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Iceland Layover? Let Icelandair Provide a ‘Stopover Buddy’

Icelandair has traditionally hung its hat on two key sales propositions: cheap fares between North America and Europe, and free stopovers in Iceland.

Those free stopovers were born of necessity, of course. Routing Europe flights via its Reykjavik hub allowed the airline to efficiently redirect U.S.- and Canada-originating passengers to multiple destinations throughout Europe.

While some travelers may have considered a no-cost stop in Reykjavik to be a welcome benefit, many others viewed it as a negative, the price to be paid for Icelandair’s cut-rate airfares.

The marketing challenge, then, was to make those stopovers an unqualified plus rather than an unavoidable downside. To make lemonade from lemons, in short.

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With that in mind, the airline this week launched its Stopover Buddy service, “which aims to provide visitors to Iceland an authentic Icelandic experience.” The service pairs stopover passengers with locals, depending on their mutual interests in areas such as hiking, nature, food, culture, and so on. Travelers and their assigned Stopover Buddies consult to design and participate in a local tour or activity. And the price? Okeypis (“free” in Icelandic, according to Google’s translator).

It remains to be seen whether the new service will catch on with Icelandair’s customers. Whether it does or not, it’s a creative and credible attempt to influence consumer behavior with a real value-add rather than with hype and obfuscation. Nice, Icelandair!

For now, the service is being promoted as a limited-time offering, available through April 30. If it’s a success, it will presumably be extended.

Reader Reality Check

Is this a service you would take advantage of?

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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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