Paris’ hottest new hotel is a spindly 984-foot iron tower that may look a little familiar.
Vacation rental service HomeAway is giving away the chance to spend a night in the Eiffel Tower to four contestants in a company-run competition as part of its sponsorship of this summer’s UEFA Euro cup.
The company is claiming that the winners will be the first to sleep inside the landmark in its 129-year history, a distinction that seems hard to definitively prove.A makeshift bedroom and living space will be set up in the tower’s first floor for the occasion.
The overnight stay is part of a vacation package that also includes a three-night stay elsewhere in the city and round-trip transportation costs.Entrants have to address a writing prompt on what they plan to do with the accommodations for the benefit of a panel of judges.
HomeAway CEO Brian Sharples said he was initially a bit thrown when his marketing team brought him the idea, billing it as a splashy way for the company to spread the word about its sponsorship of the games.
The city of Paris may have been equally taken aback when HomeAway employees, upon receiving Sharples’ blessing to give it a shot, broached the proposal with the French capital’s authorities.“It was a very, very long process,” Sharples told Mashable. “I can only imagine what it takes to convince the city of Paris to do that.”
The city apparently decided the promotion could do enough for tourism to move forward.
“Paris is promoting the Euro cup as well this is a really big deal for them,” Sharples said. “And they want tourists to flock to Paris and feel comfortable in Paris and obviously there have been some incidents in Paris that would cause them to really want to promote their brand as well.”
HomeAway has been on something of an advertising blitz lately aimed in part at differentiating itself from rival Airbnb.
The Eiffel Tower contest is similar to Airbnb’s “Night At” series, in which the short-term rental service offers “iconic spaces” for one-night stays. Those spaces have included a bedroom submerged in a shark tank in Paris, New York City’s Ellis Island and Boston’s Fenway Park.
Part of HomeAway’s campaign is a commercial that mocks hotels and on-demand sharing services like Airbnb, with narration from Nick Offerman.A French-language version of that ad is currently running on television in France.
The European market is big deal for HomeAway; the company currently does 40% of its business there. As the continent’s top vacation destination, France and Paris in particular accounts for an inordinate amount of that share.
“Europeans are more comfortable with vacation rental travel than they are in the United States or in markets like Asia where it’s still emerging,” Sharples said. “And in Europe, you’d be amazed at what percentage of the total vacation market is in France.”
Indeed, Paris is the biggest city for Airbnb in the world, with an estimated 41,476 listings, according to independent source InsideAirbnb.
Winners will be announced June 10, and the actual stays will happen throughout the summer.
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