Here’s an interesting idea: openly acknowledging, even advertising, the downsides of traveling to sell the experience to Americans eager for an escape. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? According to an article from The New York Times, many traveling companies are embracing the idea of self-mockery as a marketing tactic to get more people to travel. Getting through a stressful journey makes the destination all the more rewarding, or at least that’s what some travel companies are claiming.
In the past, hotel ads have emphasized the luxurious nature of traveling, while glossing over its tendency to be stressful and irritating as well. But some companies are testing out a new approach. A recent ad for Westin Hotels & Resorts reads, “Take back what seat 34E took from you.” Other ads from the hotel chain reference how traveling can disrupt one’s sleep schedule and diet. Westin is going where few travel companies have dared to go before, openly acknowledging what a hassle it can be to get away for some r&r.
Other companies are following suit. For instance, HomeAway reinstated a campaign it began last year featuring travelers experiencing awkward or unpleasant situations while on vacation as a strategy to compete with rival Airbnb. Hilton Hotels & Resorts coined the catchphrase, “Stop clicking around” to showcase the frustrating experience of searching for the best hotel deal online.
Even airlines are picking up on this trend of embracing flaws. There is not a lot these companies can do to make flying seem more glamorous, expect for promoting business/first class, so instead airlines like American Airlines and JetBlue are encouraging passengers to make light of the uncomfortable, often stressful, experience of air travel. American Airlines, for example, is advising travelers how to be the “world’s greatest flyers,” with tips like brining noise-cancelling earphones to drown out the wails of crying babies.
According to The New York Times, “Although it might seem counterintuitive, acknowledging negativity can make a brand seem more credible.”