What happens when your post goes viral?


You show up to your Airbnb booking to find out the hotel is abandoned. In fact, it has been abandoned for so long the pool has turned green with algae, there is a visible layer of dust in the restaurant and foliage overgrowth.

This is the experience of Kiwi traveller, Bree Robertson, whose TikTok post about her experience went viral. We learn about her experience and offer some tips to help your content achieve the same result.

Bree and her partner chose to move to Bali to pursue their dream of travelling full time.

When it comes to travelling abroad and booking accommodation, it isn’t unheard of to experience the odd hiccup. Perhaps there is a flight delay or the taxi you booked never arrives. Maybe the hotel isn’t as nice as the pictures made you believe in your initial research. Finally, in July 2022 Bree and her partner experienced their first.

July marked their one-month of travelling and they wanted to celebrate with a weekend away. Overall, the Nature Villa ticked all the right boxes. It was a two-hour drive outside of the city centre, the views from their room was stunning, and it had an infinity pool. The host had a response time of less than an hour which eased any uncertainty the listing wasn’t genuine.

Bree said of the experience, “I had the mindset ‘it’ll be fine’. I think the fact that it hadn’t had any reviews since pre-COVID times was normal because Bali is still opening up and there’s so many places here. That was my justification, probably no one’s been here yet. But the fact that the hosts hadn’t got back to me – that was a red flag that I shouldn’t have ignored.” Regardless, Bree booked it.

Bree remembers her reaction when they arrived to discover the villa had been abandoned. “I honestly started laughing. I was just like, no way. This is just my luck. This would not happen to anyone else apart from me. It was just an awful day. It had been miserable, it was raining. We’d travelled two hours to get there on a scooter. We had gone to the wrong place and then eventually found the villa, because the address on the Airbnb listing was wrong. Then we arrived and there was just no one there. It was abandoned, overgrown and I thought, you can’t do anything but laugh.”

Once Airbnb was notified of their situation, they worked quickly to reimburse the funds so they could book elsewhere.

Bree explains why she decided to share her experience on TikTok: “I thought, okay, this is something interesting that’s happened. It’s Bali related. I’m just going put it up. I wasn’t expecting it to do too well. I hadn’t posted anything that day because I was expecting to do a beautiful villa tour and just thought, well, I’ve got this instead. I’ll just put it up, it might be of interest to people, and it might get a few views.” However, it got more than just a few views.

Consequently, the comments were filled with people who have experienced similar situations. She says “I forgot about it for a few days because I was very new to TikTok. I was reading through the comments and so many people were sharing their horror stories. There were lots of comments about the same thing. It was interesting because as a Kiwi, I mean, when you think of Airbnb, you genuinely think that it’s going to be fine. But when you start traveling and going overseas, you realise not everyone’s quite as honest as us.”

The TikTok video has received more than 199,400 views.

Looking back on her experience, Bree came away with two learnings about social media:

Quality has no real bearing on reach if the content is good. Bree says, “I had my backpack on, I was exhausted. I was hungry and tired. I didn’t look my best at all, but then realising that’s probably great for TikTok. That’s just what people want. They don’t want to see you looking perfect all the time.”

The reach of social media is much further than anticipated. The content eventually takes on a life of its own and “there’s absolutely no way to stop it once it starts going.”

To illustrate this point, Bree says I got contacted by two newspapers from the UK first. My thought process was, “okay, if these guys are interested, maybe I can get Stuff and 1News.” So, I reached out to them not expecting much and they got back to me, which was amazing. From there it snowballed. My motivation for reaching out was to keep that momentum rolling and then everything else just kind of came from there.” Her story continued to pick up momentum to the extent that an Indonesian news outlet also reported on it.

All in all, her advice for others who find themselves in a similar situation is this, “Always check the reviews and make sure that your host replies. Make sure it has good reviews.”

While there is no magic formula to follow to make your content go viral, there are certain actions you can take to ensure your content is discovered.

  • Research the social media platform and the types of content that perform well on it.
  • Use relevant hashtags to create a greater organic reach.
  • Establish a ‘viral plan’ so that if your content does pick up momentum, you will have clear next steps to take it to that next level of fame.

You can follow all of her Bali adventures on InstagramTikTok or though her blog, Atypical Adventure.

If you would like to discuss your social experience with us, get in touch.