- Hotels.com launched a campaign that plays off the envy many people experience even as they "like" the travel pictures their friends post on social media. "Hotels.com is giving this ubiquitous but unspoken behavior a name and calling it what it is — the 'hate-like,'" the travel-booking company said in an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
- The brand's "Be there. Do that. Get Rewarded" effort includes TV spots featuring recurring character Captain Obvious, who points out the reasons why people "hate-like" their friends' vacation posts. The campaign highlights Hotels.com's rewards program that lets customers collect points to redeem for free nights and discounts on lodging.
- Rapper Lil Jon also appears in some of the ad spots, including one where he explains how Hotels.com customers can "make it rain 'hate-likes.'" The brand's marketing campaign will bring the "hate-like" idea to Comedy Central and "Real Housewives" on Bravo, social media content and additional brand experiences, per the announcement.
The Hotels.com "hate-like" campaign, which arrives as people begin booking their summer travel plans, is a humorous take on the "fear of missing out" sentiment that pervades social media as people post pictures of their getaways. Social media have a significant effect on travel planning as consumers, especially millennials, seek exotic experiences that feel more authentic and make good fodder for sharing with friends, family and followers. Hotels.com in December 2017 said that "travel bragging" is common among young adults who would rather share a selfie than a family picture while vacationing.
Travel envy has even inspired a startup, Fake A Vacation, to charge as little as $20 to superimpose people's pictures on backdrops of Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and Hawaii, among other destinations. Fake vacation photos are present on social media, with 14% of American saying they've lied about their vacations and 10% saying they've posted fake pictures to bolster the ruse, according to a survey this month by flight-comparison site JetCost.
Hotel chains, faced with competition from home-sharing site Airbnb, are using marketing campaigns to emphasize the Instagram-worthy experiences they can provide to travelers. Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants this year started expanding its interactive Room 301 experience based on a pilot program that included a hotel room transformed into an "Instagrammable space." Its Kimpton Stay Human Project consists of guest rooms in 20 cities designed around the idea of "staying human," with local themes and activities.
Separately, Meliá Hotels International ran a campaign to collect user-generated images of its properties and include them in the brand's email marketing and digital advertising. The chain's efforts boosted its social media following by 15% to more than 6.7 million people last year, pointing to how humorous messaging by hotels and travel companies can resonate with social media-savvy consumers.