The Power Of Advertising In The Travel Industry

Filed Under: Videos

I majored in marketing in college… mostly by chance. I don’t know why. I guess I wasn’t smart enough for accounting. Or graphs pissed me off too much to major in economics. And the basket weaving major was full, so…

I was at some fancy thing in New York a while back filled with people that have more degrees than a triangle, and a lady asked me what I studied in school, and I said marketing. Her response was “oh, so you did that just to say you studied something?”

As much as I didn’t really intentionally end up majoring in marketing (and wanted to punch her), in retrospect I think it’s one of the most fascinating fields out there.

Which tangentially brings me to the point of this post — the connections I build to brands based on promotional videos or music is almost scary at times. On one hand it makes me feel naive for even associating a brand with something a PR agancy can put together, but at the same time… the struggle is real!

For example, the second someone mentions Air France to me, this song and video immediately start playing in my head:

There are days where I play “Adjust Glasses” by Kisses on repeat while working:

Similarly, earlier I wrote a review of the Park Hyatt Washington DC, and I mentioned there was a promotional video on the TV when I entered the room, which I just couldn’t turn off or get out of my head. I asked if anyone had a link to the video, and the Park Hyatt DC was nice enough to Tweet me a link:

Along the same lines, I used to be obsessed with InterContinental Hotels (though that may have more to do with their never ending Royal Ambassador conga than anything else), and I swear half my motivation for visiting the InterContinental Malta was the song they had on their website, which is also in this YouTube video:

While not directly based on advertising, branding has caused me to make equally arbitrary decisions. My mom and I went to New Zealand and Australia after I graduated high school. Everyone I spoke with beforehand said “oh, you have to go to Christchurch and Wellington,” yet oddly no one recommended Queenstown.

But we still went there. Why? For the sole reason that there was a Crowne Plaza (one of four IHG hotels in New Zealand at the time) and I was loyal to IHG. Has anyone ever gone out of their way to stay at a Crowne Plaza? Like, ever?

Yet I’m so happy I did, because Queenstown was one of my favorite places in the world.

View from the Crowne Plaza Queenstown, New Zealand

As much as this all sounds arbitrary and like a crazy basis for making decisions, I wouldn’t have had a lot of the most amazing experiences in my life if it weren’t for ridiculous decision making based on how easily I’m drawn into good marketing and advertising.

Is it just me? What are some of your favorite advertisements/branding that draw you to an airline, hotel chain, etc.?

  1. Wow. You really are a marketer’s dream! I tend to be overly skeptical of everything. So I like to think that marketing doesn’t really work on me.

  2. While I majored in political science and then studied law, I’ve spent a good part of my career in strategic marketing and totally share your thoughts that good branding in creating an emotional relationship creates a degree of trust that increases one’s loyalty and influences purchasing decisions. The big debate I often have with marketers is what, if any, share of dollars should be directed towards branding the corporate parent (e.g. SPG) vs the individual brands (W, Sheraton, etc). I’m a firm believer that corporate advertising helps to build brand loyalty, though most marketers only focus on the individual brands.

  3. what pete said… nothing says it’s time to fly like that song, even if ua has gone down in terms of service and overall quality…

  4. I majored in marketing in college… mostly by chance. I don’t know why. I guess I wasn’t smart enough for accounting. Or graphs pissed me off too much to major in economics. And the basket weaving major was full, so…

    With that said, you’re currently giving James May, Richard Hammon and Jeremy Clarkson a run for their money in terms of having the very best job in the world.

  5. I don’t care how you slice it a degree in marketing always sounds better than a degree in theatre. So yeah, hold your head high. I have no regrets and now don’t whisper my degree when asked about it as I have worked on some amazing projects with some talented people, traveled all over the world doing silly things for a living and still get paid.

    Your marketing worked Lucky. I will be traveling to Queenstown next year. It would not have been on my radar for that trip if it were not for your linked posting. Bet you know where we are staying? Thanks in advance.

  6. @ Graydon — Hope you have a blast, and please let me know how you like it! Hope it’s as nice as I remember.

  7. The British Airways safety video music (and the bunny!) gets me every time I fly BA – they also used it in the commercial. I was freaked out by the Kimpton yoga mat video that they sent to me during a Twitter Chat (i haven’t watched it since).
    Btw – I’ve stayed at the Queenstown Crowne Plaza – great views – I could sit on the balcony and just enjoy the lake and Remarkables all day if there wasn’t a ton of adventures to be had like the mountain skyluge!

  8. When I was a kid travelling to Disney World via ATL on Delta Airlines back in the 90s, I still remember Dusty the Lion. Does anyone else remember him? I would forever associate Dusty with DL even though I don’t really fly DL that much anymore (though I did fly DL twice this year!)
    Another one is the movie View from the Top with Gwyneth Paltrow and Mark Ruffalo. I never really made it a goal to fly in First Class until after watching that movie.
    Lastly, I think you’ve done a lot of work letting your readers know about international carriers like SQ and LH and how amazing they are! I’ll admit I doubt I’d ever have flown LH F or SQ Suites last year had I not read of your several amazing reviews of those products! 😉 Thank you Lucky!!!

  9. Last summer, I went to Europe in first class and when booking, I saw a video for BA first class and decided to book a flight with them because of it. I had a great flight and a great trip.

  10. Couldn’t agree more on good marketing. My all time favorite, which is still, two years later, being used by The Ritz-Carlton hotels in their rooms at turn down. You come back to try room, the curtains drawn, bed turned down, lifts dim and this playing on the screen. It’s sets the tone for a relaxing rest of the evening:

  11. @ ATLTRaveler — OMG that’s amazing! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a Ritz-Carlton to go book!

  12. Did they teach you about Edward Bernays in your marketing program? I’m betting they didn’t. This is a pretty good documentary on the founder of American propa… I mean pr and marketing.

    The Century of Self: Happiness Machines

    I’m glad marketing influence on you has been beneficial for you. I’m not sure how positive all this manipulation is in the aggregate.

  13. Marketing major? for real? Were your classes at UF filled with less-than-brilliant athletes on scholarships? No wonder you could mile run most of the time…

    Anyway, the IC Malta truly looks 1990s hideous from the video, but IC RA is still the best status, hands down. Sorry the conga has ended for you. We are still putting in our mysterious number of nights at ICs each year to maintain our RA status. I will be sad when/if it ends, especially now that IC hotels seem to be becoming more generous with RA benefits again as of late.

  14. Never be ashamed of being great in marketing…………the ability to listen to customers is a skill that few managers have but the most successful have figured how to do it humbly………..

  15. Listening to old BA and AA jingles makes me want to travel and think about all my past trips.


    Being an Aussie, theres nothing that makes me miss home/feel more like home than the old ‘Still call Australia Home’ Qantas ads and when you step onboard QF planes and the boarding music is interspersed with the woman saying softly “You are flying, the Spirit of Australia”

  16. You posted some very stylish ads, the aim is to choose them. So, they would like to affect emotionally. I believe nowadays there aren’t bad ads in this sector. Hotel Chains and Airlines with big budget can afford experienced marketing experts from a good school to make a decent ad or campaign. However, there are difference between good and better, but lot depends on personal taste.

    Beyond travel industry my favorites are Apple ads.

    Back to the topic, for me the most memorable song and ad is Malev’s (I’m a hungarian, so it’s obvious).

    After two years Malev gone bankrupt, people often use this song as a ringtone in my home country. The reason most hungarians emotionally connected to this song and everyone knows it from age 2 😀

  17. It’s been said already, but “Rhapsody in Blue” always does it for me. It’s one of my favorite pieces of music anyways, but it’s just synonymous with travel on UA and I still wish they always had it available to listen to on their entertainment system.

    BA’s 1990s ad of the face coming together on the desert island (to a modernized version of the Flower Duet from Lakme) will always be the be all and end all of airline ads for me. Classy beyond belief and absolutely a marketing triumph for an airline that had gone from being “Bloody Awful” as a state company to the profit making privatized giant in the 80s. And the sound of the jet engine streaking across at the end…goose bump inducing. BA are a shadow of what they once were (although they still long for those days) and that ad is a reminder of what once was.

    For some reason, I also still have “ITT Sheraton” (as they then were) ads on the brain from when I was a kid. I can still sing the jingle for the 1800 number that they rolled out that allowed you to make a reservation at any Sheraton anywhere in the world (a big deal in the mid 80s).

  18. That Park Hyatt video must contain illegal substances. It was on when I walked into my second PH Chicago room and even though the room was far from impressive, I was hooked.

  19. I got to hand it to the French. Air France and Sofitel might not be the world’s best products, but man… are they sexy. I’ll fly AF any day for the little bit of style they add to an otherwise humdrum flight — the champagne in coach, the proper Parisian flight attendants, the sensual ads… I’m hooked. And I stayed at a Sofitel for the first time, in Vietnam this year, and was blown away. Sofitels have signature scents throughout the hotel, and the staff was dressed in these amazingly beautiful uniforms, and the French assistant manager threw a cocktail party for the guests and oozed her charm.

    Which is all to say, are the AF J seats anywhere near competitive? No, not really. Were the actual guest rooms at the Sofitel Metropole in Hanoi anything to write home about… no. But goddamn, the French know how to lay the style on thick.

  20. That Air France video totally works for me. It’s dreamy and makes me want to be there–now.

  21. How were you already “loyal” to a hotel program by the time you graduated high school? Have you been into travel rewards for THAT long? Impressive.

    PS – I really appreciate everything that you write about. I’ve learned a lot. Much gratitude!

  22. I enjoy great ads/promos (like the three recent SQ ones or BA’s original “Visit Mum”) and they are a good way to learn about a new brand/destination/feature/etc. but tend to trust review (esp. from good sources like this blog) more than a fluffy marketing campaign.

    With regards to marketing degrees — people who look down upon someone because they don’t have a “correct” degree are short-sighted. I have a hard science degree but met plenty of smart/fascinating/driven individuals in business and liberal arts programs. Level of difficulty and/or time-commitment varies depending on a university or a professor but I’d say that my honors finance courses weren’t much easier than science courses.

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