Blogger Spotlight: Carlos Melia, Luxury Travel Curator
Behind every great luxury blog, you will find a great story. Luxury bloggers are real people, not machines, and to successfully work with them, we recommend you get to know them a little better. Through our years at LuxeInACity, we have talked, collaborated and exchanged ideas with dozens of great bloggers from around the world.
Since bloggers rarely talk about themselves – they tend to talk about everyone else instead – we hope to showcase their skills, expertise and opinions in this blog series. Get to know them, learn from them and hopefully you will find an innovative way to collaborate with them.
Today’s blogger is Carlos Melia, a Travel Agent/Travel Blogger/Concierge/Hospitality Consultant/Wedding Planner specializing in bespoke luxury experiences. With 25 years of experience in the luxury travel industry, he is sure to be the best guide you can have when it comes to tailoring your travel plans according to your tastes and inclinations. Direct access to exclusive suppliers and services makes him the best luxury travel curator you may have.
Every blogger has a different story on how they got started blogging. What is yours?
Way before becoming a travel blogger, I have been a travel agent and I have a bachelor degree on hotel and restaurant management. Travel blogging happened as a consequence of that. Clients always asking where to go, where to eat, where to stay, what to do. At that time, I was mainly doing inbound travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina (where I am original from). So I decided to start a blog, with all the info. So when a client would ask me, I would just send them the link and done, instead of writing the same exact email over and over. Well so I did, and it become very popular by viral effect. The word-to-mouth began, and I started to receive invitation and pitches from around the world… from there one…. here I am.
Like most successful blogger, you probably received hundreds of emails per month from luxury brands who want you to share their story. What makes you decide to work with a brand over the other?
I base my decisions on those that represent true travel and life experiences foremost. If I see there is an interesting angle to cover, explore and share, then I am all over it. Other than that perhaps my second criteria goes by destinations. Finally I do consider travel icons… I love to experience them and learn about them, we do not have that many of them anymore.
What is the best pitch you have received from a luxury brand? What is the worst?
I always repeat myself, but the best one ever was and has been living with the elephants at the Four Seasons Tented Camp in the north of Thailand, in the region called Golden Triangle. Second best, to add something new, has been two of the Orient-Express Trains I did, once in Scotland and second from Thailand to Singapore. Hmmmm worst, ha ha …. in my case, anything that has to do with the heavenly island of Jamaica. I am not a fun at all.
What is your take on press releases? Do you like receiving them or do you simply discard them?
I read them, only if they are short and to the point. I keep the once I find an interest on….. and that’s it. I mean it helps me to be inform and up-to-date. Now I never do write ups or posts based on press releases. I am an experiential travel blogger, so I only report on things I have tried myself and based only on my own travel experiences. This is, I think, the key to my success. Over the years, I have managed to gain the respect and trust of clients and readers, based on this commitment.
If a brand wants to reach you, what channel should they use? Do you prefer email, social media or another means of communication?
Any mean of communication is good, either conventional or unconventional. This way, in the past, I have managed to discover true gems that are completely off radar, and truly represent the soul and spirit of the destination and culture to feature.
In your mind, what makes a successful blogger outreach program? Is it the incentive, the brand itself or the relationship you already have with the brand?
In my case has always been the relationship you have with either the brand or the PR firm that represent them. This not only to their own products/services, but as a referral to fellow brands. Many times I have been referred from one group to the other, or even better, when one group sees the work you have done for their competition, then that’s the best introduction.
Of all the social media channels you engage on, which one do you prefer and why?
For the last year and a half, I am in a full on love affair with Instagram. I think is the one that best allows me to express, show and share what I experience while traveling. It is also a great way to connect to new and potential brands.
Which social media channels does your audience interact with the most?
Instagram, but I must be bias here… since this is the one I spend the most time on, and people know can reach out to me instantly, regardless where in the world I am.
In your opinion, what does it take to become successful on social media?
Find a voice, find a niche, be consistent but don’t overdo it. I am guilty of all that, and over the years I have learnt, paid the price and still learning.
Do you monitor your Klout score on a daily/weekly basis? Do you think this social ranking is of any real value to luxury brands?
Hmmmm I do every month or so. Anyhow they remind you periodically. The last I recall, my KLOUT Score was 68, but I must admit I don’t even know that it means, nor if its high or low. Brands approach me, because they know that I having been around for quite a while. I have managed to become a brand and referent. Despite that my readership is very diverse, brands are well aware that I have managed to become a referent for Luxury Gay Travel. This is a niche within the niche, one of the most difficult to access, and one of the most daunting to find the right ambassador to do it with. Over the years, groups like Belmond, Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental among many others, have chosen and trust me as one of the few to carry their message to this affluent niche of market.
What is the main reason you blog on a daily basis? Is it for pleasure, for business or for both?
Both. My business is my pleasure. I love what I do and I am very passionate about it. I grew up in a family of commercial pilots, I have been around the world three times and counting for the forth. As I become older, I have transitioned organically from back-packing to luxury travel. I have over 25 years of experience working within the travel industry, for travel agencies, hotels, airlines, printed and digital publications…. so travel it is my DNA.
Apart from blogging, do you offer additional services to luxury brands who choose to work with you?
Yes of course. The ROI – Return on Investment, behind my blog, is that I am a full service Travel Agent. So most of my clients follow my travels around the world, looking for their next travel experience. It is not rare that I review a hotel or airline, and days after a client calls or emails me to book it based on my reviews. Other than that, I am the founder of LGTNetwork – Luxury Gay Travel Network. Our goal with this networking group, is to narrow the existing gap between mainstream luxury brands and the leading gay travel professionals, press, bloggers and influencers. Our pillars we cherish and promote are: Good-Fellowship, networking, communication, experience, education and trust. So there you see…. I have my blog CarlosMeliaBlog.com which mainly caters to the direct client and then LGTNetwork.org with caters to the travel professionals, conventional/unconventional press and influencers.
Do you think luxury brands should understand that blogging is also a business for some?
Of course. But I think that those that are taking it seriously, do know that. Bloggers have come a long way in the last five years. I always remember my beginnings, seating at the end of the table, being the new kid on the block. Now I seat among the leading travel publications from around the world, offering a more dynamic and global approach.
Do you manage more than one blog? If so, which ones?
Yes. !!!! I do my main blog CarlosMeliaBlog.com – www.carlosmeliablog.com. Then I manage the blog for LGTNetwork – www.lgtnetwork.wordpress.com. For the last 4 years I have been the official blog master and social media master for Les Clefs d’Or UICH – www.lesclefsdor.wordpress.com and for the last 3 years, I have done the same for Fashion Designer RUBINSINGER www.rubinsingerblog.com
What would you say is the best thing about being a luxury blogger?
Ha ha ha …. I always joke about this. Life of champagne with salaries of beer. !!!! You are allowed to experience things, which many think impossible or unreachable.
Have you rub shoulders with the rich and famous through your work as a luxury blogger?
Yes… but that is not something that impresses me. I have been connected to the world of Luxury Travel since very young age. I always believed, and I might be proven wrong, that to work in Luxury, you either had to be born in it, or work for it. Mine was the second, and I feel that I truly understand it, beyond the mere concept of self-indulgent.
If you had to mentor a new blogger, what is your go-to advice to become successful?
I get emails all the time, from new bloggers, looking for advice and inspiration. I always tell them: find your voice, find your audience and do what you enjoy doing, if you want it to come natural and be successful.
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