The tourism industry is a hotbed of juicy, creative marketing and PR ideas. Who develops them? Opportunists.
Opportunists are a breed of “idea people” that draws inspiration from anything and everything around them. And, of the four breeds of idea people we cover here, these are the folks you need in your orbit for creative marketing and PR. You don’t need to have ALL opportunists on your team, but if you don’t have at least one in your mix, you’re going to struggle in marketing.
Can folks who are NOT opportunists develop creative tourism marketing and PR ideas? Sure. But likely not in a steady way that makes ongoing marketing reliable and brand image consistent.
FOUR BREEDS OF IDEA PEOPLE
In my long experience in tourism marketing – working with clients from all walks of life, at organizations large and small – here are the four breeds of idea people I’ve come across:
Opportunists: Show them anything and they’ll springboard it right into a relevant idea for your business. They’re the people who say “what could we do with this?” a dozen times a day. If obstacles arise as the idea takes shape in their mind, they work around them. If the obstacles become insurmountable, they just take the idea in a different direction. Creative idea generation is like breathing to them. These folks are the lifeblood of creativity in marketing.
Stiflers: They’re not opposed to ideas, but they just can’t give them room for success. They layer on that one more thing. Try to get each idea to achieve too many disparate goals. Add unnecessary complexity. They won’t let ideas get off the ground until they’ve been so overthought and wrung dry that ideas ultimately fall flat when launched. If you’ve got stiflers on your team, checks and balances are needed to be sure they don’t smother every good idea to its slow death.
Slammers: These folks basically shoot down all ideas. This could be driven by fear of risk or change, love of veto power, or just a tendency toward negativity that only sees the downside. And really? Some people just like being contrary for contrary’s sake. Extreme Slammers can’t be reasoned with; every rationale you offer will face an objection. If you’ve got slammers in a position of power over marketing, be prepared. Your marketing ROI will always be super low. Best to move them where they can’t prevent good ideas from seeing daylight.
Obliviouists: Yeah, I made this term up, but hey…I’m a marketer. Obliviouists (oh-bliv-ee-ists) are actually the most dangerous of the idea person breeds. They don’t deliberately generate ideas, but nor do they actively hinder them. They just don’t see opportunities at all. They read stuff, watch TV, surf socials, interact with folks…and none of it ever inspires ideas. These people may have plenty of other talents so it’s not dangerous to keep them around. But it IS dangerous to rely on them for creative marketing and PR ideas. They’re just not wired that way.
So, the best way to ensure your marketing is fresh, creative, and interesting is to ensure there are opportunists on your team. Whether in-house or at an agency, these folks don’t need to be assigned ideation. Just stand back and let them create.
How do they do it? Listen, I’m no neuroscientist. All I can say is: they just do. They watch, listen, read…and poof. An idea is born. Ask any opportunist how they came up with an idea and I guarantee they’ll say something like “I saw this and thought of that.” There’s no way to explain it. If you could, then I suppose anyone could be an opportunist. “Just follow these 10 handy steps and you too could have big creative ideas.” It just doesn’t work like that.
To illustrate that point, here are a bunch of marketing ideas seen out in the wild lately that definitely originated with opportunists:
Geico made a hilarious TV commercial featuring the hip hop duo Tag Team, which transformed their 1993 hit song “Whoomp! (There It Is!)” into a song about an ice cream sundae (Scoop! There It Is!). The commercial was so insanely popular that some clever opportunist said: hey, why don’t we actually make and sell that ice cream flavor? And thus, the partnership between Geico, Tag Team, and Mikey Likes It Ice Cream was born.
The Vienna Tourist Board recently launched an OnlyFans channel… you know, that social media platform that allows posts with sexually explicit content to be shown to subscribers for a fee. Why does Vienna need such a channel? Because the destination has tons of beautiful art that depicts nudity in its museums. Photos of such pieces get struck from mainstream social media platforms due to censored content regulations, so some clever opportunist said: hey, how about we make world news by being the first tourist board to launch an OnlyFans channel as a way to showcase our city’s art?
Relief, the debt relief app, absolutely CRUSHED it with this idea, inspired by the blockbuster Netflix series Squid Games. If you don’t know the show’s plot, people in significant debt are brought together to play children’s games in the hopes of winning a huge prize…but losers die violent, graphic deaths. Their invitation to the games comes in the form of a business card with three simple geometric shapes on it, and a number on the back to call that lures them in. Relief put their own message on the back of its card, and the opportunist who thought of it should be given a standing ovation.
Plenty of hotels have a dog “on staff” that guests can walk. Many hotels also have partnerships with rescue organizations to have an adoptable dog onsite for guests to walk, and maybe take home. Some clever opportunist affiliated with the Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort said: hey, why do this with just one dog when we can make a newsworthy amenity/program out of it? Behold, the Puppy Patch. Thank you, whoever you are. I will be petting those puppies at some point in the future.
So, the bottom line is…get some opportunists in your life if you aren’t one and don’t have access to any. Your creative tourism marketing and PR ideas will improve greatly because of it!
Shameless plug: Redpoint is full of ‘em. Mount Rushmore carved into a six-foot block of cheddar cheese to celebrate President’s Day for Ripley’s Believe It or Not Times Square? It generated the highest-ever holiday weekend sales and visitor count for the attraction. That’s some delicious opportunism right there, y’all.