14 October 2020
This month, US-based travel booking site Hotels.com began offering the chance to literally ‘hide under a rock’ as the 2020 presidential election approaches. Travelers can book a stay in an unspecified, underground location in New Mexico. The accommodations include zero access to wi-fi, the news or television to prevent visitors from obsessively ‘doomwatching’ or ‘doomscrolling’ through content about the election . The property is available for USD 5 per night from November 2-7.
Whatever your political leaning, this election feels like a can’t-look-away scenario. As stressful and unpleasant as it is to take in the updates, the stakes are so high that it’s hard to avoid poring over them. Even if you’re not from the US, just witnessing the intense polarization – or observing polarization in your own country – can be enough to induce a panic attack. By bringing our collective urge to hide under a rock to life, Hotels.com is sending the message that going too far beyond ‘staying informed’ doesn’t necessarily help society, and especially not you. There’s an opportunity here to help consumers unplug and ensure they’re being mindful of their mental health during this challenging time.
So, help people get a little under-the-rock time when they need it...but we urge you to also help them crawl out when they NEED to. Because when too many people cut themselves off from larger conversations, the consequences can be dire for democracy. Case in point: 40% of eligible US voters didn’t vote in the 2016 election; we don’t need to tell you what may have happened if they did.
It additionally results in consumers avoiding diverse viewpoints, or truly trying to understand those who differ from them. A recent study from the Brookings Institute found that US students aren’t engaging in political discussions as much as they should, as politics are often considered taboo, and teachers aren’t encouraging them to do so – which will only widen, not bridge, the gaps polarization has placed between us. Could you foster productive conversations among consumers? We know, opening up a thorny dialogue might feel risky for your brand, but brands are four times more likely to gain consumers’ trust (rather than lose it) by taking action on key issues.
Can you help preserve consumers’ wellbeing and shelter them from the harsh political climate? At other moments, can your brand be a part of a larger solution and do what it can to combat polarization? The two opportunities here are yours for the taking.
The TrendWatching content team