How to stay at luxurious hotels FOR FREE? – An Interview with Hen Amar

This time isn’t easy for any of us, living in March 2020. But, we have to be optimistic, because I am very positive that things will get better within the next few months. 

It’s 2020, nothing bad can last forever. Right? 

Anyways, the Coronavirus isn’t here forever, but traveling is! 

So, today I invited a very special guest to my blog, and bring up our hopes and dreams! 

His name is Hen Amar, he is a 31-years old travel blogger from Israel. He has 118K followers on Instagram, and has the dream-job 99% of us humans dream of. 

Hen is a travel blogger, a luxury hotels critic, conducts Instagram workshops for small businesses, and a social media influencer. 

Let’s get started with the interview!

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Hi Hen! Tell us a little bit about yourself

Hi, my name is Hen Amar, 31-years old, from Rishon Letzion, Israel, married to Moses. We are in a relationship for about 4… or 5… 4/5 years I stopped counting πŸ˜‰

How did you get into the travel industry? What did you do before that?

Wow. First of all, I live and breathe tourism for years. 

Since I can remember myself, as a kid, I would read about tourism, travel destinations, what is the capital of this country and that country. I would read and learn about new destinations. 

Before getting into the travel industry, I graduated as a control engineer in electronics when I was 22 years old. 

I also joined the IDF (Israel’s army) late, and after the army, I actually worked in the psychologic industry. 

I was in between jobs and started working in one of the prisons in the country. It was a classified job, very nice. In one of the prisons in the country. very nice.

Do you think your job is something anyone can do?
Or is there any specific skills you need to be able to do your job?

Listen, the job I do is first of all divided into two. 

Half of my time is dedicated to my travel blog and being a hotel and tourism critic. On the other half of my time, I conduct Instagram workshops for businesses, and teach them how to take advantage of Instagram financially. 

So for both jobs, I don’t think they work for everyone. 

If you are talking about the tourism part, then no. It isn’t an easy job. People see it as a perfect job, it isn’t always the best and easiest. 

While traveling we wake up very earlier, to take advantage of when the hotel is empty to maximize the pictures and information of the hotel. 

As for skills, yes you need specific skills. You need to know a lot about what’s good, and how to live well in tourism, what’s healthy and what isn’t. 

Today I know how to enter a hotel room, bedroom/suit, it doesn’t matter if it’s a standard room or a premium, or the highest level, and there has been a lot of problems inside the most luxurious suits as well. 

You need to know how to examine everything! From the pillow to the shampoo bottle.

How many countries did you visit?
And what was the most surprising destination you ended up loving the most?

How many countries I visited…wow. I don’t know! Maybe 50 or 60, something like that. 

And the most surprising destination I visited… I think my first visit to  Marrakech a few years ago helped our love at first sight love story. 

Since then I’ve been running luxurious travel groups twice a year, in April and October. 

Sadly, because of the Coronavirus, the April trip got canceled. But.. Yeah,  Marrakech is a destination that definitely surprised me and definitely became my best friend.

What is the most exciting hotel you stayed at?

I have a weakness for snow, and the most exciting hotel I stayed at was at the Swiss Alps, which is one of the most luxurious ski resorts in the world, there is a hotel named… um… wow, I’ve been in that area a few times in a few different hotels haha

There is a picture of it in my Instagram’s stories, there is an infinity pool. Oh, wait! I remember! the Grand kronenhof hotel!

Do you think a hotel can be an experience of its own? what is the size of its importance in a trip?

Of courseeeeee, of course! Look who you are talking to. The guy that first checks the hotel and then the destination! 

I do think a hotel is an experience of its own, and a hotel is an inseparable part of our vacation experience. 

People can say anything they want, “I don’t care about the hotel, I only sleep there”. No no no no, and definitely not! 

At least not for me or for my clients that I plan their trips. The importance of staying at a nice hotel is huge. People are looking to sleep well.

Picture taken by @adirasaraf

As a travel blogger and as a luxury hotel critic, can you tell us about an unforgettable experience you had in one of your trips?

Of course! The Royal Mansour Hotel in Marrakech. One of the TOP 20 most expensive hotels in the world! 

They have an expensive hotel room that is placed as the 3rd most expensive hotel in the world! 

So first of all, the experience is unforgettable! You enter the hotel and feel like a Sainte. 

The minute you enter the hotel with your car/taxi/etc, it is just an amazing experience! 

From the second they open the door for you, hand you a glass of champagne, they just hug you with love and offer you anything from everything. 

It’s also an amazing experience in terms of culinary. It is one of the most beautiful hotels I stayed at. 

And the experience… that’s the most special thing about this hotel.

Isn’t luxury trips are a serious challenge to a trip planner who refers to an audience who has “seen it all”?
What conditions do you need to meet to maximize the enjoyment of the trip?

I love this question! It is true honestly. These types of clients did see everything! 

The travelers who travel with me, or the ones I plan their trips for, had definitely seen it all. 

And here the little things in the trip are measured by how you make them see the smallest details that can seem as the biggest. 

You bring them to cooking classes inside the hotel with the chef, or.. someone asked me a whole railroad car in Peru, and that makes sense also. 

There are very high standards, because they had definitely seen everything.

Picture taken by @adirasaraf

You had 40K followers on Instagram before becoming a travel blogger.

Do you think that the number of followers was a huge bonus to where you are today?

Definitely not. The followers I had back then are not the followers I have today. 

A few years ago I had an Instagram account that was dedicated to myself, to food, sexism, very gay friendly. 90% of my followers were outside of Israel. 

Since starting my travel blog, and my appearance in the Israeli TV, everything changed and my Israeli followers became a much bigger part of my following, which I honestly love.

How does your schedule look like? How does an average workday in your life looks like?

As I said earlier, my schedule is divided into two. Half of the month I am traveling, and half of the month at home. 

So during the first half of the month, we work abroad. I take pictures, run from here to there, edit, post, focus on my travel blog, etc. 

But when I’m home I wake up very early, and then work out. 

After my workout, I work as an Instagram workshop conductor for businesses. I have two workshops a day. 

Then I go back home, and spend time with my husband Moshe, we either go out to a restaurant or do something outside. 

Because half of the month I am not here, you can also say that half of the year I am not here. 

So quality time is a MUST!

Are all of your trips sponsored/financed? (everything included – flights, hotels, attractions, etc)

Yes, all of my trips are financed. That’s the goal after all – flights, hotels, everything. And everything is always at the highest level, so everything will look at the highest level and luxurious.

How do you make money from your business?

First of all, if we are speaking about the part where I travel and take pictures of hotels, a lot of the hotels want extra pictures and videos, so from here comes the extra money. 

On the other half of the month, I teach business about Instagram, and that is my main income. 

Of course, I also collaborate with different companies with different sponsored posts and stuff like that.

Did you had a business plan for developing your business?

(from a hotel photographer, to a blogger, to an Instagram workshop conductor, etc).

I actually didn’t have any business plans. Which is the funny part, everything just rolled and happened naturally.

What is your best tip to have a successful Instagram account?

Nowadays, the best tip for Instagram success is to be unique. You need to find something that people can’t find anywhere! 

And I also tell this to businesses, be unique! be special! Even as a blogger, a lot of people ask me, how are you still getting invited to trips? because today being only a blogger isn’t enough, you need more than that. 

How am I still being invited? because I am different. I am not a blue-eyed blondie with a six-pack, running with his blonde girlfriend. 

I am totally different from that! Moroccan, brown, more hairy, different.

How do you think you got to where you are today?

How did I get to where I am today? with my brain, hands, legs. And I never give up. 

You shouldn’t give up! You will fall, and get right up, then fall again, and stand up. 

You will fall, but you need to stand upright after. 

Look in what a global situation we are living at (COVID-19), everyone is crying. I open the window and say, why are you crying? This is a gift! We finally have time to rest!

What are your top tips to make money from social media?

I get asked a lot about how to make money through social media. But first, guys, you need to have a platform for that! 

After we know what platform do we have, we start maximizing the platform and start thinking about what can we make from this platform. 

Not everyone can make money from social media. I won’t name Instagram influencers that has 300,000 followers and can’t sell anything because they don’t have the right audience.

How do you manage a successful collaboration as a blogger in the travel industry (if it’s hotel collaborations, airlines, etc)?

Look, I get successful collaborations because I am very known in the travel bloggers community in Israel. 

I am the only blogger in Israel that engages with tourism this much, so I always get chosen in all of the tourism offices in the world that are looking for the blogger who represents the country. 

So…today I don’t collaborate much. But how did I use to do it? You build a personal connection with the hotels. Most of the time you’ll get a “NO”, until that one time you get a YES!

Thank you Hen for joining us!