Celebrity culture may be having a negative impact on places featured, says Gordon McCreadie, sales and marketing director of If Only
It’s 12 weeks since I’ve been back in the saddle at a luxury operator and, as in any new job, it throws up oddities or opportunities that make you think.
Dealing with high-end enquiries has opened my eyes to the growing market for discreet celebrity packages, not to mention the requirements of Premier League footballers when they visit the world’s top hotels.
These kinds of requests have got my cogs turning about another aspect of modern culture and tourism: reality TV.
Now, I’m not opposed to watching some cringeworthy TV from time to time – and viewing Scotland in various sporting events over the years certainly lends me some experience on the topic.
But watching the likes of Geordie Shore in Australia, Made in Chelsea: Ibiza and Love Island makes me wonder: is celebrity culture and the behaviour that makes us talk over our morning coffee having a negative impact on some of the hotels and destinations being made famous to a new generation?
We’ve seen examples of hotels benefiting from exposure through reality shows. A prime example is the Palazzo Versace on Australia’s Gold Coast. It’s a haven for respite and a just reward for those brave (or stupid) enough to scoff kangaroo testicles or clip scorpions to their armpits in I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!
But have all venues fared so well? With the seemingly endless appetite for famous faces and new celebrities, are we associating the lewder and darker side of TV’s worst behaviour with some of our best-known holiday spots?
It’s all very well making captivating television, but what about the returning customer who has visited the same five‑star resort year after year? I can’t imagine they would be thrilled to see Love Island’s ‘Muggy Megan’ from the ‘Do Bits Society’ gyrating in the hot tub of their favourite overwater bungalow; or having Geordie Shore’s Holly getting ‘mortal’ in the hotel restaurant where they enjoyed an unforgettable swordfish steak and rioja blanco in 2009.
It may be a masterstroke of marketing by some resorts to influence a new generation of visitor, but is it a sustainable practice and is it alienating an established client base?
On the other hand, it could be argued that some of these destinations have historically been elitist or maintained a reputation of unattainability. With the millennial generation accessing so much of their information from social media and elsewhere online, shows that create exposure could be a good thing for agents and the industry as a whole.
Now that Instagram is king and Snapchat gives us an intimate window into the lives of the famous, places we’ve never seen and experiences we can only dream of, does today’s travel agent have to be more innovative to beat the competition and make these dream locations on TV a reality for those who adore watching them?
One thing is for sure, though. With the ever-increasing link between reality TV and bucket-list destinations, I’ve got a legitimate excuse if I get caught watching Ex on the Beach.
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