‘Travel’ Is a Terrible Thing to Market

The oft-used statement “I like to travel” is generally a lie. The act of traveling sucks. But the places you’re going and the experiences you’re going to have are magic. That’s what people really love about traveling. And that’s a lesson all marketers should learn.

This morning we recorded our next Marketing Garage podcast with Lauren A. Koenig, one of the founders of TWIP — “Travel With Interesting People.” (She’s also going to be on our Travel and Hospitality roundtable on April 6, click here to be a part of it.)

I’m not going to spoil much of the interview, which you’ll be able to listen to next week. But one of the things she said has been on my mind all day:

“Saying you like to travel is like saying you like to breath air.” It doesn’t say anything. How do you travel? Where do you like to go? What do you like to do?

Lauren’s point is that to understand travelers — and to connect them, which is TWIP’s main business — your focus shouldn’t be on “travel,” it should be on how they travel and what they want from it.

Travel Doge This is a lesson all marketers should learn.

Travel vs. Experience

The oft-used statement “I like to travel” is mostly a lie. Who really likes to spend hours trapped in a pressurized metal tube, crammed in like sardines breathing recycled air and praying no one’s kid starts crying? Are buses, trains or cars any better for long trips? Even boats are fundamentally uncomfortable things to be stuck on for long periods of time.

travel-uncomfortableThe act of traveling sucks. But the places you’re going and the experiences you will have are magic. That’s what people really love about traveling. And that’s what marketers try to capture in travel marketing.

Traveling is just a means to an end. The word “travel” gets emphasized as the name of the industry and often as the hook for the marketing because it’s a catch-all word that describes the ordeal one goes through to have the great experience.

So when you’re describing what you do, or what you like or what you’re marketing, should your focus be on the ordeal, or on the magic at the end of it?

Travel Not to Escape Life