Grupos Posadas, Mexico’s largest independent hotel company, has partnered with R&R to rebrand its Fiesta Americana Resort Collection, a group of 12 distinct resorts located in many of Mexico’s premier beach destinations.
Posadas is known as a hospitality leader throughout the hotel industry. Its history has been written with passion, dedication and hard work, and rewarded with nearly every significant recognition in the industry. However, the brand has had limited awareness within the United States, with this U.S. visitor audience comprising a significant portion of overall property visitation. Growing the resort collection’s brand profile among this consumer group is a critical step in driving future business.
With this challenge firmly in focus, R&R’s team landed on the brand position of “La Colección.” With luxury resorts situated in some of Mexico’s prime coastal destinations, La Colección, was created around the consumer insight that many of us daydream of our next vacation. Making sure the brand stands out from its competition, we identified an opportunity to inspire the dreams of vacationers through storytelling. Utilizing our brand platform, R&R crafted a compelling story inspired by the brand’s unique attributes, grounded in consumer and brand truths, and designed to create an emotional connection with the consumer. We launched Grupos’ new brand by developing a new website, digital content strategy, and a fully integrated digital and social campaign.
A funny thing happened to me when recently researching airfares for an upcoming trip. While looking at cross-country flights on Southwest Airlines for a route that I have flown dozens of times over the past two years, I noticed a price I had not seen so low in years. Not marginally lower, but 33 percent lower. Surely it wasn’t a typo. Nor was it simply Southwest Airlines’ attempt at being charitable. So what is the explanation?
After doing some more research, I learned that Frontier Airlines recently announced it would begin servicing the exact route I was researching, beginning in the fall. Obviously, the additional competition caught Southwest Airlines’ attention, which, in turn, caught my attention. As any frequent traveler knows, unless you’re flying short flights to undesirable destinations, Southwest Airlines is no longer the “low-cost” carrier that propelled it to widespread success and adoration. In fact, I often find it among the most expensive options when searching for flights. This, of course, flies in the face of its advertising and endless email bombardment – but I suppose that’s an entirely different gripe.
Point is – despite the grief capitalism gets from folks such as Bernie Sanders – it does sometimes work perfectly. Why do you think we’re no longer paying $700 for microwaves or $599 for Blu-ray Disc players? More consumer options create competition, which puts pressure on an assortment of variables, chief among them, price. The airline industry is no different, although it is a very precocious industry with fewer choices than home electronics or automobiles or just about anything else. After all, the price on entry is tremendous and operations are significantly challenging. Yet, above it all, one thing remains true − more airline/flight options translate into lower costs for consumers.
This is how low-cost carriers such as Frontier, Allegiant and Spirit airlines are disrupting the industry and providing consumers with more choices, lower costs and more empowerment. Additionally, as consumer technology and customization have changed consumer perceptions, expectations and purchase habits, the low cost carriers seem to be ahead of the curve with their business models.
To be clear, the major carriers still vastly dominate schedules and routes due to overall fleet size. While Frontier, Allegiant and Spirit are all growing in size, their fleet sizes still pale in comparison. Each of the low-cost airlines has a fleet around or under 100 planes. Compare that to the size of Southwest Airlines (704) or Delta Airlines (1,426) and it’s easy to see why the little guys are still considered little. Very little. Yet, consumers are clearly catching on. Frontier Airlines’ net income rose tenfold from 2013 to 2014. Allegiant Air quadrupled from 2014 to 2015. And Spirit Airlines saw net income growth of 79 percent from 2013 to 2015.
The most common criticism of low-cost carriers is the “nickel-and-dime” approach they have with fees. It is commonplace for these carriers to assess fees for select seats, baggage and even carry-on bags. For consumers not informed or expecting this, it is seen as excessive and tawdry. However, there are two realities associated with this: the new normal and consumer empowerment.
Airline fees have become the norm.
We were asked to feel sorry for major airline carriers when the cost of oil skyrocketed a few years back, causing them to saddle consumers with baggage fees. Yet, when oil prices tumbled to their lowest level in decades, the airlines forgot to raise their hand and inform us these fees were being taken away. Excluding Southwest Airlines, baggage fees are standard across the industry. And the latest JD Power report confirmed that American consumers have given up fighting them – and have become accepting of airline fees. Even fees for seating choices have become more prevalent. If you think the low-cost carriers are the only airlines charging fees for seat selection, you haven’t flown American Airlines recently. Flying a red-eye from Las Vegas to Miami, I was presented with additional fees for my seating options. Wanting to sleep on the cross-country, red-eye flight, I paid $37 (each way) for a window seat in the middle of the plane. Want extra legroom and to be closer to the aisle? That will cost an additional $58. This is why I am dumbfounded when I hear, read or see these types of nickel-and-dime fees being groused at regarding the low-cost carriers. They exist elsewhere. And they are higher than the $12 lowest fee charged by Frontier Airlines.
Consumer Empowerment With the low-cost carriers, consumers are able to purchase lower fare tickets and then make their own decisions on how much more they want to spend. Here’s an example of how simple this is for me: looking for nonstop service for a trip August 25–28 from Las Vegas to Orlando, a round-trip ticket on Frontier Airlines was $215.10. A similar itinerary on Southwest Airlines was $419.96. That is a difference of $204.86, or 95 percent. Even once I pay for a seat ($12) and choose to check two bags ($70), there is still a difference of $122.86. But what if I don’t need to check two bags? What if I’m visiting a summer home stocked with clothes and don’t need to check a bag at all? Instead of having inflated costs and the illusion of “free bags” stuffed into my Southwest Airlines ticket cost – I get to make my own decisions. And in my opinion, that is the point with these low-cost carriers. Consumers are more in control of their final costs, and it doesn’t take much to avoid excessive fees. On a trip last fall with my two children, we chose a low-cost carrier and approached it with minimal intelligence. We checked one large suitcase, instead of three smaller ones. We selected standard seats. We also packed snacks and iPads into our backpacks for the plane ride, as “personal bags” are free, while carry-on bags result in a fee. The result? Overall ticket costs that were more than 60 percent lower than they would have been any other major carrier.
To be sure, these low-cost carriers have work to do. Customer-service scores rank low on Frontier. Spirit is the worst in the industry for on-time arrivals. And Allegiant has been questioned regarding the age of its fleet. But each of these airlines seems genuinely committed to improving on these marks. In addition, Frontier recently announced 42 new routes and Allegiant has plans to purchase newer Airbus planes. But the larger point is that these airlines are a net positive for an industry that hates competition (see: domestic carrier open skies agreement) and is slow to provide customers with the type of service we expect from other industries (imagine showing up for a salon appointment and being told there is a three-hour delay and switching to a different time will result in a $100 change fee and the difference in cost of the new stylist?!). Consumer empowerment and more choices are a benefit to all of us. After all, that is the hallmark of capitalism.
It’s also why you can purchase a Sony Blu-ray Disc player at Best Buy for $34.99 + tax.
Disclosure: R&R Partners has a current affiliation with Allegiant.
Sponsorship marketing: the frosting on a brand’s overall marketing mix and the multibillion-dollar industry that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Due to the continued fragmentation of media (I’m talking to you cord-cutters) and shifts in demographic buying power (hey, millennials!), sponsorship marketing will continue to increase in overall advertising spend for brands all over the world.
One current client of R&R Partners who uses sponsorship marketing as a large part of their media strategy is the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. Las Vegas sponsors an array of events throughout the year spanning awards shows, culinary festivals, sports championships and more. One of its longstanding sponsorships with the National Hockey League features a season-long media partnership, as well as the NHL Awards broadcast live from Vegas each June.
A sponsorship can begin to die a slow decrease-in-ROI death unless the parties involved continually evaluate, evolve and challenge each other to push the envelope each and every contract renewal.
Previous digital initiatives for the NHL/Las Vegas partnership focused on a league sweepstakes as a mechanism for database acquisition. But with the digital landscape constantly changing and evolving, content started to take more of a strategic front seat.
Knowing that reaching sports fans when they are most engaged is the best time for brand messaging to be consumed, our team determined real-time hockey content was the best avenue to explore in replacement of the sweepstakes initiative. We wanted the brand to be organically attached to a platform that hockey fans would seek out, versus the brand doing the heavy lifting in seeking out fans. The goal (no pun intended), was to completely reverse the brand consumption flow.
Enter Las Vegas’ first ever video content component of their NHL sponsorship: Road Warriors.
Using a pillar of Las Vegas’ sponsorship strategy, “All Roads Lead to Vegas,” (in recognition that Vegas is the city where champions are crowned), Road Warriors paid homage to players and teams who had stellar plays while on the road.
The platform followed a succinct distribution strategy. A spectacular road play would occur during a game, the video footage would be clipped and edited together, and then posted to both the NHL’s Facebook and Twitter pages. A branded website on NHL.com housed all of the Road Warriors content throughout the season and also included 100% share-of-voice for Las Vegas creative. To create a fully integrated platform, Road Warriors highlights were shown within nightly sports programming on NHL Network.
The framework was there, but, would NHL fans dig it? Short answer – they did.
Launching in February to coincide with NHL.com’s website redesign launch, Road Warriors saw double digit growth in fan engagement through the end of the 2016 season. An impressive feat when you think as teams start to become eliminated from Stanley Cup contention, those fan bases organically become less engaged, reducing the overall audience who would be interested in hockey content. Road Warriors broke through that trend.
The social posts garnered more than 8.1 million video views and 188,000 engagements. Webpage visits were almost 800,000 with visitors spending on average more than two minutes per visit. This was all accomplished with zero paid media support driving to any of the content, proving the platform was relevant, engaging and organically executed.
But the most impressive stat? Road Warriors was the #1 NHL sponsor video program of the year. SCORE!
As part of the festivities hosted around the NHL Awards, the league holds a morning summit with their season’s partners. I was honored to have the opportunity to share Road Warriors with the group, alongside our NHL account executive, Josh Cohen. We held great company with Tim Horton’s and MillerCoors being the other two brands who presented their NHL initiatives for the year. Brands like Honda, McDonald’s, Samsung and Visa were in attendance to learn how they could craft winning programs similar to ours.
Not only was this a great platform to showcase one of our clients, we were able to showcase R&R Partners as an expert in partnership marketing. Oh, and we were also awarded a Las Vegas hockey team that afternoon, too—obviously not due to Road Warriors’ success.
“If we’re all here at Preview,” I joked to my colleague sitting next to me, “who is running Las Vegas?” A flippant remark turned into perfect fodder for a tweet, yet as I reflect back on the January 29th program, it certainly rings true. A veritable who’s who in community leaders in both the private and public sector in Las Vegas descended on the Thomas & Mack Center for the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Preview 2016 event.
“Future. Forward.” was this year’s theme, and Chamber CEO and President Kristen McMillan led us through an action-packed agenda centered on Las Vegas as an exciting, ever-evolving city for visitors, businesses and citizens alike. Peppered throughout were prerecorded economic insights from Dr. Stephen Miller, director of the UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research. From many statistics and charts, I took away that Nevada’s economic recovery was underway − Dr. Miller dubbed Nevada “one of the fastest growing states.”
After a Star Wars lightsaber introduction, Dr. Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West, took the stage to share how Las Vegas is in the midst of a Metropolitan Revolution. He shared how proactive leaders led the city through the I11 initiative to UNLV’s Medical School to an economic environment attracting businesses like Faraday Future. Yet that was the past; in Dr. Lang’s opinion, the future stems on renegotiating tourist taxes to expand the Las Vegas Convention Center, build a light rail and construct a stadium.
“I think what struck me,” says R&R Partners’ Sara Macfarlane, “is the progress the business community has made of setting goals and achieving them − the payoff (I11, UNLV Medical School) has been good. And we get a front seat at R&R.”
Next up was a panel discussion hosted by Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority president and CEO Rossi Ralenkotter on the topic of aviation trends, travel and security. Joined by Michael Boyd, president of Boyd Group International, Roger Dow, president & CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, and Warren Eales, Port director, Customs and Border Protection, this portion of the program centered on trends in “internationalization” as an opportunity for Las Vegas as a destination, namely travelers from China.
Joe Martin, director of Strategy and Planning for R&R Partners, acknowledged that the time has come to invest in “destination internationalization.” “The LVCVA has done a tremendous job cultivating international demand and growing that segment of the visitation, the idea of creating a more welcoming experience for visitors from all over the globe not only makes sense, it has become imperative. For a destination as world-renowned and as reliant on tourism as Las Vegas, our goal as a community should be to enhance the visitor experience in everything we do.”
Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, warmly introduced Dag Reckhorn from Faraday Future. After the premiere of its concept car at CES and selecting North Las Vegas for a $1 billion plant investment, Future Faraday (FF − as its VP of global manufacturing shared with us) embodied the Future. Forward. theme of today. Additionally, Reckhorn pledged $6 million over six years to local K−12 schools, which roused the audience into a round of energetic applause. Future, indeed!
The final speaker of the morning was MGM Resorts International chairman Jim Murren, who stated that his comments would be a “celebration of Las Vegas.” He mentioned that few cities can host world-class events … at the same time like Las Vegas and challenged all sectors to unite around public education. He appealed to the audience about convention business, as well as the proposed light rail: “We need to provide multiple efficient points of travel.” Murren closed with calling Las Vegas a resilient, giving, sustainable city − the “Entertainment Capitol of the World.”
The Metro Chamber of Commerce gave us a preview into the future of our city, and as we’ve moved from economic recovery to economic development, I can see how we are indeed on a path to Future. Forward. In a city known for hospitality, service and dynamic energy, it is perhaps moving forward that we do best.
It’s that time of the year again – a special time that happens every December … but only in Las Vegas. (I bet you thought I was talking about Christmas!) I DEFINITELY don’t want to diminish the importance or the joy of Christmas, but December is also the time for our annual college football bowl game, the Las Vegas Bowl.
This year will celebrate the 24th year of the game. I worked on the inaugural game as a student assistant in the UNLV Athletic Department. Now, 24 years later, I am still involved as a member of the Las Vegas Bowl Executive Committee and fulfilling the dedicated sponsorship for the LVCVA.
I am not sure people realize how important the game is to Las Vegas, which is why Rossi Ralenkotter, LVCVA president and CEO, and Rob Dondero, R&R Partners executive vice president, chased the game back in 1991. What motivates travel more than loyal college football fans the week before Christmas? Since the inaugural game in 1992 to last year’s game, the Las Vegas Bowl has generated an estimated $252,201,800 of non-gaming economic impact (that is food/lodging/entertainment) to Las Vegas during a time that’s typically a weaker travel period due to the holiday season. The Las Vegas Bowl has claimed seven sellouts in nine years between 2005 and 2013. Also, this will mark the third year in a row that the Las Vegas Bowl will be broadcast on ABC, showcasing Las Vegas to millions of viewers.
Some “Las Vegas Bowl firsts” that I think will be a surprise to most people: In 1995, Toledo and Nevada played in what was the first ever overtime bowl game in the Division 1 FBS level. The Las Vegas Bowl has claim to the FIRST WOMAN to play in an FBS-level game when Katie Hnida of the University of New Mexico entered the game to attempt an extra point. Sadly, it was blocked. In 2013, the game featured three scoring plays of 98 yards or longer and was the first bowl game in history that included a kickoff return to start each half.
And, you might just recognize a few of these names − he’s now known for being in Beast Mode and loving his Skittles, but Seattle Seahawks superstar running back Marshawn Lynch first gained fame in college when he was named MVP of the 2005 Las Vegas Bowl after rushing for three touchdowns and 199 yards for the Cal Bears. He won the Heisman Trophy the year AFTER playing in the 2001 Las Vegas Bowl: Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer led his USC Trojans in the 2001 game against Utah. The world knows him as “Gronk,” but before Rob Gronkowski became a three-time Pro Bowl tight end, the future Super Bowl champion played right here in the Las Vegas Bowl as he helped his Arizona Wildcats earn a win over BYU in the 2008 edition. Before he became a 1,000-yard rusher in the NFL, Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin played right here in the Las Vegas Bowl, piling up 301 all-purpose yards and two scores while helping his Boise State Broncos defeat Arizona State in 2011.
So, while you deck the halls and trim the tree, don’t forget to make the Las Vegas Bowl a part of your December tradition!! This year’s game will be Saturday, Dec. 19, at 12:30 p.m. PT (3:30 p.m. ET) at Sam Boyd Stadium. The 24th Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl will be televised nationally on ABC, featuring BYU against Utah — and with that matchup comes two more Las Vegas Bowl firsts — it marks both the first time “The Holy War” has been contested in the postseason, and the first time the Cougars and Utes have battled on a neutral site.
The Game is not the thing anymore. … It’s the game around the Game that matters. It’s filled with opportunities to engage, hijack and win long before the Game starts.
We all know how brands have been showcasing their Super Bowl commercials in the weeks leading up to the Game. And, of course, there are brands like Newcastle that play around the Game. But this year, more and more brands and others looked for ways outside the official broadcast to play not just with the broadcast itself, but with other brands. What’s next year’s big thing around the Big Game? Start thinking now. It will start sooner than you think.
Newcastle’s Band of Brands
Newcastle couldn’t advertise in the network broadcast of the Super Bowl because Budweiser is the event’s official beer. However, for this latest effort, it used cost as an excuse. So, they, along with Droga5, put together the first crowdfunded Big Game ad.
“Not only did we create the world’s first crowdfunded Big Game ad, but I’m pretty sure we just made the cheapest Big Game ad ever,” Priscilla Flores Dohnert, brand director for Newcastle Brown Ale, said in a statement. “By asking other brands to team up with our brand, we are making a statement that Big Game advertising should be accessible to everyone, whether they can afford it or not.”
R&R’s client, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, was one of those 37 brands. The Las Vegas logo was featured twice in the ad. Las Vegas is another brand not allowed in the broadcast because of the strict gambling rules of the NFL. We considered a ton of ideas to get into the game. Then Band of Brands came along and we were in.
This isn’t the first time we’ve used not being allowed in the Game to our advantage. Years ago, the exclusion got us national news coverage of the ban on Vegas and great play for the brand (because hey, it’s a little hypocritical).
Doritos Gets Hijacked
Newcastle also hacked into Doritos’ ad contest with its own Newcastle-laced version of a Doritos ad entry. Here, Newcastle took advantage of an established Super Bowl brand, Doritos, and used it to their advantage. They weren’t the only ones. There was also an entry that was not as favorable to the corn-chip franchise.
Marshawn turned the Game into his own little brand builder. It’s almost as if he planned it all. … By never talking to the press, he put the talking Marshawn in demand. And the talking Marshawn came out in the week before the Big Game. I personally know that they reached out to many brands in a last-second attempt to make a fast and furious buck off the Marshawn mystique. Because the social channels are being watched as closely as they are putting something together quickly is possible. Skittles, Progressive, and Mortal Combat were three of the brands that answered the Marshawn call to great success.
Totino’s Early Super Bowl
Totino’s tweeted the entire Game a day early. Most of the world thought it was a mistake (until they thought about it). I hate to say it, but Totino’s was ahead of its time on this one. They almost did something that people didn’t get because it was such genius. What better way to stand out during the Big Game than to have all your tweets about the Big Game happen the day before? Big win for Totino’s.
So What’s Next?
More Brands Will Team Up
Band of Brands was just the beginning. Next year, look for more brands to join with other brands to get attention. There are some brands that just go together well, like Doritos and Newcastle. But they aren’t the only ones. And watch out for brands that don’t look like brands but they are. Marshawn was always a brand in waiting. He and some others knew it. Who will next year’s be? I’m kind of surprised that the Chevy Guy didn’t get an ad this year – the nervous everyman would have been a great spokesman for the right Big Game social play.
Someone Will Start Their Super Bowl Program a Year Before the Game
The planning has already started for next year. Brands will be looking to play further and further out. Like Totino’s knows – the Big Game is big enough for brands to start some ripples that will grow to waves as the Game approaches. OK, while I was writing this it already happened. And, of course, it was Newcastle. They are already teasing next year.
You Will Also See More Brands Attacking Other Brands During the Game
This is my favorite from @RealAvocadoFact.
From bidding on search words like Bud did, to using other brand’s platforms, to hacking into other brands’ hacking, brands will look more and more to get any advantage. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there – even for that cute Bud dog.
More Just Plain, Unexpected Weirdness Will Happen from People You Wouldn’t Expect with Lower Budgets
The element of surprise works incredibly well during the Big Game. Look at Loctite. Who would even expect that brand to be in the Game? And no one expected them to be considered a winner in the Game. Next time you’re looking for glue, that surprise should pay off. Even advertisers who wouldn’t be considered big brands can play if they come at it right. Jamie Casino, a lawyer in Georgia, spent $100,000 to do an ad that looks like it belongs in the Big Game. He ran it in one market during Sunday’s broadcast (he ran a similar piece last year). It went viral and now he is not only the talk of Law Game in Georgia – he is a sought-after player in social. Look for more insanity in single markets. Newcastle’s Band of Brands only ran in Palm Springs. If it’s an interesting enough play in a local market, it will get social play nationally.
Expect a Brand to Try and Own the Meme Bowl Next Year
Twitter memes are probably the most fun part of the Game. Check out the Katy Sharks, specifically #LEFTSHARK. Doritos did for commercials what your brand may be able to do with memes. It’s tons of great content and a true winner the entire week after the Game.
More Ads Will Try to Spur Serious Conversation
Because the real game is the social game around the Game, more brands will try and spur conversation using their ads. In the past, it was all about being a great ad that people talked about. Now it will be more about a great ad that starts people talking about something. Just because there were missteps this year with ads that didn’t hit the right tone and weren’t great ads doesn’t mean they didn’t work to some degree in social. And like the guy who owns this joint (Billy Vassiliadis of R&R Partners) says, “If you have a parity brand and you want to reach the millennials, teaming up with a great cause may get them to your website.” Nationwide’s ad stood out and started some talk (just not enough to drown out the dislike of the ad). Nationwide and some others in this year’s Game forgot the biggest rule – if you’re gonna make someone cry – make them CRY HAPPY. Imagine a great ad that spurs a continuing conversation after the Game about a cause close to a brand. Maybe something great could really be accomplished in this wonderful world. That would be an opportunity for a smart, caring brand to show the world what it’s all about.
Bottom Line – It isn’t about buying the spot anymore. It’s about playing the field in the Opportunistic Bowl … and the field is wide.
If you talk to any good creative they will tell you politics and good marketing don’t go together. They will tell you that there are too many formulas for political advertising … and that it is tough to be really creative. I have seen both sides. Some really creative political work; lots of formula work; and some really bad work (especially in the last election). And in my career, I have done all three. In the new movie NO, a desperate situation leads to creative marketing with almost a Pepsi-like political campaign. When Chile is faced with the daunting task of ousting its longtime leader, the powers that be decide they have to take risks. So, they do. And, surprise, it works. By taking risks, I mean treating the candidate or party like an agency would treat an actual brand. It doesn’t happen very often. Political marketing people think they are building a brand but, for the most part, they are just using formulas, like putting him or her with the family, showing them with the right peeps and reacting to what the other candidate or party does. And, of course, counting the lies. That is pretty much a proven route to at least a reasonably close campaign.
Obama did it right in his first election by creating the CHANGE brand. His platform was as intriguing as he was. The second time around, his brand was basically, I AM NOT ROMNEY. Which worked also because he was on the right side and he had very sophisticated polling methods. Sometimes that’s all you need. Well, that and a talking horse. You really can’t go wrong with a wealthy talking horse ad.
So what about when brands pick sides? We just did a piece for our client (the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority) that played off of the NSA controversy. The ad is featured here and did pretty well, garnering more than 10 times its cost in earned media. That is media earned from the publicity – not from paying to have something placed in media. Afterward, I listened to an interview with Stuart Elliott from The New York Times where he intimated that as long as it’s a one-time thing and Las Vegas doesn’t pick sides … it’s cute and fun. I may be putting words in his mouth, but he seemed to be saying that brands like Vegas can have fun with current events but not become an active part in them – at least a brand like Vegas.
At R&R, we pride ourselves on Building and Protecting the brands we work for. And there are no other agencies in the country that have a marketing arm and a political arm that are both successful in what they do to the level we are. But even around here, it’s an interesting argument. Can a brand pick a side on a public issue and ride with it … or is politics too serious and a brand like Vegas too fun? Will some of that serious issue taint the brand or will the issue turn and the brand suffer? Or are big issues just to negative and a brand like Vegas too positive? It usually makes for a really long meeting.
It’s a tough one. The truth of the Vegas brand is Adult Freedom. That is what led to What happens here, stays here® and most of what happens with the brand. That puts Vegas clearly on the side of privacy and all the freedoms that allows. Vegas is a place where you can do and be what you can’t at home – and no one will judge you. Seems pretty clear that Vegas is on the side against the NSA, whether it’s done in a fun way or a more serious way. Of course, the NSA has its own WHHSH aspects. I recently read a piece where a man tries to get a record of the information the NSA has on him through the FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT. The NSA responded by telling him that they can’t send him that information because they can’t reveal that they have it. That would be a risk to national security. Vegas is kind of the same way … if you tell on one person, everyone is in danger.
Comedians don’t stop until it’s not funny anymore. I use The Daily Show and The Colbert Report as a measure of what still has play and what doesn’t. But you could really use any late night talk show. Or you could just do a Google search, watch the chatter on Twitter. There are a million ways to see if something is still a story. Later this month, the head of the NSA is speaking here … so really the story is just building and building. So there is still play in the NSA.
One of the tweets I continue to see on Twitter is “What happens in Vegas, stays in an NSA database.” This is being passed around continually. It might actually be gaining momentum as a tweet meme. And some would argue a tweet like that is dangerous to the LVCVA brand. Whether you like it or not, social media erodes What happens here, stays here. That’s why we came up with the #knowthecode campaign in the first place. With so much being shared online, the whole WHHSH claim seems suspect. Las Vegas has to protect that … R&R has to protect that. But is there a cost to going too far in the real world versus the marketing world? Or is there any difference anymore? Has the social media world brought the two so close together that there are fewer lines between them? And is there a danger of a brand looking like it is taking itself too seriously
This isn’t really new. We have done this sort of thing before. When Biden said something he shouldn’t have, we commented. When Obama said something detrimental about Vegas, we shot back. We defended Prince Harry. But we didn’t go too far. We stayed in the brand’s voice and made it a short blast and not a continued effort. And we aren’t the only people doing it. A lingerie brand played off the NSA thing with a message to Snowden … again, pretty much a one-time shot. And a number of brands are defending the LGBT issues in this country … Oreo has done a fantastic job of this.
And in Brazil, protesters are picking and choosing brands to use against the government by their slogans. “Come to the street,” a Fiat slogan used to celebrate the Confederations Cup soccer championship, and “The Giant woke up,” a slogan for Johnnie Walker in Brazil, have both been seen on signs and on Twitter.
What if we do go too far? I guess there is always the danger of going so far that we are all arrested and put in a very dark cell where no one will ever find us. It would be hard to put the whole city of Vegas in such a cell, but certain R&R folk could disappear and no one would be the wiser. I am always looking over my shoulder. Then there is the danger of Vegas seeming un-American. What is more American than total self-gratification for a weekend? Nothing. I know this from personal experience as an American who does a lot of selfing. And there is the risk of losing U.S. government conventions and meetings that are held here. Nah … politicians enjoy selfing way too much.
I would love your opinion on this. Are brands separate from the issues of the people? Is there a responsibility to become part of the conversation? Is it dangerous for a brand to speak too loudly on an issue even if it fits the truth of that brand? Let me know … I am listening.
This message was brought to you by THE COMMITTEE FOR A FREE LAS VEGAS.
Travel summit notes rise in demand for exotic destinations
Travel agents and tour operators who attended Ensemble Travel Group’s recent Las Vegas conference report that travelers are increasingly being drawn to exotic and off-the-beaten-track destinations. “The hot destinations are Ecuador, the Galapagos, Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam, African safaris. People are going for big-ticket items. It’s like they want to spend money now because they don’t know how things will be later on,” said Judy Ruffini, a regional sales manager at General Tours.
Airlift problems hamper tourism in the Caribbean
Air travel between Caribbean islands usually consists of multileg flights that take several hours. This lack of convenient flight options could be one reason that tourism in the region is not growing as rapidly as hoped, tourism experts say. “Intra-Caribbean tourism is down by 40% in the last five years. Make air travel more accessible — get rid of the visa regulations, make it cheaper — and more people will travel. It changes the equation,” said Richard Doumeng, president of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association.
Luxury travel is leaning toward uniqueness, customization
Luxury travelers are increasingly demanding customized trips heavy in out-of-the-ordinary experiences, experts said during Signature Travel Network’s Sales Meeting and Trade Show in Las Vegas this week. “We have arranged white-linen banquets on the Great Wall and trips down a tributary of the Li River (Guilin) in bamboo rafts. We take clients to studios of major artists and fashion designers. In Beijing, there’s a private $300 million art collection, which people can see, and be taught by the owner how to understand Chinese art,” said Margot Kong, a vice president with Imperial Tours in San Francisco.
Survey: Holiday travel spending will rise 12% this year
An annual survey by Allianz Global Assistance USA indicates that holiday travel spending this year will reach $72.9 billion — up about 12% over 2011. Forty-five percent of respondents said they are “very confident” that they will take a holiday vacation this year, compared with 42% in the previous year.
Business travel could benefit from U.S. “fiscal cliff,” group says
The impending “fiscal cliff” of expiring tax cuts and reduced federal spending could benefit business travel over the long term, the Global Business Travel Association says in a report. “The elimination of tax cuts and reductions in federal spending would lead to reduced deficits and lower interest rates over the long run, resulting in business travel spending and an overall economy that grows more quickly after absorbing the shock of the fiscal cliff,” the GBTA said. However, the U.S. economy stands to lose $20 billion in business-travel spending over nine quarters if the economy goes over the so-called cliff, the group says.
U.S. Travel Association grass-roots program will focus on Congress
The U.S. Travel Association has unveiled plans for a grass-roots initiative that aims to cultivate industry advocates in Congress. “Every congressional district in America can thank travel for jobs and economic activity, so we’ve designed a program to build our bench of champions in Congress, those members who will stand with us and play offense on policies to protect and stimulate increased travel,” said U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow. The Travel Blitz program is set to launch next year.
Norwegian overcomes hurdles to become successful in Hawaii
Norwegian Cruise Line’s 10% price increase on Hawaii cruises next year is a big improvement from several years ago, when the line’s 2,138-passenger Pride of America was struggling.
Virgin Atlantic gains short-haul slots at Heathrow
Virgin Atlantic said it has been offered all of the Heathrow short-haul slots available following International Airline Group’s acquisition of BMI. International Airline Group is the parent of British Airways.
DOT approves Delta’s route to Tokyo from Seattle
The Department of Transportation has approved the request from Delta Air Lines to transfer service from one of its two routes between Detroit and Haneda Airport in Tokyo to Seattle. The switch will “open Haneda access to a new region of the country,” the DOT said.
MGM Resorts International received approval from the Macau government to open its second hotel-casino on the China-controlled group of islands. MGM China Holdings, a joint venture between MGM Resorts and Hong Kong billionaire Pansy Ho, will build a $2.5 billion, 1,600-room hotel-casino on Macau’s Cotai Strip. Plans call for 2,500 slot machines and 500 gaming tables.
Honolulu Airport was expected to launch the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program this week. Not all airlines participate in the program, and passengers must be eligible to go through an initial screening in order to participate.
Orlando, Fla., hotel activity in September was lower than a year ago
The hotel market in Orlando, Fla., declined in September, as 55.2% of rooms were filled compared with 56.2% the previous year, according to Smith Travel Research. The average daily rate decreased 1.4%, to $80.35, as children went back to school and fewer large-scale events took place.
US Airways Group reports record Q3 profit
US Airways Group posted a record third-quarter net profit of $245 million, up from $76 million a year earlier. Excluding special items totaling $192 million, the result was the second-best third quarter in the company’s history.
Delta posts $1B third-quarter profit
Delta Air Lines reported a third-quarter net profit of just more than $1 billion, aided by $279 million in one-time items. The result compared to a $549 million profit a year earlier.
Southwest will take over AirTran flights in 4 cities next year
Southwest Airlines has announced that starting in April, AirTran service at airports in Flint, Mich.; Portland, Maine; Rochester, N.Y.; and Charlotte, N.C. will be converted into flights under the Southwest brand. Southwest also unveiled new services that will launch also in April, including daily service between Boston and Kansas City, Mo., and between Houston and Pittsburgh.
Spirit: We don’t want you to pay our $100 carry-on fee
Delta eyes New York market with added routes, landing spots
Delta Air Lines has added more than 100 daily flights at La Guardia Airport in New York, a move that it hopes will increase market share in the region. The airline this year acquired landing spots from US Airways. “We’re trying to win New York. That’s really what this expansion is about,” said Gail Grimmett, a Delta executive.
Delta will cut number of nonstop flights to Europe
Delta Air Lines plans expansion of flights from Seattle to Asia
Delta Air Lines is looking to capitalize on its partnership with Alaska Airlines to add flights from Seattle. The plan includes expanded service to Asian destinations such as Shanghai, China, and proposed service to Tokyo-Haneda, Japan.
Las Vegas hotels are making even more of an effort to go green as tourists are in the market for sustainable hotels. MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment and Las Vegas Sands have incorporated sustainable practices into their business models. MGM’s CenterCity project, for example, earned six U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certifications. Hotels in the city have embraced composting, rootop gardens, recycling and water-saving measures.
Cruise sellers expect improved business in Q4, 2013
Many travel agents reported weak business in the cruise segment during the third quarter, brought about by competitive pricing and slow bookings. However, agents’ optimism is high for the year’s remaining quarter, with prices expected to regain strength going into 2013. “There’s pent-up demand, an end in sight to the presidential election, and bookings are pretty attractive,” said Carolyn Spencer Brown of Cruise Critic.