How to sell Antarctica [Travel]

At first glance this is not a bad ad. The ad sells the concept of the trip quite well – it sounds like an adventure – so what’s the problem?

Concept vs Reality

For most people, a trip to Antarctica is something completely unfamiliar. We love the idea of it, but it’s so detached from real life that it remains a concept (rather than an actual opportunity to consider). For example:

  • We can’t picture the destination clearly
  • There are no landmarks to call to mind
  • We can’t visualise the spot on a map
  • We can’t visualise the route
  • We’re not sure how we’ll get to Buenos Aires
  • And when is it?

The customer has no way of putting themselves in the scene, the way they could with a trip to Hawaii or Paris where you have a pretty good idea of how the trip will unfold.

If they can’t see it, they can’t buy it

Put simply, people want to see what they’re buying.

So for any product a customer can’t see (like this trip), they have to be able to see it in their mind before they even consider it.

If we can attach this trip to the real world, we can help them to “see” what they’re buying (and turn this trip into a real option for them).

  • When is it? The big news in this ad isn’t that trips to Antarctica exist, it’s that there’s a specific upcoming opportunity. Naming the specific dates allows the customer to see them in their calendar, and see the trip fitting into their life.
  • Departure point. I know Brisbane Airport and this image allows me to imagine leaving on holiday.
  • Which day will we set foot on the mythical continent? It’s such a landmark event and needs to be spoken about with the correct amount of reverence. “At approx. 2:30pm on April 18 you will set foot…”
  • How will I get to the airport?

You see how we’re building a picture in the mind of the reader? Not an abstract idea of penguins and orca, but a real life sequence of events places, times, people, and events. Only now can a person get attached to the idea. It will be happening at a specific time and place nearby and they have the choice to be there or not.

I’ve sketched an ad below that uses some of these principles. Remember the big news is that you have this specific trip leaving soon, so dates and places are important…

Go Further

We can’t include everything in the ad, but extending this idea we can include a lot more detail in a followup brochure/info pack to allow the customer to truly see every element of the trip in their mind.

  • Who’s picking me up? Who’s the captain of the ship? If this was a voyage to the moon, the names of the captain and crew would be pertinent information. If you’re selling a high-cost voyage to the last wild continent, it should be spoken about with the same reverence.
  • Are there any special guests on board? Particular experts or anyone semi-famous?
  • Inclusions? Warm clothes? Make sure they know you’ve thought of everything.
  • What’s in the room on arrival?
  • On the first night we will…
  • Route.
  • Education – Antarctic history/health/ecosystem/research. Most of their experience will happen in the mind (“wow we’re at this mythical place at the end of the earth”), so the passengers must be given context on where they sit relative to historical events, the Antarctic circle, and their own frontiers (how far south, how cold, new animal sightings), constantly. This should be done on board as well as in the brochure.
  • “Left Foot or Right Foot? Which one will you use to step onto Antarctica on April 18?”

Help them to imagine being there…



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