An Interview with the owner of Taskonaklar Rocky Palace, Cappadocia, Turkey – Executive Interview Series

Meet Tolga Akarcali: Owner of Taskonaklar Rocky Palace, Cappadocia, Turkey

Tolga has created a unique and welcoming destination for an exclusive travel experience in the heart of Cappadocia, a fairy-tale chimney landscape rich with culture and history. The whole region is known as a natural and historical preservation site, and it has remained the same since the 1950s. According to Tolga, the owner of the hotel, Taskonaklar is on the bucket list for many travellers due to the social media exposure.

Meet our Interviewer: David Gabriele, CEO of Swayy

Swayy is the leading influencer booking, campaign and relationship management tool for the hospitality industry. Swayy helps venues find, book and maintain relationships with the most influential people on social media, recently winning the Disrupt Awards 2018 at TTE Europe.

Interview highlights

What’s happening in Cappadocia in the influencer market?

“A picture is worth a thousand words”

Influencer marketing, the modern idea of celebrity endorsement, is the process of identifying people who drive your message to your brand’s target market in an organic way.

Instead of marketing directly to your target market, you collaborate with influencers to get out of the word for you. It increases brand awareness as people trust what other people have to say.

Tolga tells us: “Cappadocia has become the ultimate bucket list destination for a lot of people as a result of their presence on social media”.

The nature of the location is very picturesque, which plays an important role in attracting tourists, and makes influencer’s work more important. An enchanted place where hot air balloons rise every morning, it sounds like it belongs to a different planet: what better place for travel influencers to create content and impress their audience…

What are the benefits of influencer marketing in your opinion?

“Influencers are very very valuable for us…we have generated between €600 & €1200 per booking as a result of influencer exposure…We know that the exposure has come via Instagram, because enquiries often attach a picture of a particular room they’ve seen on Instagram”

Influencer marketing is increasingly becoming an incredibly powerful marketing strategy, focusing on influential people with large social followings who have sway over your customers. Most venues in the hospitality industry are aiming to increase brand awareness as well as direct booking sales. For this reason, properties collaborate with travel influencers to provide fresh content relevant to a hotel’s target clients.

Moreover, Tolga argues that influencers are a crucial part of marketing strategy, and that they are very accessible, as they build engagement and trust through their followers. They promote your brand through photos that will funnel your message into the target market. Promoting your brand through Instagram can lead to booking generation which consequently means ROI growth for both parties. Therefore, it’s no wonder that brands turn to influencer marketing to increase awareness of their message.

What are you looking to accomplish using influencers?

“Influencers are crucial for us”

Primarily influencers are used for content creation, awareness and over the longer term, bookings. 

A key goal for the future is ensuring that influencers aren’t merely pedalling content with the same USP (the distinguishing feature of a product).

Tolga would like to see influencers generating different content with a different perspective. He states that this could be done through video posts on social media, and also through encouraging influencers to write blog posts about their experiences.

How are your marketing budgets currently allocated?

Social media accounts platforms like Instagram are popular for their picturesque images and recommendations of places to stay. Hotels need to engage with influencers who love and share the values of their brand, therefore influencers should be clear in what they propose to offer in return for free accommodation. As a result of this, hotels need to carry out considerable research to identify the influencers that rule your target market.

Finally, Tolga states that they are careful with their selection of influencers, and place restrictions on busy days in order to use more of their unoccupied days.

They provide approximately 80 complimentary nights per year for influencers to engage with consumers interested in travel, and they have only 18 rooms.

Top tip: Hotels can therefore adopt a 4x multiplier of allocated Influencer room nights to total number of rooms.

What’s the key to finding the right influencers?

Influencer marketing is becoming over-saturated. It is crucial to spend time upfront vetting influencers; influencer marketing is a worthless movement if you don’t find the most appropriate content creators for your brand.  Whilst it may seem like Instagram influencers know more about engaging with digital content than brands, it is important to look deeper.

Therefore, if you are looking for an online influencer campaign management tool, drop by swayy.me, and ask us about anything you need help with.

 Tolga identifies 2 key factors that help ensure the most successful collaboration:

1. Finding the correct fit for your brand by being more selective, and ensuring that an influencer’s style aligns with your brand values, is a key.

2. Also, knowing your influencers is really important. When analysing an influencer’s profile, try to judge the loyalty and how well they are connecting with your brand.

 What are the biggest challenges to influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing can be very time consuming if you don’t manage it efficiently. As a largely unregulated field, there are many challenges when it comes to applying influencer marketing campaigns.

Tolga states 2 challenges that influencer marketing is facing:

1. Fake followers is becoming an increasingly prevalent issue when venues are selecting influencers. You need extra work to evaluate brand ambassadors, which is hugely time consuming.

2. Furthermore, influencers, as a rule, divide their attention between one or two social media platforms, with Instagram coming in at number one, which means blog posts are lacking engagement compared to Instagram posts. 

What should the future hold?

As businesses realise the influence in the industry is vested in social, hotel-based content creators, we have no doubt that brands will continue to focus their efforts on collaborations with influencers.

It would appear that traditional advertising can no longer offer brands the awareness they need, therefore we expect to see the power of hotel influencer marketing grow, to give brands effective ways to reach consumers.

Influencer marketing is a crucial marketing tool in Cappadocia, and all over world now for any properties that have a story to tell. According to Tolga, “the future needs to see more content from traditional content creators and multiple channel influencers“.

How can Swayy help?

Swayy is the hospitality industry’s leading online influencer booking tool. It helps brands and influencers build productive relationships, and deals with the kinds of problems that Tolga identified in his interview. Swayy saves time, hassle and effort for venues, agencies and influences.

What are your thoughts on Swayy?

“Overall it’s a great tool…it makes sense the more influencers you work with”.

To find out more top tips from industry experts at the top of their game, check out the rest of our Executive Interview Series!

Interested in working with full time, pre-vetted hotel influencers? Click here to find out how Swayy can help you. If you are an influencer interested in a collaboration, read up on what we can do for you.


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