Creativity abounds during a pandemic
There may be nothing like a worldwide pandemic to heighten travel industry creativity. Different aspects of the industry are coming up with ingenious promotions during coronavirus that are certain to brighten people's days. Here are some of the intriguing developments:
The Inn at Little Washington
Virginia’s The Inn at Little Washington has living and non-living proof that you can safely fill a restaurant during these days of social distancing.
The 23-room property — located in a town called Washington — decided to place mannequins in its dining room, enabling it to fill the eatery during dining hours with both living guests and those who appear to be living from a distance.
The unusual move enables clients to have their meals in a safe, theatrical and entertaining manner.
“I’ve always had a thing for mannequins — they never complain about anything and you can have lots of fun dressing them up,” says Patrick O’Connell, chef/proprietor at the inn. “When we needed to solve the problem of social distancing and reducing our restaurant’s occupancy by half, the solution seemed obvious — fill it with interestingly dressed dummies. This would allow plenty of space between real guests and elicit a few smiles and provide some fun photo ops. The Inn at Little Washington has always celebrated the ‘living theatre’ of a restaurant and this project gives us an opportunity to work with Design Foundry and Signature Theatre in D.C., who we’ve collaborated with in the past. They will be providing the costumes and makeup for our mannequins.”
“When The Inn at Little Washington reached out with the idea to costume mannequins, we thought it was a fun and creative way for them to conform to social distancing guidelines,” says Signature Theatre’s managing director Maggie Boland. “We jumped at the chance to collaborate with another of Virginia’s great cultural destinations in support of their reopening. Signature’s costume shop manager, Frederick Deeben, went to work pulling costumes and accessories to outfit the mannequins – dining couples – in 1940s-style dress. We can’t wait to see the dining room all decked out for a post-war party!”
The Inn at Little Washington is known for being “reverently irreverent,” for instance having a cheese specialist who has a “mooing cow cart speaking exclusively in puns” and a dining room dress code that forbids “wet bikinis.”
O’Connell’s restaurant has attracted attention before, with the inn owner having won a James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award and U.S. National Humanities Medal.
He’s confident his latest move is an uplifting one during these often dreary days of self-isolation.
“We’re all craving to gather and see other people right now,” he says. “They all don’t necessarily need to be real people.”
Hotel Association of Greater Montreal
Those yearning for a hotel ambiance during these days of non-travel can get a few pointers from some of those who know hotels inside out.
The Hotel Association of Greater Montréal’s Project Pineapple features a series of videos in which workers at some of Montreal’s leading hotels demonstrate the likes of folding a sheet alone, setting a banquet table and creating a pineapple desert.
Pineapples have been a symbol of luxury for centuries, with Christopher Columbus bringing them back to Europe from the Americas. Europeans quickly associated the fruit with wealth.
“In creating this campaign, the idea was to engage in a dialogue with Quebecers and at the same time help them get through this period of confinement. It’s an opportunity to let them know that hoteliers are eager to welcome them back to their establishments when the situation will permit. In the meantime, our industry will continue to maintain a presence,” said Eve Paré, president and CEO of the association.
Jean-Sébastien Labelle, of W Montreal, one of the “experts” featured in the clips, didn’t hesitate to take part in the project: “I wanted to stay engaged and share my skills with Quebecers. It was the perfect opportunity for me to express my passion both for my profession and for the hotel industry. Comfort is essential during this crucial confinement period, and people are looking for ideas on how to achieve it. That’s why my colleagues and I wanted to share our knowledge and contribute to the well-being of households. This series of short videos is designed to inject a dose of pleasure into people’ daily lives. Every little gesture aimed at doing something nice for oneself or for the people we live with is so important right now.”
Stone House Urban Winery
We’ve all heard the term that dog is man’s best friend and one canine in particular may be an oenophile’s best friend as well.
Lori Yata of the Stone House Urban Winery in Hagerstown, Maryland, is using her 11-year-old boxer Soda Pup to carry wine from her establishment to customers in waiting curbside vehicles, enabling Yata and her clients to maintain social distancing.
The 75-pound Soda Pup can carry two bottles of wine in saddlebags, along with the treats Yata provides.
Customers prepay for their wine and are told it will arrive by canine express.
Central Counties Tourism
Ontario’s Central Counties Tourism is thrilled to reach out to thrill-seekers who are homebound because of coronavirus.
The tourism body promotes an area that includes the Canada’s Wonderland amusement park — which offers some wild roller-coasters for daredevils — in its boundaries and is inviting people to hit the road from the comfort of their own homes with the launch of the York Durham Headwaters (YDH) Virtual Road Trip website. “Filled with interactive experiences, engaging stories and activities, the website features experiences that people enjoy from home now, and then take part in first hand once travel restrictions are lifted and tourism businesses begin to fully reopen,” Ontario’s Central Counties Tourism says.
In addition to providing a means for people to keep exploring while at home, the YDH Virtual Road Trip is intended to help keep the region top-of-mind with future visitors, as well as provide marketing support for the businesses that make up the area’s tourism community.
The website includes content submitted by local tourism-related businesses, along with “YDH Official” videos made in collaboration with the organization’s stakeholders. Content on the site ranges from interactive farms tours, and first-person views from Canada’s top thrill rides to bike-trick and cycling tutorials, and cooking videos. There are also online wine-tasting experiences that allow viewers to purchase a featured wine selection and download tasting cards before they settle in for a guided tasting by one of the region’s award-winning wine makers.