Vienna’s New Ad Campaign Uses Negative Travel Reviews To Lure Tourists

By Kelsey Marie


Much like anything else in life, you have to experience things on your own to form a solid opinion. For example, you can read online reviews of everyone raving about a new restaurant but when you get there, you don’t get the hype. The city of Vienna, Austria knows this and was inspired by online travel reviews in their newest ad campaign.

The Vienna Tourist Board has rolled out the “Unrating Vienna” campaign to highlight bad yet funny reviews in hopes of convincing people to see Vienna for themselves before forming an opinion.

“Unrating Vienna” uses real reviews written by tourists in an effort to show that some peoples’ comments can be quite absurd — like the one-star review of the Leopold Art Museum where a tourist says “paintings are disgusting”.

Mind you, the Leopold Art Museum houses works by revered Austrian artists like Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt.

Norbert Kettner, the Vienna Tourist Board’s managing director tells Lonely Planet, “we take a humorous look at the notion that online ratings are not always the right path to take when it comes to looking for relaxation and moments of enjoyment. The campaign is intended to make people sit up and think and trigger broader public discussion.”

Courtesy of Vienna Tourist Board
Courtesy of Vienna Tourist Board
Courtesy of Vienna Tourist Board

Kettner agrees that online reviews are helpful and can assist with planning a destination vacation but the new campaign is intended to bring awareness to the fact that actually visiting a place is the only way you’ll truly know.

Throughout the years, the use of online travel reviews has become a major part of tourism — however, they have caused some controversy.

A zen monk in an ancient Buddhist temple in Japan made news last year when his harsh responses to tourist reviews on Booking.com went viral.

This happened after tourists wrote about plain food and not-so-great hosting at the Sekishoin Shukubo guesthouse.

The American-born monk, Daniel Kimura took offense and responded to their reviews saying: “if you are that interested in a monk’s life then you should shave your head and be one”.

He also said, “yeah, it’s Japanese monastic cuisine you uneducated f*ck” in response to the tourists comment about being served plain food.

Kimura eventually apologized for his responses and they were removed from the site.

When his comments went viral, he told the Guardian, “even a monk gets tired.”

Vienna’s Tourist Board were also tired of online reviews persuading tourists whether or not they should visit a destination. They hope this counterintuitive campaign will intrigue new tourists to visit Vienna.

Travel Noire

Kelsey Marie

Kelsey-Marie is an NYC girl who currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @kelseydashmarie

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