Hotel amenities can have marketing value.

January 13, 2023

Travelers expect a lodging property to have a bed and a shower, but hoteliers should look beyond that to offer hotel amenities that also have marketing value.  What do I mean by that?  I mean the type of things that make a lasting impression.  The kind that guests want to photograph and share on social media, and text to friends with an “OMG ISN’T THIS THE COOLEST THING EVER?”

The type of things that transforms guests into ambassadors.

Let’s face it.  Travelers in 2023 will STILL be itching to make up for their pandemic travel pause.  Call it revenge travel, rebound travel, or restorative travel…no matter the name, it means they’re seeking experiences memorable enough to feel like several vacations in one.

And extraordinary, unexpected amenities are one small yet meaningful way for hotels to deliver such standout memories.  Better yet, they don’t have to be expensive or extravagant for either the hotel or the guest.  They just need to be unusual enough to make an impression.

Here are five spectacular examples from around the world of hotel amenities that have marketing value:

The Toilet Paper at The View – Lugano, Switzerland

A roll of pink toilet paper sitting on a wood ledge that shows hotel amenities can have marketing value.

Credit: The View Lugano

With its breathtaking setting up on a hill overlooking the Lake of Lugano in Switzerland, The View Lugano already offers a lot in the “making memories” department.  But with the hotel’s “Tailor Made Services” program, guests can customize nearly every aspect of their stay prior to arrival.  And while there are plenty of the usual customizable amenities on the list of options – pillows, champagne in the room, breakfast choices, etc. – one thing is SO unusual, it’s likely a guest will never forget it:  you can choose from among five different colors of toilet paper to have in your bathroom.  It’s a small detail that makes a huge impact.

 

The Bookmarks at The Betsy – Miami Beach, Florida

A white colored bookmark (embedded with flower seeds) with a poem written in black sits on a white background, showing that hotel amenities can have marketing value.

Credit: The Betsy

It’s pretty cool (so says this bookworm) that each room at The Betsy in South Beach has its own library, but then there’s the bookmark at turndown.  Each night, guests receive a bookmark on their pillow made from recycled paper and wildflowers.  Take ‘em home and plant them in your garden, and voila:  you now have a tangible and lasting memory of your visit.

 

The Podcast Booth at The Sinclair – Fort Worth, Texas

The interior of a podcast booth with two chairs, a microphone and other recording equipment, showing that hotel amenities can have marketing value.

Credit: The Sinclair Hotel

Every hotel is looking for ways to make it easier for guests to share their experiences with others.  The Sinclair takes it to the next level with a fully-equipped podcast booth for rent during a stay.  Open to both guests and the public, this quirky (but brilliant) amenity rents for $50 per session.  So, from the hotel’s perspective, over time the investment they made pays for itself.  But even if it didn’t…the press coverage alone upon opening earned them a worthy ROI.  This is DEFINITELY a hotel amenity that has marketing value, on multiple levels.

 

The Coffee Maker at the Marriott Hacienda Belen – San Jose, Costa Rica

A traditional coffee maker with a wooden arm and white mesh strainer, showing that hotel amenities can have marketing value.

Credit: Marriott Hacienda Belen

Paying homage to the glorious thing that is Costa Rican coffee, the Marriott Hacienda Belen provides some elite guests with a traditional drip coffee maker to use during their stay…and then gifts it to them to take home.  It’s such a startling difference from the “tech-ification” of the typical in-room coffee amenity at hotels that it stands out in a lasting way.  Not only is it highly Instagrammable and TikTokable, it also taps into the extreme passion of serious coffee enthusiasts.  A win-win.

 

The 3D Cocktails at Fairmont Le Château Frontenac – Quebec City, Canada

A cocktail in an opaque black glass with a 3D model of sugar in the shape of a building sits next to a cocktail glass filled with ice and lemon.  This shows that hotel amenities can have marketing value.

Credit: The Fairmont le Chateau Frontenac

Heaven knows that people LOVE snapping and sharing pictures of beautiful cocktails.  Indeed, at the time of this writing, the hashtag #cocktails on Instagram had 36 million posts.  The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac takes it one step further by making some of their cocktails video-worthy as well.  The 3D cocktails feature a small model made of sugar and natural flavors (the one above is a miniature of the hotel itself).  Once the liquor is added, the model slowly dissolves to create a perfectly blended cocktail.  Delicious drink…delicious marketing.

The point is…not EVERY touchpoint of a guest’s stay needs to provide a snap-to-attention, memorable “wow.”  Too many of them would just be desensitizing anyway.  But strategic pops of surprise can capture a guest’s heart and make a lasting impression.  Hotel amenities that have marketing value can be a low-cost way to do that.  I mean, you have to give them toilet paper… why not offer it to them in pink?

For other ideas on how to make a lasting impression on guests, check out these two other resources:

Tiny design details can make big memories in hospitality.

10 Unexpected and fabulous guest service stories.

The use of experience guarantees in tourism marketing.

December 12, 2022

With a looming recession in a post-pandemic world, you may – should? – be considering the use of experience guarantees in your tourism marketing.  Why?  Because travelers will be less willing to risk their precious dollars on an unpredictable experience.

A rare black Amami Island rabbit sitting nestled in the forest in Japan, showing how the use of experience guarantees in tourism marketing can be successful.

 

But offering a REAL guaranteed experience of any kind could be risky for you.  Sure, you can say “we guarantee you’ll have a great time” (and by the way, here’s why you should never say someone will have a “great” time).  But that’s quite different from “we guarantee XX will happen or we’ll give you a refund.”  So much of the hospitality experience is subjective that it’s hard for you to TRULY guarantee that certain things will happen.

So what CAN you money-back guarantee without exposing yourself to excessive risk?

First, embrace these two key factors:

  1. Most consumers don’t have a clue how much risk is involved to you. All they’re thinking about is the guarantee to them.  So your low-risk guarantee – which may seem like a “duh” to you – still has marketing value.
  2. The bolder the guarantee, the higher the risk. And the higher the risk, the more powerful the marketing proposition.  You need to decide your comfort level on the financial-risk-vs-marketing-power spectrum, and it’s different for every brand.

Second, remember that tourism experience guarantees serve a MARKETING purpose, not an operational purpose.  Indeed, marketing and ops departments often have polar opposite views of guarantees:  marketing would love to guarantee everything, and operations would love to guarantee nothing (because they aspire, but what if circumstances don’t allow them to deliver consistently or are completely beyond their control?).

And since these guarantees serve a marketing purpose, they must be marketing-worthy…or else what’s the point?  Such guarantees set you apart from your competitors and, if they’re cool enough, can attract hefty attention in both traditional and social media.

Gather food for thought from these examples:

No Brainer/Low Risk

  • There are so many whales in the Juneau, Alaska, area that Princess Cruises can offer a whale sighting guarantee on their paid shore excursions. You can spend 200 bucks on your ticket, knowing that if you don’t see a whale, you’ll get $100 back.  VERY attractive for travelers, VERY low-risk for Princess.
  • Also on the wildlife front, tours on the remote Amami Island in Japan offer guaranteed sightings of the island’s rare black rabbit, an animal exclusive to that area. If you don’t see a rabbit, you’ll get a 50% refund.  If you’re up for some light reading, check out this deep scientific study that assessed the benefit of these guarantees on both the tourism economy and the conservation of the rare Amami Island rabbit.  The punchline:  that guarantee is good for everyone…the tour operators, the visitors, and the rabbits.
  • A few years back, thanks to some crafty fine print, Priceline promoted a Sunshine Guarantee for its packages. The promotion covered a shockingly wide variety of destinations (really…July in Seattle?) and the bottom line is that if it rained more than the expected amount on your vacation, you get your money back.  You’re probably thinking… were they nuts?  No. They just had great lawyers that mitigated their risk:

Bolder Options with Financial Bite

  • One of the boldest and riskiest tourism marketing experience guarantees I’ve ever seen actually hails from Redpoint’s own client portfolio. Years ago, we launched a Sleep Guarantee for The Benjamin Hotel in NYC as part of its comprehensive sleep program that included a 12-pillow menu, a Sleep Concierge, and rooms specially designed for an ideal night’s sleep.  The guarantee, which offered a full refund if you don’t sleep as well or better than you do at home, added MAJOR strength to the hotel’s sleep positioning and attracted the attention of high-profile media from Good Morning America and The TODAY Show to The New York Times (multiple times… here are two), The Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, and more.  It was a strategic component designed to attract media attention and you know what?  In the ten years we worked with them, fewer than 10 guests asked for that refund.  So let’s say that total refund cost was (generously) $10,000.  The PR value of the sleep guarantee easily exceeded $1 million in that same 10-year period.  ROI:    The hotel knew their high-end clientele wouldn’t be out to make a quick buck on this offer, so in reality it wasn’t as risky as it seemed.
  • And the Uzbekistan government also did the math. In summer 2020, they offered US $3,000 to any visitor who contracted Covid-19 while staying in the country.  This seems like a hefty financial risk to them but 1) were people even traveling internationally at that time?  And 2) It sounds mercenary but that potential $3,000 per person was definitely way LESS than the value of the marketing attention they gained.  So, even if they ended up paying out the money, it was a sound investment.
  • Aruba also realized how skittish folks would be about booking travel amidst a pandemic, so they offered a “Happily Ever After Guarantee.” Billed as “the first postponable pandemic destination booking policy,” it allowed bridal couples and honeymooners to reschedule without penalty for up to a year if Covid-19 wrecked their travel plans.  A bold move, for sure, as multiple properties had to agree to honor the policy.  But it worked, and it set them apart from other Caribbean destinations.

If you’re considering the use of experience guarantees in your tourism marketing, heed this advice:  be playful, be bold, and be strategic about your fine print.  For example:

When you evaluate carefully and do the math, such guarantees may not be so risky after all.  Consider any claimed refunds as a “marketing investment.”

And hey, while we’re doing math and looking at your P&L, see here why you can’t find love on a spreadsheet.

How to promote your brand’s weaknesses strategically.

December 9, 2022

Of course all brands want to promote their good side, but is it possible to promote your brand’s weaknesses strategically?  You bet it is.  In many cases, there’s an upside to promoting your “bad side.”

The fact is, you’re not perfect and consumers know it.  Today’s consumers are savvier than ever, and you know what they want from you?  Authenticity.   They don’t want you to gloss over your issues and they want to engage with you based on clear expectations.  When you do this, it earns their respect.  Indeed, TikTok is a channel surging in popularity precisely because it’s a home for authentic, unpolished content.

Many brands have leaned into this sentiment, finding ways to turn a negative into a positive.  And in doing so, they reap the rewards…not just in engagement but often also in revenue.

Here are four strategic examples of organizations – from various industries – who promote their brand’s weaknesses strategically with great success.

Sun-Maid:  Candy is better than raisins and we know it.

Who wants raisins in their trick-or-treating haul?  No one, that’s who.  And yet, for years, Sun-Maid tried to promote their raisins as a healthy alternative to Halloween candy.  Recently, they finally realized that’s an uphill battle they’ll never win.  As marketing director Fernando Herrara says:

So, they began a series of annual Halloween marketing activations and video campaigns to position Sun-Maid raisins as a trick-or-treat villain, scaring kids everywhere.  The fun twist gets folks to laugh with them and communicates a cool, authentic vibe for the brand.  Most recently, the brand took over an entire town, complete with Raisin Zombies and a ton of interactive elements.  See the video and read about the seriously impressive results here.

Vancouver Island:  Come here for the rainstorms.

Unless deliberately engaging in winter activities like skiing, travelers most often wish for sunny warm weather on vacation.  But this creates a challenge for destinations, splitting their annual tourism calendar into high seasons and low seasons.  That’s not ideal, as a destination wants (and needs) year-round economic stability.  And if tourism is a key driver of their economy, they must make low season more attractive to visitors while still managing expectations and providing a worthwhile experience.

On the west coast of Canada, British Columbia’s Vancouver Island is far from a sunny warm climate during November through February.  Yet, it’s also far from being considered a “low season” in the tourism industry because it’s Storm Season.

Two people in yellow rain gear stand at the edge of the ocean with rough seas as part of the Wickaninnish Inn's Storm Watching package, which is an excellent example of how to promote your brand's weaknesses strategically.

 

Winter storms on this coast are breathtaking and dramatic, and the region has transformed storm watching into a key attraction during Storm Season.  Properties like Tofino’s luxurious Wickaninnish Inn have made a booming business out of Storm Watching Packages from November through February.  Guests get outfitted with full rain gear and are treated to a host of cozy and warm amenities when they come in from the storm.  And with average nightly rates from CAD $553 – $833, it’s hard to believe that would be considered low or off season.

Hockey Legend Denis Potvin:  I don’t suck…buy my socks.

As sports rivalries go, the hockey divide between the New York Islanders and New York Rangers fans ranks among the most intense.  So much so that Ranger fans are STILL pissed about something legendary NY Islander Denis Potvin did to one of the Ranger players back in 1979.

How do we know they’re still pissed about it? Because to this day, more than 40 years later, Ranger fans still chant – loudly, as one – POTVIN SUCKS every time the Rangers play the Islanders.  And yet Denis Potvin retired in 1988.

It seems that after 40 years of being booed, Denis has finally figured out a way to earn their respect…if not exactly shut them up.  He launched a collection of “Potvin Socks.”

 

Three pairs of Denis "Potvin Socks" in orange, blue, and white, which are excellent examples of how to promote your brand's weaknesses strategically.

 

Ranger fans may still hate both Denis and the Islanders, but there’s no denying this bold and sassy move adds some fun spice to the rivalry.  And the best part?  A portion of the proceeds from each sale goes to the NY Islanders children’s foundation.  Come ON, Ranger fans… it’s for the kids!  Get them here.

Destinations Everywhere:  Mud is good clean fun.

Colorado.  New York.  Vermont.  Utah.  New Hampshire.  Maine.  And a slew of other creative destinations have aligned with the motto “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

Mountainous destinations with snowy winters end up with early spring seasons that are a muddy mess.  As the snow and ice melts and runs off down the mountains into the surrounding areas, there’s simply mud everywhere.  Let’s be honest, it doesn’t make for attractive tourism brochure photos.

Unless… we make mud the “reason to come?”

A land rover car driving on muddy terrain in a forested area with blue sky, which is an excellent example of how to promote your brand's weaknesses strategically by capitalizing on mud season.

 

Mud season packages and activities can offer a compelling draw for tourists, and the concept of “mud” has a wide latitude.  There’s mud outdoors, like you’d experience with off-road driving.  But there’s also mud treatments in spas, mud pie, muddy cocktails, even “get dirty in the mud” team-building activities for groups and weddings.  I mean, what bridal party doesn’t want to enjoy a tug of war and obstacle course in the mud as part of their lower-priced wedding package because it’s not high season?

Mud season is not a new tourism angle, but it sure is popular with the media.  So even if consumers don’t book, it has legit marketing value and good press never goes to waste.  I’ll never forget when, years ago, Redpoint orchestrated an entire mud season campaign for the New England Inns & Resorts Association.  Dozens of the association’s member hotels participated by offering creative mud-themed packages for consumers.  And one of them told me that a gent called their reservation line to inquire about the mud package after seeing it here in the newspaper…and he ended up booking a $3,500 engagement package before getting off the call!

That just further proves that PR is essential in tourism marketing.

The bottom line is that even though you naturally want to promote your “good side,” it’s also possible promote your brand’s weaknesses strategically too.  You just have to be thoughtful and clever about it, and you can’t be afraid to have a little fun.  Because consumers will get what you’re doing and applaud you for it.

But one parting thought:  if you’re going to go this route?  Don’t skimp on photography.  Here’s what happens when your tourism photos suck.

 

Your belly button is an email marketing tool.

November 9, 2022

Picture of a woman's stomach, with her hands surrounding her belly button, which could be an excellent email marketing tool.

Wait… IS your belly button an email marketing tool?  Damn right it is.  Here’s why.

Consumers kinda suck, don’t they?  They need to be rewarded for everything we want them to do…liking things, sharing things, buying things, answering things.  It’s maddening.

Well marketers, we have no one to blame but ourselves.  We’ve conditioned people to chase carrots and respond to hoopla…which means we’ve ALSO conditioned them to ignore stuff that’s boring, predictable, trite, and unrewarding.  If you add in clutter from other sources, their willingness to focus on your boring stuff drops even lower.

Where does this leave email subject lines?  At the top of your “spend brainpower here” list.

Think about it…all the time and energy you spend creating the perfect email content is 100% useless if people don’t open the email.  And when sifting through their barrage of daily incoming emails, consumers use three main criteria to determine which ones will get their attention:

  1. How much they care about you vs. how much they care about the rest of the senders sitting in their inbox.
  2. How much time they have available when your email arrives.
  3. Is the content going to be worth their time?

And #3 is why subject lines should get your brainpower.  You have little or no control over #1 and #2.  

If your email marketing subject lines are things like “August Newsletter” or “News from…” or even something a little more specific like “Winter Packages at…”… you are relying on the first two criteria (which – again – are beyond your control) to supply the magic “open sesame” of consumer response.

But if your subject line is something like…

Procrastination is fine. (From Pacifica Hotels)

I hate purple. (From Chilewich)

Stick Season – Have You Ever Experienced It? (From West Hill House B&B)

The ecosystem of your belly button. (From American Museum of Natural History)

Hydrangea Heaven at Chatham Bars Inn. (From Chatham Bars Inn)

Because our first shoe had to be perfect. (From Everlane)

Caution:  Do not lick this email.  (From Seamless)

…you’re using the subject line as a lure to snap desensitized recipients to attention.  It’s likely that 80% or more of the emails they receive each day have boring subject lines.  Make yours interesting and you’re one notch closer to seducing them into seeing your email content.

Here’s the best part.  If you pay heed to #3 (teasing interesting content)…and then you actually ensure that the content IS interesting…over time, it’s going to positively impact #1 and #2.  Remember: marketers train consumers.  And the more you train them that your emails are interesting, the more that #1- they will care about you and your messages, and #2- no matter when your email arrives, they will make the time to read it.

It’s a delicious cycle of persuasive marketing goodness.  And soon you will find that consumers – those picky, aloof, what’s-in-it-for-me monsters we marketers have created – will suck just a little bit less.

Tourism folks may not easily be able to use a belly button as an email marketing tool – although for years, we worked for Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square and no body parts were off limits for marketing there – but the concept is the same.  At the end of the day, it’s all about making your marketing more persuasive.  And therefore, making all that precious time you spend creating content…worth it.

Marketers and mental health: taming stress triggers in the marketing industry

October 13, 2022

In this article on Marketers & Mental Health, we review how to tame four common stress triggers that marketing professionals face:  Proof of ROI, Rejection, Tool Updates, and Never-Ending To-Do Lists.

The marketing industry is a hotbed of stress triggers, which can put a huge strain on your mental health if you’re not prepared to tame them.

Any good mental health expert will tell you this:  if you can’t change the circumstances, all you can do is change how you react to them.  And lordy, that should be every marketer’s mental health motto.  Get a tattoo, crochet it on a pillow, make it your screensaver.  Just embrace it.

Marketing EVOLVES, every single day, in ways that are often unwelcome.  Things that were once free now have a price.  Platforms that were once popular are now passé.  Tracking and targeting for ads now have fences that can shut you out.  New marketing channels pop onto the scene without warning.  Stuff changes all the time.  And change causes stress.  And the stress is relentless.  I’ve heard marketing compared to a never-ending carnival game of whack-a-mole, and it’s not an outrageous analogy.

But marketing can also be exhilarating, rewarding, and immensely satisfying.  Marketers are entertainers.  We are educators.  We are influencers.  And we possess – if we’re good at our jobs – an insightful perspective into what makes people tick and how to push their buttons.

So why are we, as an industry, generally so unsuccessful about managing how WE tick?  We live in triage mode, crisis mode, gearing-up mode, and launch mode. Why aren’t we more conscious of adding a few modes to our professional lives that are kinder to our mental health?

Here are four of the most common stress triggers in marketing, and some thoughts on how you can tame them to foster better mental health.  And it all starts with awareness.

Proof of ROI

The Stress Triggers

Your resources – both time and money – are precious and finite.  Yet the quest to prove ROI for every marketing dollar spent goes unfulfilled.  Should you put your dollars “here” because you can track clicks and trace sales, at the sacrifice of putting them “there,” which is more important but less or not trackable?  These are constant, stressful choices for you.

But more than that…bosses and bean counters demand to see ROI before approving budgets.  Few of them will equate a rise in sales with successful marketing unless you can show a direct link.  And even fewer of them feel comfy with the fact that “increasing brand awareness” is a worthy marketing spend if it doesn’t lead to instant, tangible revenue.

The Taming Method

You need to embrace The Dark Funnel, and you need to educate all your stakeholders on it.  This visual should hit home for any marketer (and hat tip to The F Company for creating it):

A visual showing steps in the dark funnel of marketing, which is a critical solution for taming a stress trigger.

Faith in the dark funnel is critical for every marketer.  Some people still print out travel articles they see and stick them in a “bucket list” folder.  Two years later they visit your hotel or destination from an article in that folder, and how will you know that article was the origin?  You won’t.  But that sort of thing happens all the time.  Faith in the dark funnel is a stance you must cultivate…and champion.  Marketing is a cumulative endeavor.  You can’t just do ONE thing.  A litany of things must be deployed to penetrate awareness and incite action.  You won’t be able to track them all, but they ALL matter.  So educate your stakeholders.  Show this visual at every budget meeting.  Remind them that the leads and sales they ultimately see are only the final step on a long and necessary runway.

And remember:  you can’t find love on a spreadsheet.  And getting folks to love your brand is priceless.

Rejection

The Stress Triggers

Social posts go unopened.  Emails go unread.  Ads get skipped.  Media pitches get ignored.  Shall I go on or is that depressing enough?  We put our souls and creativity into our work and when it lacks response, the feeling of rejection is deflating.  This is doubly true if you’re an agency marketer:  you face rejection by your clients AND you face rejection by your marketing audience.  Lovely.  Why even get out of bed in the morning?

The Taming Method

Cultivate your resilience.  Marketing feels SO personal to you, but to your audience, it’s just one more piece of noise vying for their attention.  Their lack of response is not personal, and we all know that folks need to be told something around a dozen times before it starts to penetrate their awareness.  And they may not even see 10 of those attempts because of clutter, algorithms, spam filters, and other obstacles.

So your job is to give them that repetition.  The more you get up to bat, the more hits you get.  Learn from your strike-outs.  How could you swing differently next time?  Or adjust your stance?  The point is… change your perspective.  It’s not rejection.  It’s all just data collection and a foundation for opportunities to change what you do next.  One of my favorite quotes about resilience comes from the Harvard Business Review:

 

 

Every bit of so-called rejection is an opportunity.  Now you know what didn’t work.  So get up to bat again and find something that WILL work.  It’s just a necessary part of the process.

Tool Updates

The Stress Triggers

Major software or platform updates.  New marketing channels your competitors are already crushing.  System upgrades.  New boss brings new methods to the mix.  It is beyond stressful to keep pace with the evolution of marketing tools.  Even marketers highly specialized in one particular field face this.  SEO experts blow a gasket whenever Google does a surprise update that requires them to shift their strategy, pronto.  Imagine what marketing generalists feel like in that circumstance?  Stressed, overwhelmed, and frequently…frozen.  These things don’t feel comfortable to us, and change is hard to embrace, especially at the pace it’s thrown our way in marketing.  We often view such things as disruptors (and not in a good way) that are hijacking our valuable time away from being productive.  Learning curves and unfamiliarity drag us down.

The Taming Method

If tool updates are putting a strain on your mental health, you need to recast your thinking on what marketing is all about in order to tame this trigger.  Marketing IS evolution.  By its very nature, it MUST evolve because methods get stale and people get desensitized.  You want to break through all that clutter you know exists?  You won’t do it by remaining stagnant and using the same old tools the same old way.  Annoying?  Possibly.  Reality?  Definitely.

Marketers must not only embrace change…they must seek it proactively.  And this isn’t easy because humans like to stay in their comfort zones, where we feel safe and in control.  In our marketing comfort zone, things are predictable:  the time each task will take, the steps each process has, the results we can expect to see.  But y’all…that might feel comfortable but it’s not successful.  To be successful, you need to get yourself into the growth zone:

A diagram that shows the journey from the comfort zone to the growth zone, which is one way to tame stress triggers for better marketing mental health.

As you progress through the fear zone (hardest) to the learning zone (a little easier transition), that next step into the growth zone is where marketing THRIVES.  That’s where new ideas are born, calculated risks are taken, and the rewards are higher.  Find a way to make peace with journeying from your comfort zone to your growth zone and stop thinking of tool updates as disruptions.  They are the lifeblood of marketing.

And if social media updates are your particular nemesis, here are four tips to conquer your frustration when social apps get an overhaul.

BTW, hat tip to whoever created that comfort zone diagram, which I screen-shotted months ago and stuck in a folder in my phone.  It had no credit listing on it and I have no idea where I stumbled across it. See “Proof of ROI” section above…I rest my case, but I wish they had put their logo on it.

Never-Ending To-Do List

The Stress Triggers

Is this category not self-explanatory?  You’re…never…done.  The work generates itself and never stops.  If you’re in PR, there’s always one more journalist to pitch or one more angle to try.  If you’re in visual design, there’s always one more version you know you’ve got in you to create.  And if you’re a department manager or a solo marketer, it’s even worse.  You put it on the website, but then you have to tweet it, post it, email it, promote it, pay for clicks, share onsite, educate staff…and keep doing it.  Do we have the right video?  Was the photo arresting enough?  Is the copy punchy enough?  If it’s not getting attention, how can you spin it a different way so it sounds new?  It’s exhausting.

And here’s what happens:  burnout, 12-hour days, and really stressful Sunday nights as you look at the week ahead.  Also:  to-do lists that mock you, task management software that dings you so much it’s become white noise, and a persistent, oppressive feeling you could be doing more.

But who sets the boundary on where “more” ends?

The Taming Method

You do.  YOU set the boundary on where “more” ends.  Marketing is – while lives aren’t usually at stake – a lot like triage in an emergency room.  Not everything is a heart attack requiring a triple bypass.  And at some point, patients you’ve tended for a long time need to be released. New projects, tasks, and opportunities fly at you daily and you’ve got to make quick judgment calls on what gets attention now, what can wait until next week, and what doesn’t merit a single brain cell of thought.

Let me be crystal clear and super blunt:  you will never do all the things that “could” be done.  So you need to get super choosy about selecting things that “should” be done.  This is about managing expectations, both for yourself and for your boss/stakeholders.  And this is about TIME, the only non-renewable resource in marketing.

Marketers are often people-pleasers and over-achievers, and that makes us want to do it all.  But that’s physically, emotionally, and mentally impossible.  Yet, setting boundaries for ourselves – hours worked in a week, limits on campaign legs to pursue, tasks we agree to take on – is something that many marketers find incredibly difficult.  So, if that’s you, here are a few resources to help you out:

Learn how to stop chronically overcommitting your time here.

Learn how to recast your time to spend it more productively here.

And learn how to embrace JOMO – the Joy of Missing Out – here.

Overall, there’s no denying that marketing can have a strong negative impact on your mental health unless you learn to tame the stress triggers.  Awareness is key:  what are YOUR stress triggers and how can you tame them?  Of course, the four stress triggers explored above are just a few of the most common. Because if I listed them all, that would make this article way too long to read… and that would only stress you out more.  😉

Six surprising things you can rent by the hour.

October 13, 2022

The tourism industry changed dramatically when platforms like VRBO and Airbnb enabled travelers to forgo hotels for a vacation home rental. But not only did this change traditional tourism lodging models…it gave “regular people” a thirst for renting their stuff to tourists, thrill seekers, and folks looking to relax.  I mean…why stop at lodging?

And suddenly, the apps and online matching platforms were born.  Here are six surprising things you can rent by the hour, from regular people who have something you want and don’t/can’t own yourself.

A Garden

Love gardening or want to try growing some veggies, and don’t have your own patch of land for the pleasure?  The platform Shared Earth matches people who have plots of unused land with aspiring gardeners in their area.  Through the in-app messaging system, you can get information about the sunlight, soil quality, and other pertinent facts to help you determine if that particular land is suitable for the types of things you want to grow.  Tourism professionals…take note here.  Got some land you could share with the community this way?  Worth considering.

A Swimming Pool

Want an escape but can’t afford the time/money for a vacation?  Rent someone’s swimming pool and yard by the hour through Swimply (which might be the most perfect brand name on the planet). You plug in your desired location and time and voila…a list of pools for rent and their photos are shown.  Then you just book and go.  One gent raked in nearly $200,000 just renting out his pool over the course of two years.  The only downside to such a perfect brand name comes when you want to develop new revenue streams:  Swimply is beta testing Swimply Spaces, through which you can rent people’s tennis courts, private gyms, and more.  Cool idea but it dilutes the power of the name.

An aqua blue swimming pool with a stone waterfall feature is just one of the six surprising things you can rent by the hour.

A Boat

Why buy a ticket for a boating experience with lots of other tourists?  Rent your own for an hour or two – even with a private captain and/or crew – from someone who has a boat to rent out as a side hustle.  The Boatsetter app will match you with your perfect boating experience in your preferred location.  Yachts, fishing boats, party boats, pontoon boats, sailboats…even jet skis are available.  And the locations are pretty diverse, with both ocean and lake options across the US.

Outdoor Sporting Gear

In another example of a perfect brand name getting diluted through expansion, Spinlister began as a way for folks to rent bikes of all kinds, from touring to mountain and everything in between.  Over time, it grew to feature a wide range of outdoor gear like surfboards, stand-up paddle boards, skis, and more.  This makes total sense for folks who are casual outdoor enthusiasts that have neither the inclination nor the storage space to own their own gear.  Tourism professionals…take note here:  there’s a Spinlister Pro version available for businesses, so if you want to lure in all those folks staying in Airbnb’s around your community, this might be a gateway.

A Yard for Your Dog

The brilliantly named Sniffspot – and please for the love of branding, Sniffspot…don’t you too start renting out other things that make no sense for your name – will allow you to rent someone’s backyard for your dog to play in by the hour.  And not just a backyard…the listing options include private hiking trails, fenced in/roam free areas, yards with pools the dogs can use, yards for private use, yards for playing with other dogs, yards with doggie agility courses, and more.  At prices that range from $5 – $20 (ish) per hour, it’s an incredible value…even if you have your own yard for your dog, but occasionally want to rent one with a pool or agility course to give your pup its own mini-vacation.

A black dog and a brown dog running fast in a large yard, one of the six surprising things you can rent by the hour.

Your Driveway

If you’re fortunate enough to have a driveway, garage, or any kind of owned area that could be a parking spot in a densely populated area (where scoring a parking space is like winning the lottery), you can rent it out through SpotHero.  At first glance, the website looks like it’s only used by big companies and parking garages, but regular folks can rent out their home spot here too…by the hour, day, week, or month.  It’s a super helpful service for people who don’t have time to waste looking for a parking spot, but don’t want to pay the exorbitant fees often charged by garages, stadiums, and (sorry tourism industry) urban hotels.

And in addition to these six surprising things you can rent by the hour, here’s a bonus:  Fat Llama.  Want to rent a painting?  A photography lighting umbrella?  A scooter?  A sewing machine?  A ukulele?  A drone?  A power drill?  You can find it all (and more) at Fat Llama.

Now THERE’S a brand name that can handle expansion into any category.  Because…random.

For some memorable examples of when tourism businesses treated me with the same kind of personal relationship vibe you get from these “regular person” rentals, check out these 10 unexpected (and fabulous) tourism guest service stories.

Four character traits that foster good timing in marketing.

September 20, 2022

One of marketing’s most critical tentpoles is timing, and there are four character traits people (and businesses) should possess that can help foster good timing in marketing.  You should know which of the four are your strengths and weaknesses, and then understand how each is impacting your marketing success.

Why?  Because in marketing, you should play to your strengths.  And if you want to execute the kind of marketing campaigns that aren’t a good match for your weaknesses, you’re going to waste time and money…guaranteed.

Do a little soul searching about yourself and your company’s traits and behaviors to see where you stand on these four essential character traits:

1. The Decisiveness to Act Quickly

For some marketing concepts, especially those tied to a trend or current events, you need to act NOW.  The power of social media only heightens this urgency.  Your window for success may only be 24 hours, and even launching something just two days later will fall flat and yield you zero ROI.

A fabulous recent example of this comes from startup coffee company Cometeer.  When investment bank Goldman Sachs announced it was ending the free cold brew perk previously offered in its NYC HQ, Cometeer had a free coffee table set up right outside of the bank’s building just 16 hours after the announcement was made.  Here’s how they made it happen.  Had they done it even just a week later, the news value would have been too low to make it worthy of notice.  It HAD to be linked in time to the announcement that the cold brew perk was being discontinued.

Tip:  What if this is your weakness?  Steer clear of marketing concepts and campaigns that will be a complete failure without tight, precision timing.  You may want to do them oh-so-badly, but you’ll just be frustrated that they didn’t work as well for you as they did for other companies you envy.  Years ago, on the day American Airlines announced it would now charge a $25 fee for checked baggage (an industry first at the time), we put our client Loews Hotels in the media spotlight by announcing ON THE SAME DAY that Loews would give a $25 credit to all incoming guests who flew American and checked a bag.  That Loews Baggage Buy Back Program was in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and more the moment we pitched it.  Media wanted to share it in conjunction with news about the American Airlines fee.  Had we pitched it a week later, the airline fee story would have been old news, and no one would have cared.

At the time, we had another hotel brand client who saw what we did for Loews and said, “we want an idea like that for us!”  And it’s just not that simple.  That was a client who took four weeks just to approve a simple weekend package press release.  They would never be able to turn around such operational decisions across dozens of hotels (and approve the pitch copy) quickly enough to catch the news wave.  So we’d be doing them a huge disservice and wasting their money if we forced them to try.  A business that can’t make decisions quickly has more success with marketing concepts that have a nice long runway and lots of wiggle room for timing bottlenecks.

2. The Willpower to Wait

OK so maybe you’re awesome at making decisions and acting quickly, but sometimes good timing requires that you have the willpower to wait.  Jumping the gun – before the facts are in, before the campaign is REALLY ready, before details are agreed – can not only tank your marketing ROI, but it can also cause you real harm.  A few examples we’ve seen in our time as marketing and PR counselors:

  • A government official at a destination wouldn’t wait for talking points following a violent hate crime against a tourist. Instead, he insisted on speaking with the press immediately and gave his opinion on the situation without knowing the facts.  Turns out, the facts belied his opinion in a BIG way, and the destination suffered immeasurably for it…not to mention the fact that they had to pay us a fortune in crisis management fees for damage control.
  • I can’t even count the number of times a hotel has pushed us (against our advice, I promise) to launch a package – through PR or an email blast or social post – BEFORE they’ve got all the details finalized on the website and BEFORE they’ve shared it with their reservation and front desk agents. They want to “get it out there and start selling,” but they don’t seem to get how much this harms them.  When consumers want more information (or to book) and can’t make it happen, they get frustrated.  So not only does the hotel NOT get the sale, now they’ve pissed people off.
  • I also recall a colleague being traumatized by the fact that she was “forced” to announce a huge brand partnership in the media and on social channels before the contract was finalized. The owners were trying to secure more hotel management deals and felt it would be a huge feather in their cap to have that cool partnership announced as they were engaging in other negotiations.  When the partnership fell through before the deal even got signed, the harm to their image – and their business – was excessive under the circumstances.  They earned an unwelcome gold medal in backpedaling, for sure.

Tip:  What if this is your weakness?  This one’s tough, because it’s psychological and personality driven.  You need to be aware that it’s in your nature and admit to yourself that your impulsiveness can do your marketing great harm.  In this case, you need to surround yourself with cool-headed sounding boards who can objectively rein you in when you’re about to go rogue.  And then – sorry if this is super blunt, but I say it for your own good – you need the humility to listen to them.

3. The Resistance to Complicate Things

Lack of this resistance is definitely the most common weakness we see (when it comes to marketing), and often goes hand in hand with not being able to act decisively or quickly.

The more complicated you make something – too many goals for a single campaign, too many decision makers, too many layers in a concept – the harder it will be to nail successful timing.  For some reason, it’s an incredibly common human trait to overcomplicate things.  Part of it is time and resource poverty.  Our resources are so precious that we try to force them to serve many masters at once.

But a HUGE part of it in the business world is the (often misguided) need to get multiple people involved in various projects and decisions.  If I had a nickel for every time we were ready to launch a campaign for a client, and at the eleventh hour someone said “hey, let’s get Jeff’s opinion on this before we flip the switch.”  Inevitably, Jeff has something to add that derails the timeline and – I’m sorry to say – is most often not helpful.  But we made Jeff happy by looping him in so… Politics 1; Marketing Success 0.

There’s a principle called Brooks’ Law that was originally created to address communication challenges among software project teams.  But it really applies to ANY type of team working and making decisions together, like a marketing team and its extended family (executives, operations, etc.).  Visually, it shows lines of communication necessary for various team sizes, like this:

 

One of the four character traits that foster good timing in marketing, this diagram of Brooks' Law shows how larger teams require exponential lines of communication.

 

In associations, governments, and large companies, it’s not unusual to find a committee of 10 or more involved in projects and decisions.  Do you see how complicated those visuals are?  That’s an accurate reflection of the logistics required to get consensus.  So it shouldn’t be a surprise that these types of organizations find it hard to achieve perfect timing…it’s just too darned complicated.

Tip:  What if this is your weakness?  There’s no easy fix for this one, other than to say steer clear of marketing concepts that require tight timing or “drop dead precision launch dates.”  You may not be able to capitalize on current events or hot news topics, but you CAN give yourself a lengthy runway to get ducks in a row long before an important event will take place.  See how we did this for the four provinces of Atlantic Canada, making a social media splash the moment the Canadian border opened during the pandemic.

4. The Discipline to Stay Abreast of the News

Marketing needs to sit well within the context of what’s going on in the world.  Being oblivious to current events can have unfortunate timing consequences, from ill-timed insensitivities to launching a product/service you claim is “a first”…when it’s been done before.

A recent, cringeworthy example of this is when the television show Canada’s Drag Race tweeted “This crown is up for grabs” on the day Queen Elizabeth II died.  Obviously, they meant the drag race crown, but ugh… the tweet was pummeled with criticism and had to be deleted.  This is a helpful lesson that pre-scheduling social posts can be a useful tool, but unless you stay abreast of the news, it could backfire.

Redpoint nearly fell prey to this once with our popular tourism marketing newsletter Tickled Red.  For the March 1, 2022 issue, the subject line was supposed to be “Bubblegum and Tombstones in Tourism.”  Tombstones referred to the brilliant concept of Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard… but the issue’s timing was just after the war in Ukraine started and casualties were piling up.  The newsletter draft was written before the war started, but we pulled that story (and the subject line) the day before it was scheduled to send.  It was not the right time to be celebrating tombstones of any kind.

Tip:  What if this is your weakness?  If you’re not someone who immerses themselves in news every day, and you don’t have a marketing agency at your disposal to help stay abreast of news, here’s a quick fix for one-off marketing plans.  Just before you’re about to launch something, hop on a social channel like Twitter or LinkedIn and see what news is trending.  Also, do a search online for keywords related to your campaign or concept.  A quick Google search will likely reveal anything glaring that may conflict with your plans.  And then either make your changes accordingly…or have the willpower to wait (see #2 above).

If you’re scheduling social posts in advance, however, then it’s super risky for you to NOT stay abreast of the news.  So if it’s not in your nature to keep up with current events, it’s best to just change your habits:  either stop scheduling posts or start checking the news often.

Folks, the bottom line is…no one is perfect.  You and/or your company may claim some of these character traits as weaknesses and there’s no shame in that.  But you’ll have more success and achieve a greater ROI in marketing if you choose concepts that play to your strengths instead.  It will make timing your friend and not your enemy.  Reflect on these four character traits to see how well (or not) you foster good timing in marketing.

Want more tips on how to get the most out of marketing?  Check out these 20 tips we assembled from our 20 years of experience as tourism marketing counselors.

Six cool examples of marketing.

September 19, 2022

At Redpoint, we geek out over marketing success and recently, we’ve discovered these six cool examples of marketing worthy of applause.

Utterly Unexpected Trade Show Booth

When we were kids, those claw machines at arcades and amusement parks were irresistible.  But as adults?  Imagine BEING the claw, and swooping into a giant tank to grab as many prizes as you can.  Hats off to Squishmallows for this standout trade show booth at VidCon, where fans waited in line for four hours just for their 20-second turn in the Human Claw Machine.

One of six cool examples in marketing, this image shows a trade show booth filled with Squishmallow stuffed animal toys and a person hanging above them ready to grab as many as possible.

Seriously Clever Video Ads

It’s quite reasonable to assume that not EVERYONE will be interested in watching The History Channel’s documentary series about the Roman Colosseum.  But their marketing folks have produced a series of video ads that give it wider appeal and the best possible chance of luring in non-history buffs.  Meet Gaius Falco, head groundskeeper of the Colosseum (by way of New Jersey?), in these two ads.

Brilliant Branding Concept

OK, we can’t even breathe because this concept is so absurdly PERFECT.  Follow me on this:  Heavy metal band Metallica has a famous song called All Within My Hands.  In 2017, the band created a nonprofit organization called All Within My Hands Foundation.  And one of its signature programs is the Metallica Scholars Initiative.  This initiative partners with the American Association of Community Colleges to support scholarships and fund programs for students to learn trades working with their hands, such as welding, electrical engineering, HVAC, construction, and more.  The program supports 32 community colleges across 27 states.  We’re talking millions of dollars in funding here.  BRAVO, both for the initiative and the sheer branding brilliance.

One of six cool examples in marketing, this logo for the Metallica All Within My Hands Foundation shows a light blue hand with a keyhole and guitar neck.

Most Relatable Billboard (possibly of all time)

Score one for “good old fashioned” Timex, who managed – with just ten simple words and a photo – to instantly communicate how their product provides a solution to one of the most popular, gut-wrenching problems on the planet.

One of six cool examples in marketing, this Timex billboard shows a picture of a watch and the caption "check the time without seeing you have 1,269 unanswered emails."

 

Smart…but Creepy?…Product Launch

This product came out a few years ago, but we just stumbled across it recently.  The Shelves of Life product is a bookshelf that can be repurposed into a coffin, so you can be buried in it when you die.  Wait…what?  Indeed, this is true and it can be purchased, and it comes with visual instructions and diagrams for making the shelf-to-coffin transformation.  More about it here, and more about the designer, William Warren, here.

One of six cool marketing examples, this set of bookshelves can be transformed into a coffin when the owner dies.

Video Storytelling That Steals Your Heart

Bravissima, Barilla!  This video tells a story about Izyan Ahmad (“Zizou”), a young tennis player who had a dream of playing against Roger Federer when he was 11 years old.  Watch what happened five years later.

And in addition to these six cool examples of marketing, here’s one of our throwback faves.  When the baker hired Simone, it started a seriously cool chain reaction.

Four tips to conquer your frustration when social apps get an overhaul.

July 28, 2022

When a social media app does a major overhaul of its format and features, frustration ensues.  Most marketers go through six stages of emotional grief:  anger, resentment, resistance, resignation, petulance, and… eventually… acceptance.  This is ESPECIALLY true of DIY or “one man band” marketers, who are drowning in general marketing tasks and have little time to learn the new rules of the game in one particular specialty.

Instagram is on a path to emulate TikTok, and even though it’s been a rocky start, they are committed to getting there. Twitter is rolling out a “notes” feature, which lets you tweet long-form content.  YouTube Shorts was launched in 2021 and yet many brands have been slow to tap its potential (even though the platform gets an average of 15 billion daily views).

A blond woman in a blue dress holds her head in frustration over the latest social media app overhauls.

For marketers, changes like that can be utterly exhausting.  Sure, if you’re an Instagram marketer (for example), and that’s ALL you do… you’ll dive in immediately and figure out how to harness all the new opportunities.  But if managing a brand’s Instagram account is only one of your 100 diverse responsibilities, a dramatic overhaul of the app is a roadblock that can tank your productivity and wring you out emotionally.

Resentment and resistance can only be indulged for so long before results start to suffer.  So give yourself a brief period to pout and then figure out how to embrace the changes in a way that works best for you.

And if you’re NOT a social media specialist whose entire job is to immerse yourself in these apps, here are four tips to help you get past your frustration when social media apps do an (annoying) overhaul:

  1. Divide & Conquer: There are two things contributing to your exhaustion.  One is figuring out what the new features are and if they’ll benefit you, and two is learning how to use them.  Both things take time, which is likely in short supply for you.  So, don’t do it all at once…research first, worry about learning the skills later.  The world won’t end if you don’t adopt the new features quickly.  In fact, if social media is only a fraction of what you do, your presence isn’t likely to be that robust and so your audiences won’t be expecting cutting-edge marketing here from you anyway.  Take your time.  It’s ok.
  2. Do Research:  The best thing about the internet is that someone, somewhere will have written a helpful article within a day of the overhaul.  You can find summaries of what’s changed, how to use the new features, and why they’re useful (or not).  A Google search for things like “Instagram update” or “Twitter Notes feature” (or whatever) should bring you to the latest articles the day overhauls are announced.  Wait a few days and “how to” articles are bound to follow.  You can also check sites like Social Media Today and Search Engine Journal.
  3. Create and Use a Test Account:  Part of the emotional frustration you feel comes from worrying you’ll screw up and not use the new features correctly…and your audience will see it.  This is where having a secret “test account” comes in handy.  Setting up a second account on a channel that’s private, with only you and a few friends/colleagues as the audience, is an easy way to play with all the new features until you get comfy with them.
  4. Watch and Learn:  You may not have the bandwidth to do EVERYTHING a social media app allows you to do, but you can certainly cherry pick features that make sense for you.  So, watch what other accounts do and try to recreate them in your test account.  This means you may need to follow more than just your local or regional competitors, because if they’re in the same time-poverty boat as you, then you won’t learn much by watching their accounts.  Follow BIG brands, that are bound to have expert social media teams using the latest cool stuff.

And above all, relax.  I know it’s frustrating when overhauls like this disrupt your routine.  Suddenly things you finally learned how to do efficiently are no longer efficient to do.  It’s annoying as hell.  But social media apps will continue to evolve constantly…it’s just the nature of that marketing medium.  So if you’re going to have a presence on those channels, this is a necessary evil.

Just remember:  It’s perfectly OK if your social media marketing isn’t robust because you’re spread too thin.  As a marketer, you have to make choices…and as long as you’re choosing to be robust in OTHER areas that bring you a strong ROI, it’s fine for social media to get less attention.  In fact, we flagged that as #17 in our list of Top 20 Tips for Tourism PR & Marketing Agency Clients.  It’s worth a look.

Because really, at the end of the day, success in marketing is about how much time you can spend on it.

What’s a “newsworthy” animal experience in tourism?

June 20, 2022

In our role as PR counselors, we’re often asked how to make things newsworthy, and tourism animal experiences are no exception.  It’s a valid question because the answer requires more than just adding discounted zoo tickets to a hotel stay to create a package.  To be newsworthy, there must be something extraordinary, unique, unexpected, or timely about it.

Before I review some examples to illustrate the point, let’s just be clear on this:  being “newsworthy” in ANY subject is not easy, nor is it often achieved passively.  You have to pursue it deliberately, and in most cases jump through some hoops to make it happen.  Proactive investments are usually required, whether financial, creative, or both.  Risk – often high risk – is usually involved.  And a thoughtful runway of time and planning is key.

This means that, as a tourism marketer or owner/operator, you must have both vision and patience if you want to create concepts that are newsworthy.

And these folks did.

Here are four illustrative examples from around the world of newsworthy animal experiences in tourism:

Jamala Wildlife Lodge

This hotel is set within the National Zoo & Aquarium in Canberra, Australia. And by “set within,” I mean the accommodations are organically nestled into the entire experience, not a stand-alone hotel that happens to be located on the grounds.  Rooms and suites offer exclusive viewing perches, or share glass walls with animal habitats, allowing guests unrestricted viewing from the privacy of their own space, like so:

A woman taking a bubble bath while watching tigers prowling on the other side of a glass wall is a highly newsworthy tourism animal experience at Jamala Wildlife Lodge.

 

From jungle bungalows to giraffe treehouses and rooms that put guests up close and personal with sharks, meerkats, capuchin monkeys and more… it’s no wonder the website prominently features a “join the waitlist” option.

What elements make this a newsworthy tourism animal experience?

  • The financial and architectural investment to create unique accommodations that offer rare 24/7 access to animals.
  • Only a small handful of hotels like this in the world provide such an atypical experience.
  • Dramatic, unexpected photos/video to promote the experience.

 

The Biosphere at Treehotel, Sweden

The entire concept at Treehotel is extraordinary and newsworthy… a collection of dramatic, high-design treehouses distinctively different from each other.  But one – The Biosphere – takes your breath away both visually and experientially:

A photo of a hotel room suspended in the air from a tree, adorned with 340 birdhouses on the outside is a newsworthy tourism animal experience available at The Biosphere at Treehotel in Sweden.

 

Adorned with 340 birdhouses attached to its exterior, guests enjoy a front row seat to some of the most spectacular birdwatching possible.  The Biosphere’s design is meant to protect and foster the local bird population.  But lordy, it manages to be a showstopper in the process.

What elements make this a newsworthy tourism animal experience?

  • Well, 340 birdhouses to start (duh). Pretty sure it’s the only accommodation in the world with THAT distinction.
  • It’s visually arresting, and photos of it stop people in their tracks, even when mindlessly scrolling on social media.
  • The bold, complex design earns news attention for both its financial and creative investments.

 

Caiman, A Brazilian Ecotourism Retreat in the Pantanal

The Pantanal is the world’s largest tropical wetland, and its 42 million acres spans across Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay.  Caiman Ecological Refuge, with 18 lodge rooms and two private villas, is within the Pantanal in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul.  The 150 miles to get there from the airport are fraught with dirt roads that have no internet or GPS access, but it’s worth the drive because this:

A photo of a jaguar with mouth wide open, showing sharp teeth, is part of the newsworthy tourism animal experience guests can have at Oncafari and the Caiman Ecological Refuge in Brazil.

 

One of Caiman’s conservation partners, Onçafari, is dedicated to the conservation of once-endangered and now near-threatened jaguars with research, protection, education, and repopulation.  Guests can go out with guides to learn more about these elusive animals through up-close interaction.  Nocturnal guided exploration is also an option for those feeling brave.

What elements make this a newsworthy tourism animal experience?

  • The confluence of the Pantanal, jaguars, and deeply meaningful conservation efforts.
  • The Caiman Ecological Refuge itself, which offers guests education and interaction with many other options for sustainability education…from livestock ranching to conservation projects for endangered and illegally trafficked birds.
  • The remote location. There’s no convenient airport shuttle and no public transportation.  You need a special kind of car that can take the dirt roads or a turbo-prop aircraft to get there.  Basically… you have to really WANT to get there.

 

Natural Habitat Alaska Bear Camp

It’s true there’s no shortage of “bear viewing” experiences in the tourism industry, especially in British Columbia and Alaska.  So it takes an unusual one to stand out.  Once again, we lean into the “hard to get to” element here.  With Natural Habitat, you fly in a private bush plan over volcanoes, glaciers, and icefields to get to this remote Bear Camp:

An aerial view of the Natural Habitat Adventures Bear Camp, which is a highly newsworthy tourism animal experience.

 

The weatherproof tent cabins are surprisingly designed for comfort, with climate control, lighting, hard floors and a solid door.  It’s not glamping…but it certainly ain’t “roughing it.”  The three days you spend at the camp gives you extraordinary up-close access to Alaskan brown bears with experienced Expedition Leaders who both educate and safeguard you.  This is no “quick tour to a viewing platform” so you can take a selfie and prove you were there.  This is a full-on bear immersion.

What elements make this a newsworthy tourism animal experience?

  • The remote location. Any place “only accessible by plane or boat” already piques media interest.  The harder one must work to get there, the more interesting it becomes.
  • The layout and design of the Bear Camp. Just one spectacular aerial photo (as shown above) is enough to capture a traveler’s imagination and interest.
  • The collaboration with World Wildlife Fund (WWF). There’s no denying that such respected brand recognition adds credibility to the experience.

These four experiences aren’t all newsworthy for exactly the same reasons, but two things are certain with all of them:

  1. They’re not “news-washing,” which is when a business tries to put a slick bow on something to make it seem newsworthy, without making the under-the-hood investment needed to give the angle true, credible substance. When a program, package, or experience focuses more on “looking good” than “being good”… a credible journalist can sniff that out in a heartbeat, and it’s a turnoff.
  2. They all have extraordinary photo/video opportunities to help tell their story…and the business has invested in capturing the BEST photography/footage at likely a hefty cost to them.

Investing in “hero shot” photography is essential to developing a newsworthy story, as you can see with these tourism animal experiences shared here.  Journalists NEED photography, and it’s only natural that they’d want to use ones that tell the story visually, in just one glance…and that cut through the clutter to get people’s attention.

For more tips on this crucial news element, see these tips on the secret to a great tourism photo.