sex on the beach

S*x sells – X marks the (G) Spot in travel marketing on the web

Here’s a quickie: Eat24, a US-based food delivery service, stretched its budget and extended its reach by advertising on a few pornography websites – with great satisfaction all around.

The fine details, graphic descriptions and very humorous innuendo can be safely read at work from their blog.

As a player in the travel industry, why should you care? Among many answers, one is because this counter intuitive, disruptive, and effective approach illuminates a way to think about how to stand out in the crowd.

Anyone in travel marketing knows you just don’t associate your mainstream brand with pornography, or so the conventional wisdom goes. This belief stems from the concept of association, where for example a professional athlete shares their winning aura, and a super model casts their beauty onto your brand.

But in this age of social media, how do you get your arms around your customers touting your brand? Eat24 claims to deliver food to, and has been recognized by, some rather well known adult actors and actresses via Twitter.

I suspect these same stars take airplanes and rent cars, stay in hotels, and have even booked tours and excursions. While all sex is not pornography, the integral role sex has in the travel industry is the stuff of legend.

It’s not like the “Mile High Club” has membership rolls, or that hotel housekeeping keeps records, but we know what people like to do behind closed doors, especially while on the road, at conferences, or on vacation.

But other than a few “honeymoon suites” or heart-shaped, satin sheet bedroom promotions, no one acknowledges that X marks the spot.

No need to keep tongue in cheek, but consider the ancillary revenue potential for an airline, especially long haul routes using the upper deck of a 747, or any partitioned full flat bed suite, rented by the minute or hour.

And not to be left out, car rental companies can provide maps to the best location to watch “submarine races” or upsell minivans with flexible seating.

hotel, sex, romance, room

But we digress, so let’s go back to advertising, making the creative pitch and buying media for your brand of travel services.

Following the Eat24 example using porn media sites, you can easily segment the marketplace by age, gender and other factors including location.

This segmentation permits you to make specialized and tailored offers, for direct booking only, with higher margins as a function of certain customizations; for example add-on basket of lotions and toys with the Champagne & Chocolates Do-Not-Disturb package.

As explained in the blog posting, buying this media is safe and effective just like any online advertising, but is dramatically cheaper so you can buy more of it and increase your ROI.

What’s more, the very popular tactic of “re-targeting” keeps your brand safe as you deliver a message to the same person across your proprietary or purchased sites.

Finally, there are several interesting semantic search tricks to link these concepts to particular product and people pages that would be largely invisible from traditional search words and booking paths.

While you may read this and smile, maybe even “wish we could do such a thing” –but-no-way, you should take a minute to consider how this might apply to your business.

Take a new look at who your customers are, how do they use your product services, and whether you segment and reach them in alternative and affordable ways.

Using alternative media and SEO tactics how can you transform your message to make a provocative appeal and enhance a related core benefit?

Travel, much like sex, is among the most beautiful, desirable, and frequent things that people seek and share. Maybe it’s time to tell it and sell it that way. Or at least smile when you share the story with management to see if you can get a rise out of them.

NB: This is a viewpoint by Larry Smith, a partner at US-based Thematix.

NB2: Sandy feet and romantic hotel room images via Shutterstock.

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About the Writer :: Viewpoints

A founding principle of tnooz was a diversity of viewpoints from across the spectrum. Viewpoints are articles by guest contributors from around the travel and hospitality industries. The views expressed are those of the author. and do not necessarily reflect those of the author's employer, or tnooz and its partners.



  1. Kevin May

    Kevin May

    @dan – it does when you don’t want the headline to trigger spam alerts in subscriber’s inboxes when we put it on our newsletter 😉

  2. Dan Greaves

    Does “sex” need an asterisk these days?


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