Vienna Is Using Terrible Online Reviews to Promote Tourism

Jul 2, 2019

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Strange and utterly weird tourism campaigns (and online trolls, for that matter) aren’t news to us here. So our interest was piqued when we came across Vienna’s new ad effort, which hopes to lure prospective visitors with terrible reviews.

Confused? So were we.

According to Quartz, the city’s tourism board is highlighting some of the worst reviews they’ve received as part of their “Unrating Vienna” campaign. The ads plastered all over Austria’s capital city feature legitimate reviews from tourists who were, well, not too pleased with their experience. One of them describes Schönbrunn Palace’s lawn as “a mess,” and another called the view over Prater Park “rubbish.” Yikes.

Counterintuitive, yes, but also kind of brilliant. It seems a bit like a challenge — I mean, do you really believe that the Leopold Art Museum houses “disgusting” paintings by world-renowned artists, including Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt? Yeah, they don’t think so either.

Photo courtesy Vienna Tourism Board.
Photo courtesy Vienna Tourism Board.

Norbert Kettner, the tourism board’s managing director, told 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.”

Vienna is hardly the first destination to take an unconventional approach to attracting tourists. Last fall, the state of Nebraska launched the most self-deprecating campaign ever, assuring prospective visitors that the Cornhusker State “honestly [is not] for everyone.”

And then there was the time that Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, declared itself “the G-spot of Europe.”

Moral of the story here: Read those surly reviews of Vienna with a grain of salt — or the whole shaker — and go out and see the world with your own eyes. Want to make sure your trip to Vienna is anything but lackluster? Consider visiting during the holidays, when the Christmas markets fill the city squares with plenty of festive cheer, and bed down in luxury at the Park Hyatt Vienna (from 25,000 Hyatt points per night). 

Either way, don’t forget to write your own review after.

Featured image courtesy Getty Images.

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