Tag Archives: shakila ahmed

“You should be more adventurous, you coward!” says hotel chain promoting adventure holidays

A nation of scaredy-cats: Two-thirds of Britons think they are adventurous, but just 29% have tried adrenaline sports (with Londoners and the North East the bravest)

Two-thirds of Britons believe they are adventurous,but actually we are a nation of scaredy-cats, according to new research.

While 64 per cent of adults believe they are daring and fearless, just 29 per cent of us have actually been brave enough to try extreme sports like abseiling, rock climbing and bungee jumping.

And our bravery depends on where we live, with Londoners and those from the North East and West Midlands named as the most adventurous in the country.

Source: Daily Mail, 4th June 2014

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The most interesting thing about this particular PR-derived article is that the same story appeared almost a fortnight earlier in the Mirror, with a notably higher degree of transparency:

Two thirds of British adults think they’re adventurous, but we’re a nation of scaredy cats

Nearly two thirds (64%) of British adults perceive themselves to be a fearless adventurous type of person.

However, a new study by Travelodge has revealed we’re actually a nation of scaredy cats, as only 29% of Britons has actually had the courage to take on an adventurous activity.

In response to this misconception and to celebrate it’s new ‘Get Up & Go’ campaign, Travelodge has commissioned the UK’s first series of interactive 3D adventure postcards.

Source: Mirror, 23rd May 2014

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As the Mirror makes abundantly clear three times in the first four paragraphs, this story is nothing more than an overt piece of promotion for a hotel chain, and their new campaign to encourage people to take holidays around the UK, and do adventurous things.

Particularly interesting in the Mirror’s surprisingly-transparent coverage is the open tagging of Travelodge at the foot of the article:

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Which then leads the reader into a filter of all recent Mirror stories taken directly from Travelodge press releases:

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It’s hard to know what to make of this from the Mirror – are they at the vanguard of a new push for transparency in journalism? Or is this the accidental side-effect of an over-eager web index? Either way, it makes my job a hell of a lot easier, and for that I thank them.

“Children need a good night’s sleep, or they’ll be a nightmare!” says hotel chain

“Children need a good night’s sleep, or they’ll be a nightmare!” says hotel chain

It’s nice of the Mirror to highlight what parents should avoid exposing their children to if they’re to secure that all-important good night’s sleep – but which company paid a PR agency to come up with this ‘research’?

Shakila Ahmed, spokeswoman for Travelodge who carried out the survey, said: “It’s quite frightening so many children across the country are experiencing regular nightmares.

“It seems the issue stems from children not having a fixed bedtime routine.

“Strict bedtime rules need to be adopted and children need to be taught the importance of attaining a good quality night’s sleep in regards to their well-being.”

Travelodge, the hotel chain, want you and your children to have a good night’s sleep. They may also have a view on where you can go to get that sleep.

“Sleeping in the same bed as someone can be exhausting!” says hotel firm

What’s keeping you awake at night? If you’re anything like me, the answer is stories like those that have been appearing in the Daily Mail and Daily Express of late:

Bickering at bedtime costs us 10 nights of peaceful sleep a year

BICKERING couples lose up to 90 minutes a week of what could have been peaceful sleep time by arguing between the sheets.

Night-time rows flare up around three times a week and over a year could add up to as much as 10 lost eight-hour nights of rest.

Fidgeting, snoring and, ahem, passing wind are just three of the irritations guaranteed to get tempers frayed under the covers according to research by Travelodge. 

Source: Daily Express, 27 February 2013

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Couples lose 90 minutes of sleep a week bickering in bed about snoring, fidgeting and passing wind 

Fidgeting, snoring, passing wind and hogging the duvet – the list of things that couples argue about in bed is endless.

More than a quarter of British couples spend so much time bickering between the sheets that they are losing an average of 90 minutes sleep each week, new research suggests.

The problem is so big that the sleep loss builds up to three full days of missed sleep during a year.

Source: Daily Mail, 27 February 2013

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If that weren’t enough, on top of the article in the Express by Nathan Rao (which I imagine he contributed barely a word to), the paper then went on to double-down, with a follow-up article, cementing the research in the pantheon of PR piffle:

Bedtime battles

A new survey says that many bedrooms are a war zone. So what’s stopping you from having a good night’s sleep?

Bedrooms, we are told by the experts, should be reserved for two things: sleep and having sex. They warn us that the television or laptop can destroy the bedroom’s feng shui, that it should be a place free of distractions, that what couples should aim for is a comfortable love zone where they spend quality time with each other and promote intimacy. 

This is all well and good but let’s get back to the real world. According to research by Travelodge, it emerges that the bedroom is pretty much a war zone such are the night-time rows caused by bedtime behaviour. Whether it’s down to hogging the duvet, watching scary movies or insisting on sharing the mattress space with the family pet, couples lose up to 90 minutes’ sleep a week by bickering about each other’s antisocial habits in the sack. Over a year that’s at least a week’s worth of good kip gone missing. 

Source: Daily Express, 4 March 2013

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By now, dear readers, I can safely assume you’re savvy enough of the Bad PR world to spot the none-too-subtle commissioner of this particular piece of research – hotel group Travelodge.

In fact, locating their press release on their website and then feeding it into Churnalism.com, we discover that Nathan Rao of the Express and Emma Innes of the Daily Mail contributed less than half of the copy to their respective stories, taking the rest directly from Travelodge’s own copy.

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What motive have Travelodge for outlining the battles of bedtime, and the difficulty people have in sharing a bed? While none of the three news articles explain the motivation behind the story, it’s unequivocal in the original press release:

Shakila Ahmed, Travelodge spokeswoman said: “Our research has highlighted that bedtime bickering amongst couples is a growing concern across the UK. In some areas such as Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool couples are losing a week’s worth of sleep a year which is not good news. Therefore in response to this growing issue, we have created a new luxurious bespoke bed which addresses the number one reason for bed bickering which is fidgeting between the sheets.

“The Travelodge Dreamer which is deemed the Rolls Royce of beds boasts a 925 pocket sprung mattress. Each individual spring is designed to follow the natural contour of an individual’s body in order to provide the correct amount of support and comfort. For a couple, this ensures that each individual is much less affected by the movement of their partner, resulting in a good quality night’s sleep. 

“Also to ensure there is a balanced temperature between the sheets, we have introduced a bounce back 10.5 tog duvet which offers the ideal snuggling cover up whilst sleeping.” 

So, ‘sleeping with someone is tricky unless you have the correct bed’, says hotel firm advertising the range of beds they have available. PR this blatant never fails to amuse me, especially the ease with which it passes into the national press. How do the journalists not see straight through it? Perhaps Nathan Rao and Emma Innes are both in need of a good night’s kip…

“People leave things in hotels!” says hotel chain

What’s the weirdest thing to have been left in a hotel room? According to the Independent and the Daily Mail, the answer might be weirder than you imagine:

A python, a winning EuroMillions lottery ticket, Harry Potter’s wand and breast implants: just some of the bizarre items left in UK hotel rooms last year

A python, a winning EuroMillions lottery ticket, Harry Potter’s wand, breast implants, a bucket of live crabs and a diamond-encrusted iPhone have topped a list of the most bizarre items people have left behind in hotel rooms.

Budget hotel chain Travelodge has named some of the items relegated to their lost and found offices across the country last year.

Source: The Independent, 2 January 2013

Breast implants, a bucket of live crabs and a £10,000 Tiffany engagement ring… some of the bizarre items left behind in hotel rooms
– 20,000 books left at Travelodge hotels – a third were Fifty Shades of Grey
– Also forgotten were £50,000 Rolex and an 8ft pop-up spray tanning booth
– 76,500 forgotten cuddly bears reunited with their owners by hotel staff
– 200 Queen Elizabeth masks were found at a Travelodge hotel in Windsor
– Also left behind were pet python called Monty and a pantomime horse

It’s an impressive list of items – an original Harry Potter wand, breast implants, a bucket of live crabs, a pet python, a £10,000 Tiffany engagement ring and a set of four Power Rangers costumes.

And all of them were left behind in Travelodge hotels last year, along with a winning EuroMillions ticket, a £50,000 Rolex watch, an 8ft pop-up spray tanning booth – and even a pantomime horse.

There are no prizes for being able to spot that this story is, in fact, a press release from the prolific PR department of Travelodge – the eye-catchingly varied nature of the items left behind proving perfect tabloid fodder. 

“Staying with the family at Christmas is REALLY stressful, right?!” says hotel chain

The primary purpose of any press release – particularly a commercial press release – is to gain media coverage for the client; to get the client’s name as far as possible into the public sphere in a way that does not appear to be an advert.

Often there are secondary purposes – perhaps to publicise a new product range, or to inform the public of a new breakthrough in technology, or even as cynically as to plant a subtle hint that the public has a problem which they were previously unaware of, but which the client in question is the solution to.

Running up to Christmas, the hotel chain Travelodge took both of these purposes very seriously indeed, seeding a string of articles into the press to promote the notion that spending Christmas in the bosom of our family is a stressful and friction-filled affair, liable to result in all manner of arguments and issues.

We’ve been told that families argue, on average, as early as 10:13am on Christmas Morning, and that of all the guests expected over Christmas time, it’s the mother-in-law we dread seeing the most.

Pouring fuel on those fires even further, we’ve the following two articles, both in (at least) the Daily Mail:

Half of men think women exaggerate stress of Christmas while a third think they could do a better job

Four in ten women would not trust their partners to carry out essential tasks

A massive 85 per cent also say men don’t understand the effort required for a perfect Christmas

42 per cent of women find hosting Christmas Day their most stressful job of the year

Source: Daily Mail, 16 December 2012

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Nightmares about giant turkeys, too many presents to wrap and parties to attend… STRESSMAS has arrived as today marks Britain’s worst week for sleep deprivation

45% of Britons will lose 21 hours of sleep this week in the run up to Christmas Day

Almost half will survive on a mere five hours of sleep a night in order to cram in last minute tasks and preparations as well as festive celebrations

Source: Daily Mail, 17 December 2012

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These latter two stories, interestingly enough, deriving from the same Travelodge press release:

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Travelodge, then, are so successful at getting their coverage into the press that the Daily Mail will take a single press release of theirs and cut it into two – which, from the newspaper’s perspective, is an effective use of resources at a busy time of the year. And, of course, the client is delighted that they get double the coverage for their business. So who loses out here? As ever, it is the reader.

Throughout all of the Christmas press releases by Travelodge, the angle has always been the same – spending time with your family can be hell, so why not book into a hotel instead?

That Travelodge think it’s acceptable to advertise their rooms by perpetuating all manner of negative stereotypes and pseudo-gender wars is, quite frankly, a huge shame, and a disappointment. That the newspapers uncritically publish this non-research as if it were genuine news, is just as bad.

“Being around the mother-in-law at Christmas is a pain!” says hotel firm

It’s a tradition almost as old as Christmas itself: the stereotypical unbearable mother-in-law. Take the Daily Express, a little before Christmas:

MOTHER-IN-LAW BOTTOM OF CHRISTMAS GUEST LIST

IT’S official – the mother-in-law is the most dreaded dinner guest at Christmas, according to a new poll.

She pipped mother as the least welcome face at the festive get-together, followed by father-in-law, father and ex-partner.

At the other end of the popularity scale, TV presenter and comic actor Stephen Fry was named the dream Christmas dinner guest.

Source: Daily Express, 21 December 2012

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So, it seems that every Northern working men’s comic from the 1970s was right, and it really is the mother-in-law who haunts the existence of adults around the country. Or, perhaps, this is a piece of PR promoting an agenda…

Fry beat Take Me Out host Paddy McGuinness and comedians Miranda Hart, Paul O’Grady and Russell Brand in the survey of 2,000 people by hotel chain Travelodge.

In fact, it’s a press release put out by Travelodge, which itself focuses on the comic angle, rattling off newspaper-friendly celebrity names at a rate of knots, with the aim of naming someone plausible who’s face the newspapers would like to put on their pages:

TURKEY WITH A DASH OF LAUGHTER PLEASE

Britons are craving laughter at the Christmas dinner table as comedians top the list of ‘ideal’ Christmas lunch guests

We are a nation in need of desperate laughter as Britain’s top comedians including Stephen Fry, Paddy McGuiness, Miranda Heart, Paul O Grady and Alan Carr dominate this year’s Travelodge ideal Christmas lunch guest poll.

For the first time ever royalty, celebrity chefs and musicians have been snubbed in favour of our most loved comedians. In a quest for more laughter this year’s poll leads with Stephen Fry, renowned for entertaining his five million Twitter followers with his intellectual wit and humorous tales. The comedian, also known as one half of the duo ‘Fry & Laurie’, moved up from last year’s number two spot to this year’s number one position.

In second place the nation opted to keep their light-on for ‘Take Me Out’ host Paddy McGuinness as their ideal Christmas dinner guest. Famous for his ‘Paddy-isms’ on his dating show, the Bolton born comic beat his sidekick, Peter Kay, who debuted much further up the list at number seven this year.

In third place Britons chose the self acclaimed ‘giant’ of comedy and award winning comedienne Miranda Hart, star of BBC Two’s Sitcom ‘Miranda’ to join them for the most important meal of the year.

Source: Travelodge.co.uk, 20 December 2012

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Given the celebrity angle leading the press release, where did the mother-in-law research come from? Further down the piece it appears:

The research also revealed the Mother-In-Law is still the most dreaded Christmas guest, followed by Mum as both women know best and will interfere with the day’s planned proceedings. Sixty eight per cent of women said it really annoys them when their Mother-In-Law or Mother tires (sic) to take over on Christmas Day. Thirty one per cent of respondents said it makes them feel inadequate and not a good host. A fifth of women said if it gets too much on Christmas day they will use the excuse of having a migraine so that they can have a sneaky catnap.

Given that the research was actually an online poll, complete with the inherent flawed methodology of paying people an incredibly small amount to complete a survey, inadvertently incentivising respondents to focus more on response time than accuracy, it’s entirely plausible that what Travelodge really picked up on was their respondents familiarity with a well-worn and clichéd stereotype, rather than their actual experience and feelings. A stereotype which then becomes the lead in the reportage of their findings, reinforcing the stereotype so that the next time a poll asks about mother-in-laws, we can confirm it all over again. In this way, the cycle feeds itself, with the newspapers and the PR companies harvesting the self-perpetuating loop to feed their own interests.

And, in case it wasn’t clear, what is Travelodge’s particular interest in stressing the unbearable nature of the nation’s mother-in-laws?

Shakila Ahmed, Travelodge spokeswoman, said: “However, savvy Britons are forgoing imposing on their families and avoiding the dodgy sofa and bed by booking themselves into a nearby hotel. This actually gives both parties free time to enjoy the holiday season and make the most of their time together, rather than getting under each other’s feet.”

“Staying with the family for Christmas causes arguments!” says hotel chain

With the festive season throwing together families across the country, what better way to spread Christmas cheer than to remind people how stressful it can be to be around your loved ones. Take this from the Telegraph, complete with the inevitable henpecked husband photo:

First argument on Christmas Day? 10.13am

The average British family will have at least five arguments on Christmas Day – with the first row taking place at 10.13am, a new survey shows.

The research surveyed 2,000 British households to see how Christmas Day will be celebrated.

And after the early confrontation, the next family row will take place at 12.42pm when 38 per cent of children will moan about receiving the wrong presents.

Source: Telegraph, 23rd December 2012

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Also getting into the festive spirit was the Daily Express:

YOUR FIRST CHRISTMAS DAY ROW WILL BE AT 10.13AM

Couples have their first row at 10.13am on Christmas Day/posed by models

SEASON of goodwill? Perhaps not. The average British family will have at least five arguments on Christmas Day.

Researchers can even say when the first of tomorrow’s rows will take place – at 10.13am, as preparations get under way.

The early confrontation will be followed by the next family tiff just over two hours later at 12.42pm – when 38 per cent of children will moan about receiving the wrong presents.

Source: Daily Express, 24th December 2012

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Who can we thank for this slice of Seasonal sunshine?

The study by hotel chain Travelodge surveyed 2,000 British households to see how Christmas Day will be celebrated – or not.

We can be certain that the press release came from Travelodge, as they publish the whole thing in the Press Office of their website:

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It might seem odd that a hotel firm might want to publicise the idea that Christmases around our family are hard to bear and cause a huge amount of friction – what would they have to gain from promoting this view (besides getting the name into the national press, which is a goal in itself)?

Shakila Ahmed, Travelodge spokeswoman said: “Christmas Day entails lots of excitement, tension and high expectations. Therefore family flare-ups are bound to happen, especially as lots of people are staying together under one roof.

“To ease tensions this year we have noticed that more Britons are booking their Christmas guests into a nearby Travelodge to help reduce the additional family stress factor. By stopping over at a nearby hotel, all parties get the space that they need and when united on the day they can truly enjoy their family time together.”

So the angle becomes clear: stay with your families at Christmas and you’ll have a miserable time, but book into a nearby hotel and you’ll be able to approach your family with love and harmony. Merry Christmas one and all, from the Travelodge PR team!