Booking.com invites Americans to experience foreign cultures in their backyards

While international travel is out, the travel booking site invites U.S. consumers to experience the vibrant cultures right in their backyards.

Booking.com wants Americans to rediscover their sense of wonder by experiencing travel—in their own backyards.

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted everyone’s lives and dramatically altered industries, perhaps the travel industry above all. With international travel largely impossible for Americans right now, how can the travel industry survive, while recognizing and relating to the needs of its consumers?

Booking hopes to remind Americans that even if they can’t go abroad, the world can come to them through all of the rich cultures within the country’s own borders. The brand’s “America is for everyone” campaign aims to “celebrate all of the international cultures that are a part of America and that America has been built through,” says Arjun Dijk, Booking’s CMO.

As a country of immigrants, the U.S. represents countless countries and cultures beyond Little Italys and Chinatowns. Booking wants to help Americans discover cultural enclaves from countries like Vietnam, Denmark, or Germany right here in the U.S., whether that’s through a Vietnamese farmers market in New Orleans or a Danish bakery and a visit to the Hans Christian Andersen Museum in California’s wine country. 

Ultimately, the message is that “there’s more that unites us than divides us, especially in this challenging year that all of us agree hasn’t been the easiest,” Dijk said. 

To help Americans experience these cultures in their own backyards, Booking has chosen ten places across the country that highlight a range of cultures on display in the U.S., and is offering two-night stays for $50 total — a wink to the 50 states. Each location will be decorated to reflect the local culture, and Booking will provide a list of activities nearby that help travelers experience that culture.  

“The whole idea is that those locations are already really in the spirit of that culture, but we’re offering amenities in terms of food and local experiences [too],” says Dijk. “The main purpose of this campaign is to inspire people to say traveling is fun, if you can travel domestically and if it’s safe, here are some fun ideas of international cultures you might not know of.”

But Booking, of course, recognizes the circumstances Americans are in due to the pandemic. As such, the brand is offering free cancellations, flexible spending and emphasizing cleanliness standards at all of its locations. The hope is that combining the practical with the whimsical will keep Booking top of mind when people choose to travel again.

But the overall brand positioning as a destination that makes travel easier is not just a one-off, says Dijk. 

“This is a multi-year strategy to really connect with the American consumer. No matter where you are from or what your budget is, you can use our platform. Our overall brand positioning hasn’t changed, but the benefits we’re offering, we will communicate differently.”

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