Halloween falls in a difficult holiday period, just at the end of ‘shoulder season’ (September to October) and right at the beginning of the dreaded off-season (November to March).
So it seems the end of October must be a write-off for travel company marketers. Or so you would think…
However, Booking.com is taking advantage of a holiday season yet to be exploited by other travel companies, Halloween, and is managing to build a comprehensive marketing campaign around it.
We’ve already looked at the eight brands making the most of Halloween in 2013, but right at the top of the pile is this campaign from Booking.com.
Welcome to America’s Most Haunted Hotels...
Booking.com's special haunted homepage takes you to a beautifully rendered HTML5 experience, which encourages you to scroll up a hauntingly lit staircase and visit the seven highlighted hotels, with a little blurb for each revealing how these locations came to be so ‘haunted’.
At the Queen Anne Hotel you can expect to be tucked in 'very firmly' by a ghostly headmistress. At The Stanley Hotel you can experience the inspiration behind The Shining.
Or at the really quite frightening looking Historic National Hotel, the spirit of a deceased bride-to-be will help you unpack your suitcase by tossing your clothes around the room.
Each hotel has a direct link to its booking page and also social buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.
There’s also a separate landing page where you can explore haunted locations all over the world.
So you can go and get thoroughy haunted whether you’re in the USA, the UK or Singapore.
There’s a good chance that Yvette Fielding or Derek Acorah won’t be anywhere near Singapore, so that seems the safest bet.
When you hover over the Queen Anne Hotel in San Francisco, the box lifts up and reveals the message 'stay if you dare' in all-caps blood red letters. This is great, until you click on the link and you’re taken to this page…
It’s a shame the Halloween take-over couldn’t continue through to the booking page proper. Looks nice though.
Booking.com has also created this unnerving little video for its campaign…
This was apparently filmed in room 410, the most haunted room of the Queen Anne Hotel, and will be shown in US cinemas.
Perhaps Booking.com’s greatest masterstroke is the use of bespoke posters, created by artist Akiko Stehrenberger, used to advertise each hotel, each looking like an original seventies horror film poster.
This style of art print is normally reserved for independent cinemas doing limited runs of horror movies, so Booking.com is tapping into the right demographic here.
Tryng to persuade my fiancee to go here for our honeymoon is going to be tough...
As this is a brand new campaign which has only been running for a few days, it’s difficult to say how successful this campaign will be. How many people want to be 'scared to death' on what is supposed to be a holiday?
How many people actually believe these hotels are genuinely haunted? Are these the macabre individuals who will book a night, or in fact stay well away, hiding behind a crucifix and some holy water?
Or is it all just a brilliant bit of fun, and an interesting way to drive sales in a typically quiet period? I would say it's certainly the latter.
Perhaps flash holiday sale sites like Secret Escapes and Voyage Prive as previously discussed in this article could stand a little gruesome make-over during October too.