What Chris Hadfield can Teach us about Out of This World Marketing

Chris_HadfieldThere’s a lot of famous Canadians and we’re proud of most of them.  James Naismith was the Canadian sports coach who introduced the world to basketball in 1891;  Scott Abott and Chris Haney  invented the game of Trivial Pursuit ( there’s a board in each of my cottages);  James Bombardier is responsible for the snowmobile, and our list of entertainers is long – think Michael Buble, Celine Dion and Justin Bieber ( I did say we are proud of most of them)…..and then there’s Chris Hadfield.

Chris arrived home from space this week after a six month tour of duty, first as a crew member and for the past three months, as the Commander of the International Space Station. In that short time, he’s delivered a constant stream of education, entertainment and snippets of information about life on the space station; has kept us captivated with amazing photography of world landmarks from an out-of-this-world perspective, and delighted children with short video about simple topics such as how he sleeps and eats in zero gravity.

Prior to Chris heading off to space, we probably didn’t give much thought to what went on up there  but the buzz he is creating on social media has made him a household name. Described by Forbes magazine as “perhaps the most social media savvy astronaut ever to leave Earth” Hadfield can teach us a lot about how to use these sharing platforms to reach the widest audience.

Of course, we can’t lay claim to pictures from space of an erupting volcano or the shrinking nature of the polar ice caps, but we can learn a lot about using the social media platforms available to all of us to promote our own piece of paradise.

Sharing the mundane

Chris has created a lot of interest in the ordinary and relatively mundane things we do, such as eating, sleeping and crying with the twist of doing them in space.  We need to think about how we can portray similar day-to-ay activities in our locations.  These could be short videos on things like:

  • Making a margarita
  • Roasting marshmallows over a campfire
  • Throwing a stick for a dog on a beach
  • Barbecuing a steak
  • Having a glass of wine on a dock
  • Kids doing a jigsaw

Educating the audience

Hadfield’s videos are often educational, brief and attached to Tweets – they show it’s not necessary to do lengthy productions as long as they capture interest. He’s not a polished presenter but he gets his message across with humour and friendliness.


Think about what you could share to excite interest or educate potential guests on aspects of your vacation rental. Here’s some ideas for a  2 minute how-to video:

  • How to stand up on a stand up paddleboard – if you have one of these, it’s great to offer pointers on how to use it
  • How to get the best out of your Disney vacation – just three or four points that could net your guests a better experience.
  • How to get out of a kayak – now this is what I need since it’s usually an ungainly process when I do it.  I would love to see a little video on how to get out of a kayak with some grace and dignity.
  • How to catch your first fish – aim this one at children and if possible, get a kid to do the demonstration.  This does work best if it’s easy to catch a sunfish or two without waiting for hours!
  • How to build a campfire – This might seem simple to you but you may have guests who have never done this before.  A brief Scouts-style demo would could educate your audience and save you issues from out-of-control campfires.

Using stunning images

earth_from_spaceThe photos from space are remarkable – they offer an entirely different perspective on our planet and there are lots of them.  Chris linked many of his tweets to photographs as well as video and it should lead us to some creativity on how we can do the same.  Go beyond the images you use for your listing and find some great photos from around your locale to post on Pinterest or link them to your tweets.

  • Great wildlife shots – I snapped one of a moose on an early morning drive recently that I thought was pretty cool
  • Super sunsets – especially if they are taken off your deck or dock
  • Close-ups of birds and butterflies – hummingbirds, blue heron and waterbirds are a great choice
  • Signs advertising local attractions – this will boost guest excitement.

Post them on twitter with a short tweet to describe the image


Getting the message out with a little bit of help

teenager_on_computerFrom the day Hadfield launched into space, he’s been tweeting numerous times a day, updating regularly to Facebook and posting videos to Youtube. We wondered how he managed all this along with the tasks of being commander.  In fact the job of keeping all the social media channels up-to-date has fallen to his son Evan who has done a masterful job of maintaining the schedule, ensuring questions have been answered and comments and retweets acknowledged.

If you have kids and want to get your social networking off and running, why not get them involved.  Tell them you want your vacation home to be as famous as the International Space Station and give them a project to manage your social media strategy.

Now Chris is home, it will be interesting to see how he will keep up the high profile he’s created.  Whatever he does, he’ll be remembered as the Canadian astronaut who brought space back onto the radar of a worldwide audience.  For us, we should thank him for showing us that it just takes some ingenuity, consistency and charisma to make an impact.