Tag Archives: travel reviews

some people need to be snowglobed, bro

It’s rare that I don’t accept everything that Seth Godin posts as marketing gospel. But the more I think about it, the more I believe that his recent post about a TSA snowglobe sign is a bit off-the-mark.

I don’t know which airport he took the picture of the sign, but I think in certain high tourist density airports (MCO, LAS, JFK, LGA, IAD, DCA, etc) in the main tourist season, it makes perfect sense.

I’ve always found that signs (even the stupid ones) are put up after too many people (even the stupid ones) make the same mistake. The TSA probably has a snow globe problem with tourists (who for the most part are infrequent travelers).

I would venture while thinking about avoiding carry-on liquids, the snow globe souvenir doesn’t cross many minds as the hotel room is frantically being packed. The angry blog post in an alternate reality might read:

This week, I visited {Tourist Attraction} with my family. Coming home, we had packed my daughter’s snow globe souvenir in my carry-on so it wouldn’t get broken by the baggage handlers. Imagine my surprise after we check our luggage, the TSA employee said we couldn’t take it through in our carry-on. I guess I know it does, but who thinks about the liquid inside snow globes? We had to trash it right there at the checkpoint so we could catch our plane. She was heartbroken. How much effort would it take for a simple sign to alert people?

I’ve never experienced heartbreak at security after having to throw away my princess snow globe. But I bet it happens. (I did almost lose a pocketknife once, even though I knew the rules.)

Just because you’re not in the bulls eye target for the message — doesn’t mean the message is not needed.

The Hotel Restaurant

As I travel around the country speaking at conferences and meetings that take place in various nameless hotel/conference centers, one thing is always the same. It’s the hotel restaurant.

I’m sure you’ve eaten at this one restaurant that’s scattered around the country. Sure, it has different names…depending where you are….
In Denver, it’s called “Rocky Mountain Grille”.
In Chicago, it’s named “Windy City Grille”.
In Boston, it’s the “Patriot Grille”

The idea is the same in each spot. The chain hotel’s corporate “gourmet chef” has developed a menu that sounds fancy and high-priced. The entire experience and pricing is built around the idea of the corporate expense account. The trouble is that it’s iceberg lettuce…not mixed greens. The waitstaff’s last job where they learned the meaning of “service” was a fast-food place…not a white-linen steakhouse. Most of the food came off the same food service truck that just visited the local schools and prison.

And yet people flock to it.

I currently sit writing this in the lobby of one of those Holiday-Marriott-Sheraton conference hotels (at least they’ve figured out the need for wi-fi). People are scurrying into the hotel restaurant. You can see on their faces that they think they’re going to a fine restaurant and will truly get a great experience of the local taste.

I dare say there’s better BBQ in Memphis than at the “Blues Grille”.
There’s better crabs in Baltimore that at the “Chesapeake Grill”
I bet the key lime pie is better at Kermit’s than at “Hemingway’s Grille”

So what’s the attraction? Simple. It’s the marketing. Marketing to a captive audience that’s too busy, too ignorant, or may be too scared to get out and walk 2 blocks to get the real thing. After a 9-4 day of conferencing and continuously seeing the menu in the elevator and seeing the menu laying on your pillow, you convince yourself that the Chicken ala St. Louie is the best thing next to the Arch.

The next time you think that marketing isn’t worth it, then remember this. If someone can convince intelligent world-traveled businesspeople that the “Golden Gate Grille” is the best option in one of the world’s best food cities, you can market ANYTHING.