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Episode 25: “Would You Like a Free Meal With That?” The Phenomenon of the Foodie Influencer


The hospitality industry is as much to blame for supporting this monster as anybody else,” John Lethlean, Reviewer, The Australian

We get about 14 or 15 requests (for free meals)  in a normal week” – Simon Gloftis, Owner, Hellenika Restaurants

Restaurants need to choose people as carefully as they would their suppliers,” Kerry Heaney, Social Influencer & Blogger, Eat, Drink & Be Kerry

Influencers. There’s been some pretty serious  backlash  in the press (and on social media) about instagramers and bloggers of late. Many have been outed for buying followers, manipulating photographs and even threatening businesses with bad reviews if they don’t play the game.

So what’s it all about? In the case of food influencers, free meals in exchange for positive publicity. But can we really trust the opinions of people who are essentially paid to write glowing ‘reviews? (And why is it that instagramers in particular often don’t declare their freebies?)

Many restaurateurs and cafe owners are fed up with being hit up by influencers wanting free meals, but can they in fact be a force for good in an industry that’s often struggling to pay the bills?

In this episode of ExtraVirgin Food and Travel Podcast, we talk to a professional food critic, a restaurateur and a social media influencer to answer these questions and more.  

We’ve tried to keep our opinions to ourselves in this one, but we’d love to hear yours. Do you follow food influencers? Do you believe their recommendations? Do you think instagrammers should have to declare free meals or gifts? If you’re a restaurateur or cafe owner, how do you deal with influencer requests for free meals? Are you an influencer and feel like you’re being unfairly targetted?

Please feel free to join the discussion and leave comments below.

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