tuesday below and I believe Elle has been subdued.

Now, where I have an issue with Paul is that he could have taught and helped Elle a lot. He could have just said no, BUT, he chose to call her out and make a fool of her. Not only that but he will have known that his followers would have gone after Elle, calling her a freeloader and making her life a little uncomfortable. To say the least.

I would certainly say that there has been a case of bullying by his followers, which although he is not in control of, he has certainly “in sighted” the bullying in my eyes because he definitely would have known this would be the result.

Now on one hand you can say, this is business, it’s a tough world. Social media influencers need to put up or shut up. I would like to take another approach, you’ve got a lot of entrepreneurial young talents making their way, should older more experienced business people be giving a helping hand? A leg up potentially?

Paul could have easily given advice (although not his style!) and I think now unfortunately it seems because this situation has got so heated and it seems people are either fans of Paul and hate bloggers or fans of bloggers and hate people like Paul. That it needs people like me to sit on the fence.

I think they are both in the wrong.


  • Do more research on who you are approaching
  • Come up with a value proposition where you are giving more value to them then they are to you.
  • Asking for stuff for free is not going to get you far. Let people offer you free stuff or you offer them free stuff don’t ask for free.
  • Use this exposure wisely, getting the backing of other bloggers is not going to earn you more ££££ coming out of this stronger and making yourself even more attractive to brands would be the way I would spin it.


  • Don’t be a d*ck. (Excuse my French)

Paul has since sent the following invoice:

Yes, you read correctly – 5.3 million Euros. Arguably if I was paying for this exposure they have got it would have cost a lot more in Pay per click, Facebook Ads or influencer spend! So it’s going cheap…

Paul has also released the following “Donald Trump” style interview:

Whereas Elle’s feeds are a lot more down beat, I think this highlights a big problem, a lot of social influencers are young, naïve and inexperienced. They are not ready for harassment like this and for some it will cause the end of their career and they will go back to working in Tesco. That is not a world I want to see, I want confident young entrepreneurs taking risk and making a difference.

Older business owners should respect and help nurture the youth coming through, not incite bullying online.
I really don’t care how Paul’s business does, I kind of hope it does not succeed to show that being “good always prevails” however he gets so much publicity and he’s so good at being bad I don’t think he will.
I hope once everything has cooled down, that Elle looks back and learns from the experience, that she is not put off by it and she comes back stronger.
Best of luck.

If you have any questions about influencing or want to become an influencer why not get in touch (influencer blog to go here long term).

If you’re a hotel/B&B or holiday let owner why not check out our 5 quick tips that will help you market your business more successfully without resorting to extreme publicity stunts!


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