This week’s newsletter takes a look at the philosophy behind “branded destinations.” Savvy consumer brands like Coca-Cola, Heineken, and Guinness are increasingly launching real-life tourist attractions to help tell their brand story and create new revenue streams.

It’s not just the board members that find these concepts attractive – many such venues also earn top marks from travelers on review sites like TripAdvisor. Will the practice spread next to tourism brands? Read below for more analysis.

Marketers Experiment with Branded Destination Concepts

The concept of ‘experiential marketing‘ may be on the lips of plenty of travel executives these days, but understanding the real world application of the discipline is another matter. One real-life example of how the concept is gaining favor with marketers is through the idea of an “experiential brand home,” a physical destination where the brand can tell its story to visitors. Examples of these destinations include The Heineken Experience in Amsterdam and World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta. Read more

Four Seasons Appeals to Common Sense, Offers Free Wi-Fi to Guests

It’s always surprising to hear in 2015 there are hotel properties that don’t offer paying guests free, unlimited wireless Internet. Yet as an announcement from luxury hotel chain Four Seasons revealed this week, there’s still some pockets of industry resistance to the practice. As the upscale chain probably realized, denying customers free Internet can backfire not only in bad public relations, but also in lost organic marketing opportunities as guests are unable to share their experiences to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Read more

Choice Hotels Shares Unexpected Millennial Travel Habits

It seems not a week goes by without another study being released on the habits of the much-watched, much-debated “millennial” generation. This week’s study is from Choice Hotels, which uncovered a series of “unexpected” findings that highlight the generation’s bipolar tendencies. Take, for example, the fact that 27% of millennials surveyed had stayed in a hotel in order to impress someone, and that more than 60% of the generation carried hand sanitizer while traveling, higher than any other age group studied. Read more

Kayak Digital Campaign Appeals to Growing “Travel Hack” Behavior

The once fringe practice of travel hacking, a system by which savvy online travel shoppers cobble together frequent flier miles, credit card awards and unpublished fares to earn cheap or free travel, is increasingly a mainstream practice for some travel consumers. Metasearch player Kayak appears to be appealing to this growing audience of travel hackers, releasing a series of videos highlighting power-user tools like the Explore and Price Forecast features. While no mainstream travel brand has gone so far as describe how to game the system, the marketing strategy for Kayak’s campaign is a sign of just how much the booking landscape has changed. Read more

Royal Caribbean Promises Cruises Don’t Suck in New Ad Campaign

In an interesting counter-intuitive move, Royal Caribbean this week unveiled a new media campaign with the tagline “This is Not the Caribbean.” The new campaign, designed with cruise-averse millennials in mind, plays up the company’s exotic port-of-call excursions while de-emphasizing the ships themselves. Given the litany of food poisoning and cruise mishaps plaguing the industry over the past few years, the new approach may prove to be wise move. Read more

Study Reviews Most Influential Sources for Travel App Downloads

Knowing how and why a mobile user downloaded your app can be a frustrating question to answer for many travel marketers. However, a new study by AppsFlyer sheds some light on what paid and organic sources appear to be driving the most downloads. The study, which reviewed 450 million installs between May and July 2015 found Twitter was the top number one driver of installations with high retention rate (meaning the user didn’t quickly delete the app). Read more

Photo Credit: The Heineken Experience, a branded destination in Amsterdam, gets top reviews from tourists and marketers alike. Andrew Bowden / Flickr