When I started working with Cal – even before we began dating – he would invite me to brainstorm with him whenever he got a new Internet marketing copywriting gig. After six years, this brainstorming has become a habit whenever either of us gets a writing gig. In fact, it’s become such a habit, we tend to “market out” almost anything: We’ve come up with marketing plans for everything from Lindsay Lohan’s career to the restaurant that’s just opened up down the road (which, for the record, is a gay karaoke creperie).
So as we watched the events unfold surrounding the Eyjafjallajokull volcano ashpocalypse, we were amazed at the utter lack of marketing savvy from the overwhelming majority of the travel industry.
Most of the stories coming out of the travel chaos amounted to First World Problems – “I took my 10-year-old to Barcelona to watch a football match, and now we’re stuck!” “I hope we can find things to do in London while we wait!” “We’ve decided to stay in Osaka for another week.” But as the days have worn on, frustration has grown and the stories have changed in tone. Now there is talk of medications running low, hotels profiting from those under house arrest for visa problems, and desperate travelers who have run out of money and are begging for couch space.
The first jaw-dropping example of marketing malfeasance I saw was not from the travel industry, but from a man in Nairobi who wrote into the BBC News website: “My business of supplying fresh produce to the retailers in the UK and continental Europe is virtually at a halt. No flights northbound and I can’t send cargo out, so everything is going into the bin.”
What? Why? Because Kenyans have all the food they need?
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