Published in conjunction with our sister business Country Holiday Lets
Recent TV ads in the UK to stimulate demand for the holiday let market are as welcome as they are badly timed and long overdue. For the first time in many years, advertising for holiday cottages on UK TV was absent in the normal peak period for taking bookings from late December to late February.
A cunning plan that went wrong?
Perhaps, the majors such as Wyndham Worldwide felt that the internet was the way and decided to divert sales and marketing money into the modern new way. Perhaps, the majors were getting fed up with the way they were, in effect, subsidizing and helping small operators who cannot afford, in a million years, to advertise on TV. How so?
When a big company chucks buckets of cash at TV advertising, it stimulates demand as much as informs existing cottage goers to use their service. In the old days, people would go to the telephone, ring them up, and ask for a brochure; it made sense. Today, aside from what is sometimes called ‘the brochure market’, most people go straight to Google and see a huge array of competitive choice. They are, perhaps, more likely to book with the TV advertiser, but there’s no doubt a large proportion will book through agencies or direct with owners who could not afford to be on TV.
This aspect of the internet forces large operators to advertise, in effect, on behalf of their competitors. They are desperately trying to find a way to get out of this commercial vice. I can hear the little businesses laugh as I type. By ‘little’ I mean, even, the likes of Sykes Cottages and other quite substantial operations. They simply wait with their ads on Google for all that nice stimulated demand, thanks to the likes of Wyndham Worldwide and other helpful TV advertisers. But, of course, this did not happen in 2016/7 over Christmas and the New Year. Meanwhile, their internet advertising and other efforts did not work. People with Wyndham Worldwide have suffered an equally bad May and June from, what appears to be, a direct result of failing to stimulate demand.
Grotesquely incompetent TV advertising
Back to the recent ads.
Although very welcome, they are staggeringly incompetent in-house efforts. If an agency is involved, they need whipping. AirBnB screened a series of TV ads over several weeks in April and May featuring a happy family wrecking a kitchen doing home cooking. It could only have been created by a bunch of men… I am a bloke but even I can see the message this was giving to owners and guests. For owners, the message was: ‘if you join AirBnB, your place will be trashed’. For Guests, the message to Mum was: ‘don’t dream you will have a restful holiday. It will be chaos as usual, plus a bit more and, guess who will be working overtime to clear up the mess? Some holiday.’
The HomeAway ad, which has run for several weeks, is close to an obscenity. ‘Book the whole house’ is the theme and you will not even have to share it with a smelly owner who can’t be bothered to dress properly and, most likely, frightens the children. Where are these people coming from? In the UK market, the idea of renting a holiday cottage to share it with an owner is off the wall. If it does happen, I have never come across it and I can be sure that such an arrangement would be a commercial disaster. It is an ugly, inappropriate, incompetent ad, again, it seems created by an in-house team perhaps aimed at the US market? I suspect, just like Euro Ads, the voices have been changed to UK accents but the ad, itself, is generic US.
Both ads display an incompetent amateurism as staggering as it is self-defeating. They are so bad that, although they may stimulate some demand to march off to Google, they could actually be doing the opposite and damaging the holiday cottage market. Two huge brands have successfully smeared themselves. What are they playing at?
Brands in cyberspace
Brands do not work the same in cyberspace and are radically more vulnerable if they get things wrong. The relationship between legacy media advertising and world wide web advertising is complex. The two are, for some products and services, organically linked. If you abandon one you could pay dearly. I suppose, the good news is that far from being a wannabe monopolists dream, the internet does, in some cases, force big business to help small operators whether they like it or not. In this case, at least two of the big companies have spectacularly failed in 2017 on two counts: the timing of their advertising and shockingly incompetent advertisements themselves.
Corporations sometimes lose touch with common sense and think they know it all. Times have changed, legacy methods of brand maintenance and development no longer apply. AirBnB and HomeAway have shot themselves in the foot.
Note. A bit of good news: we have seen a definite improvement in the value of bookings taken over the first week of July. With any luck, the dip in May and June is coming to an end.