The pivot from entertainment to inspiration

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Laura Hutfless
Laura Hutfless

Our company occupies a special niche in branding by creating marketing campaigns that connect brands to consumers via the power of entertainment, which often includes matching brands, including travel brands, to entertainers. We have, for instance, assisted in connecting Kelly Clarkson with Norwegian Cruise Line when she performed and christened the Encore in Miami in November and created sensitive "give-back" moments on her popular morning show. Additionally, we've worked with Enterprise Rent-a-Car by creating a platform to put concert tickets in the hands of fans with the help of Zac Brown, One Republic and other performers.

With concerts as well as travel on pause, we've been thinking not only about how entertainment has changed during the Covid crisis but how these changes have contributed to a universal sense of trauma that so many people are going through. Companies are downsizing, parents are working as teachers in addition to their full-time jobs, there's constant concern over one's own health and safety. Those still employed fear that job loss may be imminent. Add in cultural unrest and division, political fear tactics and living in isolation, and it's clear that consumers need tools to offload pain and stress. The world is undergoing collective strain, and if we don't have the means to help our bodies and brains recharge and relax, we can't create, produce or be inspired.

This has created a societal shift, edging from the need for entertainment toward creating a safe space for inspiration.

And it has significant implications for the travel industry. We know travel companies have frequently incorporated aspects of entertainment into their offerings; the challenge is how to further integrate expressions of inspiration. From our perspective, we see unique opportunities for travel brands to create narratives that can help ensure that they stay integrated into the pop culture conversation with today's influencers as well as engaged and relevant with the segment of the population that, even before our current crisis, searched for ways to disconnect from everyday stress, focus on mental health and make time and space to flex creative muscles.

Studies, including a recent one by psychologists from the University of Kansas, looked at the impact of nature on creativity and found that spending quality time immersed in nature helps overcome creative blocks and problem solving. This desire has been reflected this summer in, for instance, the uptick in RV rentals and road trips. These connect to both the need to socially distance and to reduce stress by spending time in the great outdoors.

We've explored the linkage among relaxation, inspiration and creativity and also how entertainers and other influencers could find inspiration in combination with travel products and nature.

We believe there's an opportunity for brands to leverage lifestyle experts to design new inspiring spaces in, for instance, Airstream trailers, RVs, airplanes, hotel rooms, campsites or large spaces within destinations.

Alternately or additionally, brands can invite consumers into the process. By asking customers for their input, relevancy and connections deepen. It's a great way to maintain excitement and emotional connections until travel resumes in full force.

Providing space for creative people can also pay dividends for brands. For example, we created a narrative with Norwegian Cruise Line that connected entertainers and natural inspiration within a program called "Free the Beat." It provided an opportunity for songwriters and producers to be exposed to the scenery, wildlife and beautiful landscapes on Alaska and Bahamas cruises to create beats, lyrics and music that were utilized in Norwegian's marketing efforts, including one song featured in a Super Bowl campaign.

In our present circumstances, we believe that travel products have new, interesting and affordable ways to integrate inspiration into products. Many of today's top music artists and content creators are among those whose careers have been put on hold and are actively looking for creative ways to engage with brands. Brands who invite them to engage in a nature-focused offering and give them the time and space to create will help to forge a strong bond with consumers.

The desire to travel still exists, and the need for inspiration is far greater than ever before. Brands need to ensure that service offerings and marketing messages acknowledge the collective need to stop, step away and be inspired.  

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Laura Hutfless is co-founder of FlyteVu

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