Royal Caribbean Push Offers Boatload of Pleas to Vacation


Labor Day may have come and gone, but for those of you who have yet to take a vacation, Royal Caribbean is making its pitch with a series of online videos, dubbed “Vacation Daze,” that prompt Americans to wonder why they work so hard—and don’t reap the benefits of it. The videos, from JWT, New York, offer a number of reasons why vacationing can be good for you, and how the global cruise company, more than any other, “understands just how precious those days off are,” said marketing svp Betsy O’Rourke. The marketing executive, who hails from the hotels business, said she’s seeing cruise demand pick up in these recessionary times. She told Brandweek about the thinking behind the videos, how social media made one of its ship captains a star and how initiatives like these will hopefully have Americans vacationing again. Below are some excerpts.

Brandweek: You’ve  recently kicked off a viral video effort,“Vacation Daze.” Tell us about it.
Betsy O’Rourke:
It’s really three different parts. It’s two different videos. One takes more of an educational point of view to just inform people about how [not taking vacation] has become an epidemic, and people are giving up vacation days. They’re hard-earned days. We earn less than [workers in] any other [part of] the free world, yet we give up more percentage-wise. Why is that? We also created a game where you can capture vacation days and let go of work, and that is accompanied by a sweepstakes called “Cruise Them or Lose Them.” The third part is yet another video that takes on the same topic, from a different angle: Vacation You versus Work You. [One is represented by a file cabinet, the other by a suitcase.] It tries to get into [consumers’] heads about why we don’t take these vacation days and what is it about us that makes us work so hard and not take the precious time off that we’ve earned.

BW: Where are they running? Are they going to be accompanied with a larger ad campaign?
We’ve posted them on [social media channels like] Facebook and YouTube, as well as on our Web site. We’re hoping they’ll go viral and that consumers will send them to folks who are guilty of not taking their vacation days.

BW: Vacationing—now? So many Americans are unemployed. How is that a timely concept?
If you think about it, because of [the events] that have taken place, those of us fortunate enough to still have great jobs are filling in for those colleagues who are no longer with us. We are working harder, we’re putting in longer hours, and—this is a big generalization—but across the board, there are fewer people, but the same amount of work is still there. The scope of work hasn’t changed. The number of people available to do it has. [And so] we believe there is pent-up demand for vacation.

BW: Has anyone else in this industry tried this approach before?
We think it’s breakthrough. The one company that raised this issue before—and it did so in the form of a survey—was Expedia. They asked people about their attitudes toward vacation, and one of the questions in that survey was, “How many days do you take, versus how many do you give up?” They were the first ones to raise the idea, but they didn’t ever launch a campaign around it.

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