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The State of the American Vacation

When I tell people the news, their reaction occurs predictably in this order:

  1. Blank stare
  2. Look of supreme disbelief
  3. Exclamation (“Really?” or “You’re kidding!” or “Wow, that’s fabulous!”)

I’m not telling them I’ve won the lottery. I’m explaining that Miles, my employer, offers unlimited vacation to full-time employees. However, I might as well be telling folks I won the jackpot. Since only about 1% of U.S. companies offer unlimited vacation time (according to Inc. magazine), it’s something that few people have even heard about. Companies including Expedia, Prezi,, Netflix and now Miles...

Surprise and Delight

Our Brand USA team here at Miles has recently been working on cover options for the 2014 Discover America Inspiration Guide. As with any creative process, there are rounds of internal review, followed by client review to ensure that we end up with powerful, memorable covers. A vital part of our review process this year was connecting with Brand USA’s in-country reps (also known as GSAs) for their feedback. Where there was no in-country rep, we reached out through other in-market contacts to gain audience-specific reactions to the proposed cover images.

Here are some images that are being considered for the 2014 covers:...

Bite the Wax Tadpole, and other Tales of Translation

It’s a typical Thursday morning here at Miles, and I’m sitting in my little green cloth enclosure, wrapped up in granny-sweater protest against the arctic chill of our over-achiever AC system, and sipping my delicious 7-Eleven 100% Colombian Brew. Except it’s not a typical Thursday morning because I am laughing hard enough that coworkers are stopping by to check on me.

What’s tickled my funny bone this morning is the Google results delivered for the search term “translation blunders.”

Not having fact-checked through primary sources, I can’t give an iron-clad guarantee of their veracity, but they make the point just the same. Here are some I liked:

Coca-Cola in China: When Coke first decided to enter the China market in the late 1920s, it needed to find Chinese characters that would approximate the sound of “Coca-Cola”...

When Travel Exceeds Expectations

This week, Troy Thompson talks about The Destination Branding Gap in his blog. He makes some insightful points about the challenges of place branding – among them, the fact that destination marketing organizations are tasked with selling something they don’t actually own and don’t have control over.

One idea he presents, however, sent me down another thought path.
Thompson says, “Most destinations do not match the realizations that occur when the visitor sets off into the great unknown of their city.”
As travelers, we’ve all lived with the gritty reality of the roach in the bathtub; the restaurant server who is slightly surly; the seemingly endless line to get to the magic. Before user reviews and social media existed, travel “surprises” of the...