Holiday Road

In 1744, Dr. Alexander Hamilton, then a prosperous physician, hopped on a horse and headed out of Maryland for a migration “intended only for health and recreation.” The voyage was viewed as unusual for the time—he was traveling for pleasure purposes.

Decades later, other high society sorts dropped what they were doing in favor of serene seacoast spots such as Newport, R.I., and mineral springs at playful, but primitive retreats like Berkeley Springs in Virginia and Bristol near Philadelphia. According to Cindy S. Aron’s Working At Play: A History of Vacations in the United States, this marked the moment when the concept of vacation first became verified (although the term itself wouldn’t be adopted until the mid-19th century).

Between 1935 and 1940 the privilege of vacations with pay finally was extended to a majority of America’s industrial labor force, ironically making the decade of the depression a period when vacationing became more, rather than less, widespread.

American vacations have developed from such early roots into a mass phenomenon. An integral part of national life, such pauses power a respite from the rigor of regular routines, even in cases as crazed as the Griswold gang’s pilgrimage to play in Walley World—who among us hasn’t been subjected to sit in the back of a cramped car in honor of “rest”?

To marketers this is a potentially potent moment: a rare chance to interact with consumers when they’re at their most calm, and in the best case scenario, an opportunity to help enhance the enjoyment of their retreat.

So what plans are your consumers pondering this summer as they make their escape? And more importantly, how can your brand become a part of consumers’ break-induced bliss? You’ll have to ask them, I’m leaving for vacation.

This week we pay homage to the late-great Les Paul; here’s to hoping you find a way to salute sunshine this Saturday and Sunday everyone.