You may have seen this latest marketing gambit by the city of Ithaca, N.Y. and their travel and tourism website. It involves and unlikely message for most travel marketers: “Don’t come here, go to Florida, instead.”
As someone who spent four cold years just 30 minutes north of Ithaca in Syracuse, let me tell you. They are right. February are dark days for central New Yorkers. It’s been at least a month since they’ve seen more than a day above freezing. They’re digging out from yet another snow storm that would grind any other area of the country to a full, week-long halt. And the sun, when it makes a rare appearance, seems to only make things colder (All former or current CNY residents know that clouds are actually positive because they trap what little heat the area has).
And so, the Visit Ithaca site decided to have a sense of humor about all of this and gently suggest that maybe this isn’t the best time of year to visit. Maybe you might want to consider a warmer climate for your February travels. Oh, and, by the way, it’s a great place to visit in Spring, Summer, and especially early fall, when the gorges that the area is famous for (Ithaca is Gorges t-shirt, anyone?) are lit up with fall colors.
Most tourism bureaus would shy away from this, seeing it as a risky move. But honesty and integrity go a long way, and so has this campaign. It’s now trending in some areas on social media, and people who never even knew where Ithaca was are visiting the site and poking around. Next time your agency suggests something a little out of your comfort zone, don’t be so quick to say no. You might just have the next viral campaign on your hands, or at the very least, you might have the ability to convey that you have a sense of humor about yourself and your destination/brand.
And no one will hate you for that.