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The one where sent travelers to Mars

By Vlad Zinculescu on 01 Oct 2015

The date is October 1st, 2015. For the last 3 hours, I've been researching as much as I can about Mars, occasionally stopping to drool over those beautiful red-tinted landscapes. I'm working on an email campaign titled Add Mars to your travel bucket list  -  funny for a designer working at, Planet Earth's #1 Accommodation Site.

First, let me tell you how I got myself into this project. This morning I was riding the metro to work. I'm in my own world, head tilted downwards and browsing on Flipboard to get my daily dose of news. That's when it found me: NASA Confirms Evidence That Liquid Water Flows on Today's Mars. Water! On Mars?! Mind blown. I devoured the entire article, washing it down with anything else I could find about Mars - hydrated salts, perchlorate, and various other terms that sounded cool (but were too scientific for me to grasp). I suddenly had this longing desire to visit that place, to explore, to get my boots covered in red dust.

At Booking, ideas flow freely and come, primarly, from the ground up. Everyone is encouraged to contribute ideas and to follow through with them. Even so, when I stole a few minutes from the Product Owner of Email Marketing to pitch a travel campaign for Mars, her reaction was better than I could have anticipated. Not only did she agree to change our Sunday campaign, but she rearranged her whole day so that we could start searching for otherworldly holiday destinations right here on Earth. Here are some of the gems that we found:

Atacama, the driest desert on Earth. This is where NASA tests some of its rovers before they fly to Mars.
Rio Tinto
The iron-stained Rio Tinto river bears an uncanny resemblance to Mars' hue.

These places are scattered all over the globe, some only 3 hours away from our office here in Amsterdam.

Once the list was complete, we took the idea to our copywriters, who eagerly jumped on board. After that, all we needed was a back-end developer, and 14 hours later, we'd created an email and this landing page from scratch.

My hand was shaking as I hovered with the cursor over the send button. What we'd created was to be shared with millions of people out there. Happily, the response carried some really positive energy - overwhelming and humbling at the same time. Here is one example:

Today I look to the seven-year-old me, the one who had a dream to achieve something great (only knowing it would have to involve a keyboard somehow). I know he would be smiling - against all odds, his dream came true. I'm grateful for this day; even more so because it's not the first time I've felt like this while working at Without personal contributions, we wouldn't be standing here today. So I want to challenge you to step back for 15 minutes and let your imagination fly.

If sending people to Mars wasn't too crazy an idea for a company specializing in accommodations on Earth, then what can you come up with to positively impact your company?

Posted in Original