Travel marketing inspiration: HotelTonight's holiday campaign

What marketing campaigns have caught your attention in the travel industry this year? We tend to be drawn to the travel brands that are going against the grain somewhat – especially those that incorporate some humour into their marketing messages.

One firm that has caught our eye recently with a holiday campaign is US-based hotel booking app HotelTonight.

HotelTonight's latest marketing campaign was brought to our attention by Econsultancy, who note that it was originally launched for Thanksgiving in the US, but remains relevant for the Christmas period.

The campaign promotes the idea there is such a thing as too much family time – something people often come to realise at Christmas, which sees them looking for a break from all the family-centric activities. HotelTonight, which sells last minute hotel rooms via its app or mobile website, similar to the likes of Hotels.com or LateRooms, offers them a way out...

Econsultancy provides three reasons why it works so well:

1. It skews tradition

"The true meaning of Christmas is sharing time with family", we are often told – but that doesn't ring true with everybody. In fact, many might feel that they have to put up with family rather than enjoy seeing them at Christmas, even if they've never verbalised those feelings.

With its "Visit, Don't Stay" campaign, HotelTonight has voiced the notion that people might not want to stay with their family at Christmas time, creating funny print ads which manage to stay on the right side of snarky.

"Ready for Aunt Mary's annual charades tournament?" one ad poses. "This holiday – visit, don't stay".

2. It plays up to the UGC trend

Try as they might, marketers will never be as funny as the average consumer. We're fine with that, though, because it means we can use consumers' wit for our campaigns in the form of user-generated content (UGC).

HotelTonight is well on-trend with its latest campaign, with users asked to explain their own reasons for not staying the night at a family member's house, with the best (or worst) winning HotelTonight credits as a reward. All users have to do to get involved is include the hashtag #HotelTonight on Facebook and Twitter.

3. It has long-life potential

There's nothing stopping HotelTonight from bringing its "Visit, Don't Stay" campaign back out again next Thanksgiving/Christmas. The disruptive nature of the campaign should see it live long in the memory of its audience, so there's no reason why it won't have long-life potential.

Obviously it will need to create some new ads if it does choose to bring it back next year, but there will be a whole load of time and money saved in the planning stage.

Some campaigns will be 'of the moment' and have a short shelf life. However, if you can create a campaign that has long-life potential, you could benefit from some consumer recall or nostalgia. There's a reason Coca-Cola brings out the same television advert every Christmas...

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