HomeAway puts faith in objectivity with Gran Tourismo project

grantourismoHoliday rental giant HomeAway has quadrupled its PR budget in the UK for 2010 to help engineer an initiative to send two bloggers around the world for the rest of 2010.

The company has hired well known travel writer Lara Dunston and partner/photographer Terence Carter to spend their time staying in rented villas in 24 locations around the world, in return for blogging about their experiences.

HomeAway Holiday Rentals, the UK division of the global HomeAway brand, has paid for the couple’s travel and accommodation for the duration of the project (“plus a fee”) and given them free reign to write whatever they like about the properties the duo stay in.

The project, known as Gran Tourismo, follows similar efforts – see Best Job campaign – to spread a brand’s message and products in off-kilter ways into corners of the web already teaming with travel content.

HomeAway admits the project could be a tricky one to manage if Dunston and Carter decide a particular property doesn’t come up to scratch, especially as owners are paying to feature on its listings pages.

An official says:

“If Lara and Terence are pointing out things that are a problem [for a property] then in some ways it is down to the owner to improve it.”

HomeAway insists the pair have complete editorial freedom during the trip – something it says is risky but is outweighed by its desire to push for honesty rather than “advertorial fluff”.

Gran Tourismo is a major step for a company such as HomeAway – until now it has put almost all its online marketing and PR efforts into keyword buying and SEO.

The huge increase in PR spend in order to run the project signifies a wider move by travel firms to utilise social media and well known figures on the travel blogging circuit to help with a wider branding strategy.

Dunston and Carter, HomeAway says, have agreed to a minimum level of content on the Gran Tourismo sites during their jaunt around the world, including “keeping up interaction” on social networks.

The pair are also free to continue taking commissions from other travel publications, officials say.

The fail-safe for all parties: there is a get-out clause after one month if things do not work out.

NB: Good interview with Carter here.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.

 

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  1. Holiday Rental Homes

    This is an interesting PR exercise. I heard about this, but its the first time I have ready anything about it.

    Will have to check the blogs out.

     
  2. HomeAway quadruples PR budget in UK | Vacation Rental Industry News

    […] Tnooz: HomeAway puts faith in objectivity with Gran Tourismo project […]

     
  3. Caitlin @ Roaming Tales

    Thanks so much for the link. I’m excited by the project. With all the bad news about newspapers and magazines closing and journalist lay-offs, it’s nice to hear about new models springing up to keep content creators in the black.

     
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    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by TravelNotebook: RT @kevinlukemay: HomeAway puts faith in objectivity with Gran Tourismo project http://ow.ly/1nZpi5 [Tnooz] @gran_tourismo…

     
 
 

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